Have a Franken-Fabulous Witchy-Wonderful Halloween

Our minds and our memories — two of life’s mysteries. The memory of last month can get lost in a fog, yet thirty, forty or even fifty years ago can remain with us with so much clarity. Marcel Proust (“Remembrance of Things Past,” is also known in English and in French as “In Search of Lost Time“) had his cookie, and with that petite madeleine, Proust illustrates how pieces of our past can emerge before us and give birth to a string of memories. In Proust’s case, the prompt is a taste.  In my case it’s an internal clock with a double alarm setting, one for the beginning of school of the school year (which I’ll save for another post) and Halloween. Continue reading

If You’re Creative and Live in NYC…

The Artist Conference Network is a kind of miracle space for gifted fools. It is a place to take on doing things you don’t know how to do.  It is a structure for living your dreams.  It is an environment of informed generous acknowledgement, where making up stuff precedes the production of results, and there’s a bunch of folks there who know what it took and celebrate with you…”                                          -ACN Founder Beverly Cassell, MFA, Painter

The Artist Conference Network is a unique coaching community for people doing creative work.  The Network is comprised of small groups throughout the US.  Members are trained to coach and be coached. 

The Promise of the Artist Conference Network: We guarantee that practicing these coaching techniques results in breakthroughs in focus, momentum, and empowerment in your creative work.

“Truth is a habit of integrity,…” — George McGovern (b. 1922 – d. 2012)

A longtime progressive who stood for tax reform and a national health insurance, George McGovern was also a serious opponent of the Vietnam War and conducted his 1972 presidential campaign on ending it.

“Never a showman, he made his case with a style as plain as the prairies where he grew up, often sounding more like the Methodist minister he’d once studied to be than a longtime U.S. senator and three-time candidate for president.

“A decorated World War II bomber pilot, McGovern said he learned to hate war by waging it. In his disastrous race against Nixon, he promised to end the conflict in Vietnam and cut defense spending by billions of dollars. He helped create the Food for Peace program and spent much of his career believing the United States should be more accommodating to the former Soviet Union.

Senators Thomas Eagleton and George McGovern

“McGovern was tortured by the selection of Missouri Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton as the vice presidential nominee, and 18 days later, following the disclosure that Eagleton had undergone electroshock therapy for depression, the decision to drop him from the ticket despite having pledged to back him “1,000 percent.

And McGovern never shied from the word “liberal,” even as other Democrats blanched at the label and Republicans used it as an epithet.” (NYT)

What follows are excerpts from McGovern’s 1972 acceptance speech and excerpts from the 2005 documentary narrated by Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!,” “One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern,” written, directed and produced by Stephen Vittoria.

George McGovern

1972 Democratic Presidential Nominee – U.S. Senator

Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida
July 14, 1972


So tonight I accept your nomination with a full and grateful heart.

This afternoon I crossed the wide Missouri to recommend a running mate of wide vision and deep compassion, Senator Tom Eagleton.

I’m proud to have him at my side, and I’m proud to have been introduced a moment ago by one of the most eloquent and courageous voices in this land Senator Ted Kennedy.

My nomination is all the more precious and that it is a gift of the most open political process in all of our political history.

It is the sweet harvest of the work of tens of thousands of tireless volunteers, young and old alike, funded by literally hundreds of thousands of small contributors in every part of this nation. Continue reading

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Splash of Color

Alchemy: Postcardperfect sun and river redefining reality; on the stage of the Seventy-ninth Street boat basin nature is the everpresent performer, enchantress, and finally, trickster.

photo by Kate Benedict

Where the Hudson River was unlit, its surface receded and sank; where the sun’s light romped, shimmering runners of rainbow luminescence appeared to reverse the river’s movement from horizontal to vertical. A feral speedboat, its canvas roof carmine, the color of a movie star’s lips, its body cerulean fiberglass, fractured the illusion of optics with violent momentum and gouged a deep violet gash into the river’s fluid skin. Gulls, kamikaze in aggression and concentration, dived, skimmed river surface, and then ascended until they disappeared, sometimes with fish in their beaks, sometimes with what they merely thought were fish. When river mended itself, flowing south to north, it carried with it old Reeboks still laced and toes turned upward, spent and dulled condoms as transparent as cellophane, pastel race tipsheets with some dreamer’s circled selections, and other chronicles of contemporary human settlement. Continue reading

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Splash of Yellow Things Living and Not

My very first blog post on WordPress was about a slug, a Banana Slug link,

and I wondered: What else in nature is yellow?

When I was small I developed a mild fear of sunflowers as I walked through a field of them. They looked as if they were capable of bending down and swooping me up, and I imagined I would never been seen again. That was then, oh so many years ago. Now, however,

they are gorgeous, especially up close, hypnotic spirals.

It is said that yellow stimulates our mental processes, encourages communication, stimulates our nervous system and activates our memories. Manipura, Sanskrit for “city of jewels,” is the name of our solar plexus chakra, and it is represented by yellow.  When this chakra is open, it empowers us to find our personal strength. It will help turn dreams and goals into reality. For the Aztecs, yellow symbolized food because it was the color of corn, the primary food of the Aztec people.

Continue reading

Thinking About “The Exonerated’

Imagine this:

You’ve been accused of something you didn’t do. Let’s kick it up a notch: You’ve been punished for something you didn’t do. Another notch: You’ve been convicted and jailed for a crime you are truly innocent of.
Now, imagine this:

You have been scheduled for execution. You are on death row. From  anywhere from two to twenty-two years.

And you are innocent.

A generous friend treated me to a theatrical experience last night, and it was – I don’t want to use riveting, spellbinding, breath-taking – but it was. Produced by Culture Project in association with Innocence Project, “The Exonerated” will lead you to question our justice system. “The Exonerated” depicts such a situation, based on the harrowing experiences of actual individuals sentenced to death and later released because of overwhelming evidence of their innocence. The actors delivered words from interviews, letters, case files, public records. Intense and profound.
But before I encountered the play, I was held by a lobby exhibit of 10 paintings and drawings, part of artist Daniel Bolick’s “Resurrected: The Innocence Portraits.” The exhibit’s aim is to “give a ‘visual voice’ to the problem of wrongful incarceration.” His work took my breath from me and left in its place a lump in your throat. Check out the artist, Daniel Bolick, at http://www.danielbolick.com/galleries/resurrected/portraits/profiles-exonerated.html. Continue reading

Zora the Beautiful

Her soulful look

She was half-feline, half-spirit, and on June 25, 2012, a Monday, she left her body behind and entered the realm of pure spirit. She answered to Zozo, Zorita, and Pretty Face. Near the end I thought of her as Zora the Beautiful. And she was. Even at sixteen, I thought she looked half her age. Continue reading

Precious: Her Earthly Biography

On Monday afternoon, December 1, 2009, a year to the day that we moved into our current apartment, my sweet, beautiful little cat, Precious, shook off her transient identity, as we Buddhists say, left her useless body behind, and merged with the universe. Once again. On Halloween she was diagnosed with a tumor growing in her chest cavity and obscured views of her heart on the X-rays. I had not expected such news, though I knew something accounted for the subtle change in her breathing that I detected. She was a modest, uncomplaining little creature, but believe me, she wouldn’t mind one bit that I write a cyberspace memorial to her. Memorial, right, because she would not warm to the word obituary. Continue reading

WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Down Memory Lane

Lesson I: Memories & Illusions

for Tina & Ronnie in memory of our mother;


Listen to me:

This is the blouse she wore on the merry-go-round

lemon and cherry lovebirds beaking the other

I am smoothing the wrinkles against our chests

it is the motion of pressing time backwards

The sandals that never wore the feet that

touched the pavement with you to school

acorns and berries on straw antique weave

round red toes were her statements on life.

We called these her kangaroo clothes

room enough for us to raise the world

ma ma mu mu  me me  mo

literary songs from kangaroo babies.

Listen to me:

Do you remember the color of her arms

the exact shade of black I mean

And how her reds bled into her browns

or how her nipples wet your searching mouths

when she was a leaf tarnished in autumn

or roses and the color of her anger

and vanilla oxydol and her wintertime smell

the wind would part around her

and return for a second try.

Listen to me:

This woman was the sea roaring our scars

She was the sea rocking our fears

and gushing our dreams to shore

Then she became the day dying in her own hair

and the night trying to resurrect herself.

Art: “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali; “Light My Fire” by Lena Karpinsky; “Winter” by Robert Lacy