Saturday, December 1, 2018

It happened two days ago when I was holding the sign. An older black woman put a quarter in my hand. I gave it back of course and thanked her for thinking about me. That's happened before, three or four times; someone thought I could use a donation to help me with my mission. Twice recently a car's pulled over and rolled down the window and an older black man with a face that connects reaches over from the driver's side and presses a half dozen wrapped menthol candies in my hand. It's the least I can do, he says. Then he goes ahead in the morning stream of traffic.


Friday, November 30, 2018

'A Private War' the movie about Marie Colvin the American war correspondent who was killed covering the strife in Syria in 2012 came and went in two weeks here. The ads with the image below of Rosamund Pike as Marie are still on the sides of some bus shelters. I meant to see it. I still mean to when it shows up somewhere again.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

'Anyway—because we are readers, we don't have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next—and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis—at any time of night or day.'
           ― Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

I just read that Bob Dylan and Neil Young are going to headline a music festival in London next summer. 

I saw Dylan Saturday night at the legendary Beacon Theater at 74th and Broadway. I'd seen him there almost exactly a year ago. I wondered all last week if maybe I should leave well-enough alone and keep being warmed by the great experience I had the last time at what I thought may really be the last time. But I had my ticket and a friend was meeting me there. 

The show was better than last year. Two hours, no intermission. His voice was just right. As of course it would be. He didn't say a word. He didn't play a guitar. He sat at an electric piano. He sang 20 songs. The ones you know sounded different. They sounded fresh like he wanted them to. A strong four-piece band around him. The last song he sang was 'Blowin' in the Wind' done new. You weren't sure what it was at first. By the time it ended with him sitting at the piano playing on the keys with his right hand and playing on his harmonica in his left, your elbows were on your knees, your eyes wide.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

There are stretches when I'm standing there holding the sign when 20 people in a row will go by without even one looking at the sign. You learn to get used to the unpredictable unevenness in presenting something. Sometimes you can guess right about which oncoming person will give a smile at the sign or a thumbs up or say 'absolutely!'. Other times you lose. There's a guy who looks like Curtis Mayfield who I thought would show he liked it when he first came by. He didn't, and he hasn't in two years of walking by. I didn't notice him today. I did notice the cold though. Halfway through I had to reach in my nylon schoolbag which I keep nearby and exchange my wool gloves for thick mittens. I got warm again. Even warmer a few minutes later when a large, serious-looking guy seeing the sign said deeply, 'That's a good message.' 

Monday, November 26, 2018

'I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading has opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.'
                                                                   ― Malcolm X