Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Morgan Library

It’s reopened—and it’s better than ever.

Last night I saw original music manuscripts by Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Brahms, Schuman, Mahler, Weber…

And texts by Edgar Allan Poe, the Brontes (unbelievably tiny script), Byron, Mark Twain, Dickens… and something scribbled by Galileo.

In a word: thrilling.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Shock of Recognition

Enrico Caruso, as a very young man, went to meet Puccini and to sing for him.

"Who sent you?" asked Puccini. "God?"

(from the New Book of Lists)

Saturday, June 17, 2006



Everyone wanted to sit next to Bernard Schneider—we kept pushing our chairs to be next to him—

The other k teacher was Miss Bear—she was ill and didn’t teach—we were told later that she died in her sleep of a heart attack—

Our main teacher, Miss Smith, was a giant—the first day I went to k, I wore a tricky pantsuit—and I worried that I couldn’t get it off when I had to go to the bathroom—she saw my look of pain and figured out what was wrong—and took me to the bathroom—

Something happened. I frightened some of my schoolmates. Miss Smith saw. She looked shocked. She misinterpreted. I couldn’t explain it to her. But she left me back in k because she felt I was immature. She told me she needed me to help the new students. To clean the blackboard, too. I told my mother. My mother was angry and said I had been left back. I was crushed.

In first grade, Mrs. Horowitz asked to see my mother. Oy vey!
But…later…despite my terror…my mother smiled at me. I was skipping. (When I was in a hospital, at age 3, I was also surprised that when my mother visited me, she seemed happy to see me.)

One day, Mrs. Horowitz called in the k teachers to see which students were skipping the 2a.They were Luanne (sometimes called Lucille) Battaglia and me. Miss Smith stared and stared at me.

Next: Adventures in the first grade.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

In the Midst of Life...

I should write a series on debt – so prevalent these days, so much of a problem for college grads, so much worse thanks to the new less-forgiving bankruptcy laws. (I had been thinking of this before I saw that today’s Times devoted its magazine to the subject.)

Going in, without researching the subject much, I feel that there are no easy solutions. If you don’t have much in the way of income, there’s not a great deal you can do. The latte factor won’t cut it. We need societal changes—like a higher minimum wage, like an effort to acquaint poor people with credits for low-income workers.

A series: 1-- the extent of the problem & its causes
2—the most common victims: college students—the ill--
3—possible remedies: bankruptcy, a new job, budgeting.
Case histories.

In the midst of life, wrote Ambrose Bierce, we are in debt.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sarah Silverman

She needs editing. Some of her riffs are wonderful; some fall very flat.

She certainly is different. A descendant of Lennie Bruce: anything goes.

She plays dumb; she plays being a racist; all the while, she is so pretty! That's part of the shock. A good-looking young woman with a foul mouth and a foul mind.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Two Jokes

Someone told a joke at the Ridgewood Hobbyists:

A man is sleeping with this kid’s mother, and when the kid and his father come home, the adulterer hides in a closet. The kid goes into the closet, adulterer drags him in and begs him to keep quiet. The kid says, “It’s dark in here, I think I’ll scream.” The adulterer gives the kid $10 not to scream.

Happens week after week.

Finally, the mother asks the kid where he’s getting all the money from, the kid lies, and the kid goes to confession.

The kid is sitting in a confessional and says, Hey, it’s dark in here.

Says the priest, “You’re not starting that again, are you?”
No one objected to that joke.

But the president of the club, Bob Paoli, objected to a joke I told with a naughty word in it. At the last meeting, he admonished me not to tell any “offcolor” jokes.
Joke I told:

Priest catches a big fish; fisherman says it’s a son of a bitch.
Priest is shocked; fisherman says that’s the name of the fish.
Priest says ok. Nun sees him with the fish. It’s a son of a bitch, priest says. Father! She says, shocked. He explains: It’s the name of the fish.

Nun cooks the fish, they invite the bishop over. Great meal! Says the bishop. “I cooked the son of a bitch,” nun says. “I caught the son of a bitch,” priest says.
Bishop looks shocked.
Then smiles…and says, “You two fuckers are my kind of people.”

Which joke do you find more offensive?

“Fuck” is an upsetting word only because it’s used rarely, and then in anger. True obscenities are words like “n----r,” “k--e,” and “w-p.”

Pass this on if you wish.