Is this what it feels like to be a dancer? To have these long strong legs and then … flowers growing up out of your torso?  I just spent two riveting hours watching  Hubbard Street Dance Chicago do their magic and as you can see in this super-short clip they’re not really naked the way they seem to be in that photo I used in yesterday’s post. (I mean seriously: who could dance with no clothes on?) On the other hand they’re not overly clothed either – not in the way dancers used to be in their tights and super-snug bodices, the men in those bulging codpieces that made the girls all blush and look away. This troupe dances with bare feet and bare legs, and the sound as they land is soft, delicious, like the footfall of a fawn. When I watched them swaying together I thought “Here is what we’re meant to be: sea anemones caught up and moving to the rhythms of  some invisible tide! But how can  regular schlubs like us possibly learn to move this way?

Then I found this clip of the dancers on YouTube and saw that we ARE like them: David and I look just like this when he tries to make me go back in the kitchen and clean that messy drawer filled with the duct tape and pizza coupons, the dried-up gluesticks and the cat suppositories. It’s the same thing exactly! I too dance away, go limp, pretend to pass out! He too picks me up and drags me back! So art really does imitate life, right down to the drier lint swirling around at their feet. It’s a wonderful thing.


Here are the streets of Winchester today. Just kidding ha ha. This really is Venice but Winchester is hot on Venice’s heels with the waters rising and rising, hiding entirely the eyebrow-shaped arch of the bridge by the Post Office, coursing fast toward our Upper Mystic Lake and on out to the insatiable ocean.

When the floods of two weeks ago receded, they left a sorry sight: a thousand plastic bag parts clinging to tree branches even ten and twelve feet off the ground. The improvised neighborhoods outside Tijuana are strewn with this same harvest. So are many barren hillsides in Israel where Palestinian people have set up their woefully inadequate tents and lean-tos. If extra-terrestrials touched down for a quick tour of the planet they’d report us as a strange and warlike people drowning in our own waste.

We’re spoiled of course as Americans. When word went out last night that the people in certain communities should not flush their toilets for at least 12 hours they stood saucer-eyed reporting this fact to the TV reporters. We never think of what we leave behind; we’ve never really had to, with the services that have come to feel like ours by right.

I took the above picture just a month before Venice was once again flooded and in the days after saw an account of that most recent event in a British newspaper. In reporting the story, it described two American women, suitcases on their heads, trudging across St. Mark’s Square in knee-high water and – what else? – sobbing loudly.

This Is Peacekeeping?

The Titan Missile Museum here in Tucson is a mighty eerie place with its recurring theme of how enlightened the U.S. was with its Peace Through Deterrence program. That’s the program that basically said  “If you even think about hitting us first your sorry cities will be ash within 30 minutes of the time we push this here button.” I guess I’ve just never really understood how we kept the world safe for future generation when wait, weren’t WE the ones who killed all those people on the Japanese mainland on two lovely August mornings? And, as the museum keeps saying, wasn’t this newer bomb six hundred times more powerful than the ones we dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

I actually began to feel sick touring the place, which can ALMOST seem sort of harmless with its padlocked metal file cabinet holding the day’s secret ‘code ‘ and its fat padded pipes like you had in the basement of your built-in-1930 grade school. But then I kept wondering how the other visitors could bring their small children to a place where in the waiting area before the tour you have to watch repeating images like the one above; where the minute the video starts you see this classically horrific footage of a building exploding into flames. (It must have been within 17 miles of the blast, poor building.)

I taught high school for most of the 1970s and I have to say: I took one look at the film below and suddenly understood why that whole generation of teens born in the 50s seemed to want nothing more than to get stoned before lunch and stay that way for the rest of the day.

Go Your Own Way

You know you’re in the big winter funk when you’re reading some stupid Goth catalog that dropped through your letter slot and the witchy, droopy-hemmed outfits look good to you.

My problem is I keep forgetting I’m not Stevie Nicks circa 1978 and there’s no wind machine tousling my wondrous locks.  Chicks my age go for lots of hair and sleeves that drip like candle wax over the hands. In fact if it were up to me I’d still be wearing long hair parted in the middle but Ronaldo is in charge of my look now and he keeps me in the right century thank God. I go see him today to get colorized, like the old-time movie that I am.

It’s always so mellow there at the salon. I get in that chair and read the Herald, Boston’s answer to New York’s Daily News with its right-wing  furious  fed-up tone and – it doesn’t even bother me.

Tell ya what though: if I had the dough I’d endow the place with a never-lapsing subscription to The National Enquirer, there’s a publication! Jennifer Aston is going to be 75 and they’ll still frame her as gamely waiting in the wings for Brad. And all I can say to that is So am I Jennifer, so am I. Well, if Barry Gibb is no longer available that is.

And now, for a REALLY good laugh click on those two links above which are headlines from the Herald AND the Daily News. Who says we’re a trashy culture? (Joseph Pulitzer Rolls Over In Grave.)

Who’s Manic?

Whenever I see my friend Dottie (not her real name) she has already baked cookies for the whole county AND walked the dog AND practiced healing arts on three entire people before most of us have even had our coffee. We walked around the pond once, Dottie and I, she with her baby in a stroller  (grandbaby to be accurate, “the best thing I never did,” she calls him) and we  took those paths at 30 mph. That child’s eyeballs were jiggling. So were mine. I was completely out of breath 100 yards in and I was propelling nothing but my own increasingly porous skinny-white-girl skeleton.

I saw Dottie professionally the other day and after scoring my bag of cookies asked her where she got all her energy. “Hon! I’m manic!” she laughed. “I take a shitload of meds just to say this calm!”

She said ‘manic’ as in ‘manic-depressive’ but of course bi-polar is the term of choice these days and I’ve often wondered if I’m not a little bi-polar myself. Yesterday, for example, I was a mess. Partly because I couldn’t see out of one eye and partly because my messed-up neck hurt like hell I decided my creative powers were also shot and that nobody liked me. I whined to David the second he came in the door and fell into the bed at 8. He found a way to fall into the same bed (men! what can we say?) and today I wake up and whaddya know everything’s great. And today I’m not posting about pinned car accident victims and death’s dark shadow.  In fact after I get back from my Global Grooves class at the Y and feed Uncle Ed and buy the food and work on the column and reread My Antonia so I can help a kid with his English paper tonight I’m going to start dreaming up tomorrow’s post about  – are you ready for something really serious? – eye makeup!  Onward and upward!

Just Sayin’

Just sayin’: if I were an indigenous person I’d be rolling  my eyes heavenward and getting mad all over again about the wrong-headed versions of what went down in the fall of 1621. Also, check this out: Half the people who came over on the Mayflower died within the first year. ‘Course ALL the people who lived in the settlement called Patuxet died a few years before that – of the Plague brought over by You-Know-Who, the Big-eyed, Big-nosed White Man as the Chinese once called our enlightened emissaries to the Eastern kingdoms.

Squanto (real name Tisquantum ) was kidnapped by the English in 1614 and by the time he made his way back seven years later it was to find his whole village wiped out by this  plague and full of people from England and Holland.

I learned all this visiting this amazing place Plimoth Plantation which I wrote about in this week’s column – and by the way kudos to the historical impersonators like this lad, and this young woman.

The people to really see? the actual Wampanoags who are good enough to share their time explaining the ancient arts.



cryinMake of this what you will: Once, way, way back I was perusing the produce  at the grocery store and came upon a vegetable I did not recognize.“What’s this funny-looking stuff?” I asked an older man who put on such a mad face I felt like his kid coming home with a disappointing report card. “They’re beets!” he snapped. “What, you never saw beets before?”Then he hurried  away in case such stupidity might be catching.

“Oh! I… I… I.. just didn’t know,” I called after him. “I guess we always had beets in a can! I‘m sorry!” Then – maybe he could tell he had me near tears  – he came back over and stood right beside me. “It’s OK,” he said with a whole different demeanor. “You have to ask in life. How else will you learn? You ask! It’s fine. It’s good, really.”

So that was a nice grocery store exchange. I had the other kind yesterday when I was trying to check out:

“Could you please separate out the perishables? “ I said to the kid who was bagging.

“Whaaaat?” the kid said, looking past me and smiling an idiot’s smile at another employee.

“Could put the refrigerator items- ”  but he cut me off:  “Uh, dude: I know what perishables are.”

“Sorry! But…. then why did you say ‘What?’


“You did it again!”

“Oh. uhhh. well I always say What.”

“Well you’d best break yourself of THAT habit or people are going to be mad at you your whole life.”

“NO ONE WILL BE MAD AT ME!” he cried, near tears himself it looked like.

And all I could think walking toward my car was “Gad! Now I’m at an age where I’ve got people crying in the supermarket!” Or maybe we all get emotional there, when we look at those price tags.