Category Archives: Blogging 101

PHOTO ESSAY: Folks at The Cloisters

One of my favorite NYC outings is to take the A Train all the way up to 190th Street and walk thru Fort Tryon Park to The Cloisters.  The Met’s outpost for medieval religious (mostly) art sits atop a hill in the most un-Manhattan part of Manhattan.  It’s still rocky and hilly up here, and a view across the Hudson presents one with the vista of The Palisades, which is a much nicer view than Weehawken.  There are trees, actual virgin forest.

But it’s not the view or the trees that draw me up here.  It’s not even the “suggested” admission price (though that helps). I go because it’s like visiting old friends. Yes, I can get lost contemplating palimpsest of a Pollock or drown in the cool blue ocean of an Yves Klein. But The Cloisters is full of characters.

And they won’t shut up. It’s like being at a wonderful cocktail party where everyone keeps dropping the same name: Jesus’.

They’re always happy to see you…

"Did you make it alright? I hope the A Train wasn't too much of a hassle."
“Did you make it alright? I hope the A Train wasn’t too much of a hassle.”

Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Folks at The Cloisters

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Did you really expect faking amnesia would get you out of this?

[As part of WordPress’ “Blogging 101” I received an assignment to write a post based upon that day’s writing prompt question.]

QUESTION: You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?

First, I would head to the 99¢ Store to round up some duct tape, Saran Wrap, chicken wire, and a teaspoonful of neutronium (behind the counter, next to the watch batteries). Yes, I know that much neutronium would weigh 100 million tons, but I think if I bring the granny cart, I’ll be able to get it home. After getting the stuff home and up the stairs, I would combine them in the usual manner to create a wormhole in my hall closet. After carefully adjusting the tension on the duct tape, I would step thru the closet to the campus of Bowling Green State University in June of 1983. There I would hunt down the seventeen-year-old version of myself, who would be up there for a week to participate in the American Legion’s Buckeye Boys State, and I would ask:

“Did you really expect faking amnesia would get you out of this?”

For the roughly five years after my mom passed away, from junior year of high school then through three different undergraduate institutions, a quick tally comes up with at least a dozen trips to the emergency room. Of course, some of these were for bona-fide emergencies, but way too many times I ended up in the back of an ambulance because of –for lack of a better word –“escalations.” In this case, I had run into a doorjamb… Continue reading Did you really expect faking amnesia would get you out of this?

The night I sang “The Night My Dignity Died.”

The white cassette tape with no writing came from that particularly messy corner of my bedroom. I knew exactly what was on it without playing it: Me singing Paper Lace’s #1 hit from 1974, “The Night Chicago Died” in a karaoke bar. In Burbank. With seven vodka tonics in me.

It’s not perfect.  It starts late and drops out once or twice.  Also, I suck.  Come, discover why my brother-in-law wouldn’t allow me to sing the “Please don’t eat all the morsels” song to my future-niece in utero:

 

But, you have to admit, those voddys sure gave me some stage presence. Continue reading The night I sang “The Night My Dignity Died.”

Why ORNAMENTAL ILLNESSES?

As I was typing the introduction, I knew the name of the blog was going to be an issue. For 30+ posts, it’s been just been a cute little bit of wordplay, shiny stories just hanging there. But now that I’ve declared the blog’s dual purpose of being a writing blog that also deals with my struggles with mental illness, it just seems about four clicks past cute… Continue reading Why ORNAMENTAL ILLNESSES?

Welcome to ORNAMENTAL ILLNESSES…

Back in the early 90s, I was in Los Angeles embarking on what was sure to be a promising and lucrative career in arranging words on pages. A screenplay I had written as a masters thesis at Michigan won the Hopwood Award. With the hubris only a 23 year old could muster, I took to telling everyone that this was the same award Arthur Miller and Lawrence Kasdan won when they were at Michigan. I took the prize money, plus a thousand dollars I won on a 900-number version of Jeopardy! while drunk at 3am, and moved into a bougainvillea-encrusted dingbat apartment building called The Pink Flamingo in Studio City (but really North Hollywood). And, most amazingly of all, through some tenuous connections I was working with an agent who went on to be Jeremy Piven on Entourage. There were meetings in Burbank and a desk on the Universal lot between where the Classic Hollywood impersonators hung out and the Backdraft ride. Rhett Butler reeks of weed.

Then I went crazy. And I left. And I stopped writing. Continue reading Welcome to ORNAMENTAL ILLNESSES…