Sunday, October 28, 2012

Al Pacino's autograph before the storm seizes NYC

10/28/12 16:28 Home

I have my books prepared with the flashlights, the phones are charged, the tanks are full in both the minivan and my charger. We went to church this morning and there was the sense to replace the fear with the love of God. But there was a foreboding feeling of doom as I looked outside and saw the wind spray over the plants. It’s coming. It is bad. We are ready. Why all the gas in the vehicles? It’s not as if we are going to escape. We have enough water to put Poland Springs over this quarter, the investors have a savory smile on their lips, they can see the images - the survivors from this Frankenstorm, a Perfect Storm scenario which will strike land, will enjoy the tepid spring water from their plastic bottles. I am ready. The backyard has been cleared of any furniture, so has the deck – it is all clear. The projects I completed today should have been completed weeks ago, but with each passing weekend there have been events. Life led me to Atlanta and Plains with my mother. Last weekend up to Boston to visit Amanda at Simmons. This weekend with the threat of a storm, hurricane, blizzard and tornadoes - we are making the responsible choices to seal up the place. At least for today, yesterday was another story. The air conditioners are now pulled from the windows and stored inside. They have not been used for weeks, so the storm was a great opportunity to get them in. I even cleaned the bathrooms, swept the halls, took care of that spider’s web on top of the stairs - I made enough mental notes to fill my brain. Clean off the web. We are ready. We have food, gas – yes – even for the grill outside - so we can cook the thawing slabs of meet since the power is expected to be out for days. And yes the sheets are clean as we try to rest our stressed thoughts.

Yesterday was a break from all of this. Ali bought tickets for my birthday to see GlennGary Glenn Ross on Broadway at the Schoenfeld theatre. It stars Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, David Harbour and Richard Schiff. It was the first time for Ali to see Pacino, early this year I saw him in Shakesphere’s Merchant of Venice. GlennGary is a man’s play and Pacino was excellent. He plays, Shelly Levene, and older salesman who is going through a bad streak until he closes on a big sale. If you saw the movie, you know the story, in the play - Pacino plays the part that Jack Lemon played. There is the scene in the play when Pacino is describing in detail how he made his big sell and closed the deal. But he does it by looking into the first two rows of the audience, drawing them into his story. Reaching, his pen out - as if he dared anyone to get up to take it. It was a master at work. I never heard of Bobby Cannavale, but was impressed with his adaption of Roma which Pacino played in the movie. Bobby had the part to a T – from his clothes to his mannerisms, to his booming voice which filled the theater



. I loved the movie and now have fallen for the play. Ali and I made our way outside and were crushed by the crowd. We saw Richard Schiff, in fact I reached out to get his autograph he took the playbill and signed it and asked if I was in the balcony as well. Yes sir we were in the last row. He was very gracious and took his time signing and taking some pictures. Pacino came out and the place went nuts, he had a smile on his face and signed some Playbills I reached over and got him to sign the back of an advertisement and then looked at the squiggle. It looks like a child’s attempt to write an e in script. But he did make an effort to sign as many as possible and even posed for a picture with a fan. Afterwards we had some cheese cake at Juniors and made our way back to the car. Traffic in the city was packed as we tried to cut up some blocks and Avenues and over and down to the Ed Koch Bridge. On the way home it inspired me to try to write a play. I tried a radio play this year, but was a little discouraged since I felt it was becoming conventional and contrived. The play I’m thinking about is far from contrived or simple. The sky is getting darker. Before anyone woke up I went for a run. On my route I made mental notes of places which will be impacted by this furious storm…God is good…all the time…thank you for reading this.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Taking Ma to church to see Jimmy Carter in Plains GA

10/13/12 09:18 Atlanta I can’t remember the last time I took a trip which involved only my mother. The idea was building for over a year, ever since I drove my family down to Florida and we stopped in Plains to attend a Bible study with President Carter. Last year I wanted to take her, but with Ali’s diagnosis, my attention was solely on my wife getting better and being more supportive with my children. Ma and I have read a few of his books. The first for me was Living Faith which I waited in line for hours to get my copy signed at Book Revue in Huntington. I was one of the first on line and learned soon enough, the line goes quickly, I was told by some veterans of his signings - you may get a nod, but there was no personalized copies and none would be signed Jimmy Carter…only a J carter. Keep the line moving. I wish I had more time and since then there was some more signings, but with each signing the meeting was brief. Once he shook my hand. When we came home from Florida; I shared the time in Carter’s small church in Plains and the special warmth I felt in his presence, there was no rush in church. This was a place where the word of God was spoken by one a former President of the United States. What incredible knowledge. Afterwards we had our picture taken with The Carter’s and eventually we moved on out of town. Since then I bought Ma some of his Bible Teachings - CD’s – he has two that are available to the public. She listens to them, but I knew if there was a chance, I would take her to Plains. This year I saved my money and we set on a date. October 14 – which was my grandmother’s birthday, Ma’s mother… I worked a half day from home. By 1 PM I was shutting down, made a peanut butter sandwich since I’m meatless, finished packing, loaded the car with my bag and called Ma to say I was coming over. While driving to my parent’s house on the windy 25A, I listened to classical music, watched the changing patterns of the leaves and saw the Halloween decorations in store windows. I made it home and honestly with some surprise I saw a small black traveler’s bag, a small knapsack and she was ready. I hugged by brother-in-law and we pulled out of the driveway. Ma asked if she could sit in the back seat. Sure Ma whatever makes you feel comfortable. Like Driving Miss Daisy, I backed out of the driveway and we were off to Laguardia. The flight was leaving at 6 and we had enough time to get there. I noticed she’d keep her eyes covered, and I thought it was the sun, but knew she was nervous with me driving. I am not a bad driver, but my mother was in a serious car accident when she was younger. Two women in the car died that day. If Ma did not move over to the middle of the back seat, she’d be dead. Ma’s first senior moment was finding her driver’s license which she needed to check in through security, more people passed us as she searched and I know praying to Saint Anthony till she found it, and she did. The flight was smooth. The jet was larger than I expected, a 757…the night sky was clear as we passed tiny clusters of city lights. I played The Wings for Ma on my Itouch, Uncle Albert, Let Him In…she listened and bobbed her head back and forth. Those songs brought me back to when I was a kid listening to the music at our neighbor's house, Linda and Mac still live there. Hands across the water…water…hands across the clear blue sea…. and we landed. We trudged slowly to retrieve the luggage, walked to the rental car, walked to the rental and made it to the hotel late. Parked the car in a public parking across from The Courtyard on Carnegie in Atlanta – a very nice place to stay, I was surprised it was a Courtyard it was very modern . I don’t think I would forget the look of Ma’s glazed and tired eyes as she asked in her Irish brogue oh so very nicely and with hope, “Do you think we’d get some dinner?” Of course. 10/14/12 07:05 Columbus GA I woke up before the alarm. I slept very well. Yesterday was a full day in Atlanta, and then an hour and a half drive to Columbus. After walking through the Olympic park, feeling the settled peace in the Southern city - the air was clean and the sun was out in a clear blue sky, and seeing inside the CNN center we walked back to the parking garage to get the car. I explained to the woman at the checkout I lost the ticket…she was nice $15.00 was the price – for a lost ticket and I assume was the same price to park overnight. I have to say everyone has been very nice and accommodating – Ma and I make a point to say something, he is my son or I am on this tour with my mother. It sets the precedent. Isn’t that nice… a mother and her son. The waitress yesterday was very nice. Ma asked… and has asked each time she’d like something to drink – do you have decaf tea? On the flight down…no mam. A flight attendant brewed a pot of decaf coffee. Yesterday she had hot water with lemon. For lunch, it was a late meal; the waitress at Highland Bakery offered some selections of herbal tea. Yesterday we spent most of the day at the MLK site. I wanted Ma to feel as though she had as much time as she needed. This was the first time she’s been here. There was a lot to take in. I’m looking at the time: we’re supposed to be leaving this hotel in fifteen minutes. Time to go, and finish packing. 1900 clouds outside my window Today was a very memorable day. We were on the road by 7:30 - well make that 7:45 since Ma couldn’t find her purse, then needed a clothes hanger though she was going to take one from the room. I explained it was not a good idea, oh you’re right. Besides we were going to church, she said and that would be stealing. I asked a woman at the front desk if she had a metal hanger and she did. We were set. Like I said we were on the road by 7:45. We made it down to Plains Maranatha Baptist church before 9:00. We passed Fort Bennington, the entrance was grand with statues, Roman columns as if it was an imposing wall of force. The drive was easy and slow because Ma would remind me and ask me to watch my speed and go slow, Ms Daisy I am driving carefully. We passed fields with hovering steam over the plants. Rows of short plants with what looked like snow plants -white balls of flowers and we soon discovered was cotton. Relics of homes with battered tin roofs and caved in walls, a donkey used for refuge from the morning sun. Red dirt roads, the color looked like fire ants. There were signs as we approached Plains, 45 miles and such. Plains…home of the 39th President of the United States. There was minimal traffic on the road. A Sunday morning in the South can be peaceful. President Carter’s class begins promptly at 10:00. There were cars in the parking lot. I brought some Cliff Bars and we ate quickly and drank some water. That was our breakfast. We rushed as best as we could to get inside. We checked ourselves in with the secret service officers who checked the camera and phone and we went in. I realized I left my glasses in the car and went back outside. Actually went back twice. When I came back one of the women ushers asked - what was mother’s first name. Rita I said. OK…I wasn’t sure why she asked. Before President Carter comes out, we are given a lesson of the norms of what to expect and how to behave. The woman giving the lesson, Miss. Jan was Amy Carter’s fourth grade teacher. She was stern but had a great sense of humor. The President will ask each section where you’re from, if you hear your state or country, please don’t repeat it. I called out Ireland since Ma wasn’t going to say anything. The Bible lesson we are told is approximately one hour. If we stay for the lesson and the service we can have our picture taken with President Carter and The First Lady. The theme of today’s lesson was on standing up for what is right, Fairness. The rich and powerful should be obligated to take care of those who are poor and weak, the disadvantage. I had to ask Ma as she’s sitting next to me what was the theme? I knew the word began with an F. Fairness….I might have to shut this down since I have inches to type. It’s not the turbulence which is not as bad as when I flew back from Florida. Though it’s shaking and Ma is sitting here in silence. I felt sorry for her and we chatted about some of the examples of unfairness, which President Carter described, civil rights and immigration issues, the poor and how our society has changed especially politics. When President Carter ran against Governor Reagan, there was no such thing as PACS or huge corporate donations…each shared a pool that was donated by the citizens on their tax returns. I think he mentioned up to two dollars was the most any citizen could donate. Before the service began we had ten minutes to get up and use the bathrooms. I got up and went. When I came back, Ma had tears in her eyes. She said, “I can’t speak…” And looked to the woman to her right for some reassurance, she moved closer to Ma. A brown bag was in her lap, my hands are shaking. She pulled out a signed book which President Carter inscribed, To Rita J Carter…Ma thought I had something to do with it…not at all. I understand The Carter’s won’t sign anything at church and this was a rarity. After service we had our picture taken, at lunch at Dylan’s which Ms. Jan explained was the only place open on a Sunday morning in Plains…I think she owns it. We drove to President Carter’s childhood home and walked in the house where the memories and stories we read about were shared in his books. I took a picture of Ma on the long white swing in the front porch. Before we left I had some boiled peanuts that a ranger cooked up on a fire outside and was given a piece of a cotton plant. This was the snow flowers we saw from the car. The drive back to the airport was about three hours. Like Ma I lost the rental keys for a few minutes after I parked the car….it was my senior moment. Either way the moments for this past weekend were blessed by God…thank you for reading this…

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Running in Philadelphia encourages the soul


Running in Philadelphia I get to see the people sleeping on the sides of the train tracks, the man who looked like a black Jesus who ate a sandwich he found. He waved at me but I ignored him. On the way back his clear eyes met mine and I said hey…hey…keep on running. Keep on hiding on abandoned mattress you keep in the grass. Her head was covered by a red hoodie appeared like a solemn monk possessing a chalice of wine but it was something else that caught the attention of a man who leaned in close. Other joggers were running the opposite way. I was the late solo on the street who wanted to go as far as possible before turning around. Up the steps to the museum I glanced back at the grey clouds covering the tips of the buildings, their workers shrouded in the mist and far up from the street. Around the building I could feel the pains in my legs but pushed further. I was not stopping especially when a group of young women - cross country runners - were there. No…impress the younger generation and prove you still got it. There were no hoots. I don’t know if I still have anything, but I kept going, past the old school crew buildings, missing an awkward bicyclist with wobbly front tire, shaking hands. Get the fuck off the path until you know how to ride a bike, besides there are others who need to run by you. Wobbly head with a helmet. The Schuykill River held the faint fog, light wisps
of cool moisture merged in the warm morning air. Two - eight men crew teams were out practicing, their coach yelling into a megaphone…ready? Row….four… you can do better than that….that was a mile and I turned around, passed the statues and monuments…other joggers like the large black woman who I passed earlier and who sung something out loud to all of us within her proximity. She looked like a star from a soap opera which was cancelled ten years ago. Passed the Rocky statue and remember feeling inspired to box when I saw that movie. Each time I run this course I think of the movie, leaving the house before the sun is up an back to crack some eggs into a glass and drink it down. In fact I saw a boxer this time, running side to side sporting a gray sweat suit. He swung out his hands. Go Rock! Before I headed back to the hotel I stopped in the cathedral and lit a candle in front of the St Patrick statue. Next week this time Ma and I will be in Atlanta. Back to running. Each time I run back to the hotel I see the insane freaks who talk to themselves, run in the middle of traffic or just the smoking office workers who watch out for the women….they hunt for the next beautiful thing while I passed them with one eye open, the burning, the dripping out the intoxicants through sweat.