Friday, May 29, 2020



‘I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do.’
                                                 —James Baldwin

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


FIRST BOOK SPOTTED in anyone’s hands going by my building in this virus time. Tonight, just now. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020






Wagon Train’ was on. It seemed to be beaming in from some foreign country. I shut that off, too, and went into another room, a windowless one with a painted door--a dark cavern with a floor-to-ceiling library. I switched on the lamp. The place had an overpowering presence of literature and you couldn't help but lose your passion for dumbness.’
                   —Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One 

An opening paragraph in an old Joan Didion essay I started to reread last night in bed. It’s in a collection of her essays called After Henry. The piece is called ‘Insider Baseball’ though it’s about politics:

‘It occurred to me during the summer of 1988, in California and Atlanta and New Orleans, in the course of watching first the California primary and then the Democratic and Republican national conventions, that it had not been by accident that the people with whom I had preferred to spend time in high school had, on the wholehung out in gas stations.’

Saturday, May 23, 2020


THE DAUGHTER ON THE LEFT, Gretchen, is the oldest of my three daughters. She’s with the next oldest. The youngest is in Wyoming. Gretchen will be 51 tomorrow, Sunday. She was born, when her mother and I were seniors in college, in St. Joseph’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. She lives here in New York. She has boy/girl twins who are 11. We were the first of our college friends to have a child. A week or so later was graduation. It was quite a time. 1969. Some of us wore armbands at graduation to protest the war. Fr. Hesburgh was the school’s president. We were very young.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


THERE WAS NO BOOKSTORE IN THE SMALL TOWN WHERE I GREW UP. There was no bookstore near the Catholic boarding school I was sent to for high school. There was no good bookstore in South Bend, Indiana where I went to college. Was there even a coffee shop there? In Cleveland where I moved in 1969 after graduation to teach grade school in the inner city as they called it then there were wonderful bookstores. I eventually owned part of a small one. When my father walked into it for the first time, he said to himself, first words out of his mouth, out loud, A person could spend his whole life here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


EMPTY SIDEWALK BY SIMON BARUCH MIDDLE SCHOOL down the street from me this afternoon. I miss the boys and girls faces and the boys and girls noise that was always there. Half the block is their concrete outdoor playground. Empty of kids now. Some adults my age with legs like Larry David were hitting tennis balls over two nets they’d brought. They’ve removed the hoops from the backboards so kids won’t be tempted I guess.