Maturity   (2017Jan11)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017                                          7:38 PM

oldpic-047There’s a coziness to youth—a sense that nothing can invade your home, that you’re safe under your covers. In a warm, snug home, during a blizzard, an adult may be concerned that a window will blow in, that a tree will topple onto the roof, or that the electricity will fail. Young people don’t just leave those details to the adults—they aren’t even aware of such things. They simply enjoy the show going on outside the window, enhancing the warmth and comfort of a lamplit room.

I can remember several places that seemed snug and cozy, long ago—looking at the same places today, I might just see all the work that needs to be done, or how threadbare the upholstery is—I’ve been conditioned to want to buy things to improve my home, to look for repairs that need to be made. To be fair, I acquired this partly through hard experience—learning that some home features require maintenance; that an ounce of prevention prevents a butt-load of expense; and that simple basics, like heat, electricity, or running water, can really impact quality-of-life.

The older you get, the richer you have to be to continue the pleasures of youth—the walk through the woods, the swimming, the road trips—we do these things on the cheap, as teens and such. But grown-ups can’t just traipse through whatever property they wander across, they can’t just jump into any body of water, they can’t just up and wander off for a few days. Some can—those who own their own woods, their own pools and ponds, those who have no employer to answer to—their childhood need never end.

People assume there’s a disillusionment process that inevitably happens to people as they mature. Much is made of the fact that we ‘learn life’s hard lessons’. It is framed as if we come to this knowledge through maturity and experience. But I think we’re overlooking a key component of that.


It isn’t entirely that we suddenly see these changes—grown-ups aren’t given the license that young people are allowed—many of the changes are forced on us. I distinctly remember the first time someone hassled me for walking across their property—until that day, property lines hadn’t really existed for me. I spent a lifetime (well, a childhood) walking wherever I needed to go—nobody bothered me. But when a full-grown man walks through your yard, you tend to freak out—and that day I suddenly realized that my ‘youth’ card had expired.

Similar experiences dot the landscape on the road to maturity—walking onto school grounds and being swarmed by security, insisting I check in at the office; realizing, one day, that everyone in the bar thinks I’m a creepy old guy—adulthood is full of these little surprises, none of them pleasant.

So it’s not only that we begin to see the ugliness of the world on entering maturity—it’s partly that the world begins to see ugliness in us—the lack of innocence that comes with the loss of youth. We hear ‘Act your age’ plenty, as children—but it takes on a whole other level of seriousness when, say, the cops inform you that you’ll be tried as an adult. Some of our maturity comes from our experiential learning and growth—but some of it is just forced on us.

Still, I can remember that youthful coziness. I once visited Maine—a road-trip with three other people, in a big old, sky-blue Chevy Impala (that spun out on the interstate during a snowstorm—we were all fine—it spun a full 360, still on the road—we just drove on, severely shaken by it, but otherwise fine).

We stayed with a friend whose rooms were part of an old Victorian place—Joni Mitchell on the turntable, snow outside the window, everybody dreaming of romance and adventure in this New England idyll—with a fire in the fireplace. Drinking tea and smoking cigarettes. It was a timeless moment that has stayed with me—but nothing in later life would ever be, could ever be, as carefree and freshly-discovered as that jaunt to Maine.



Improv of the Past   (2016Sep06)

Friday, September 09, 2016                                              1:01 AM

I’ve been working on my video—it is a reminiscence of those who’ve passed away, particularly our old friend, Cris Miller, but also of children grown up, good times gone by, and, really, just fragments of the past—so if I’ve left you out, it is only the combination of having far too many friends and relations (and too many pictures of them all) and the fact that photo-shopping and video-processing over one hundred photos is hard on my eyes, my back and my hands, which made me pass up hundreds more that I would have liked to include. I apologize in advance—and promise there will be other days and other videos. If you are included and don’t like your photo—I apologize for that as well. I tried to create a pleasant journey back in time—that was my only goal.

Among the departed, you will see pictures of my father, my Gramma Duffy, my Grampa and Gramma Dunn, my Aunt Lois, Claire’s father, her Nana Ruth, my brother Russell, my brother-in-law, Jimmy Alaimo, and old friends—Billy Woerter, Rob Freeman, and Cris. I lacked photos for Stephen Breen, Kevin Ivory, Joey Arena, George Lesti, or the legendary Gil Freeman. And I must confess, my weak memory keeps me from remembering the names of all my old friends who’ve since gone.


I have no trouble with faces, though, so a crowd of unnamed memories stand with those I remember and those in this video. This video is for me, but it’s mostly for all of them. However, this isn’t just a memorial—if you see an old picture of yourself, that doesn’t mean I thought you’d passed on! It simply means that, while you may be a part of my present, you’re also a fond part of my memories of the past.

Friday, September 09, 2016                                              4:44 PM

I made a three-day job of it—but it’s finally uploading to YouTube right now. Please don’t ask for an explanation of the non-chronological order or the randomness of the themes—it’s partly my memories, but also simply what pictures I had to work with.

I watched it through before posting—QC, don’t you know. I realize now this video is so personal that it won’t make a lick of sense to anyone else. It started out as a desire to use all eight pictures of Cris Miller that I had (plus some sketch-artwork from a finished picture, I’m proud to say, he once framed and hung in his home). It just got out of hand—I was suddenly haunted by all the photos I had of loved ones whose pictures (and memories) are all we have left. And then, some living loved ones slipped in, because ‘loved ones’—and then a few photos that were just ‘from the past’. I never could be organized.

The piano-video came first, luckily, because all this photo-shopping has worn me out. I thought it went well, but you decide.


Veteran’s Day

Sunday, November 11, 2012            7:45 PM

Okay. Sunday night. Veteran’s Day. The real date, although tomorrow is the observed holiday. That ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1914’ still gets me—you see, I’m reading “Fall of Giants” by Ken Follett and, while it is historical fiction, there is nothing fictional about his description of the callous decisions of so many nations’ leaders to send millions of young boys to their death. To have a fancy 11th this and 11th that—it’s just typical of the stuffed shirts and nobility of those times to try and aggrandize even the ending of the needless slaughter.

Still tens of thousands without electricity in the NYC Metro Area. Funny how it’s always the low-income neighborhoods that see this kind of neglect. Is there a rule or something? Can’t we at least hand out a bunch of those keychain flashlights that are given out at conventions, just so they can see their way up the stairs? They can’t be that expensive.

I see the news reports of General David Patraeus resigning over an affair—or is it two affairs? Two ladies having an email flame-war over him, something like that? When I first saw this story on the CNN crawl, I thought, “What the hell is the FBI doing investigating the head of the CIA?” But then I remembered a story in the NY Times from a day or two before—that Patreaus was having some trouble due to using military paradigms, but the CIA had always been a tightly knit group, leery of outsiders, used to being treated like a club more than an agency—and definitely not into military-style leadership.

So that made me wonder if the whole scandal thing was just their way of dumping their new boss. If a guy can’t hide his affairs how can he keep America’s more important secrets, eh? But I sympathize with Dave—being married and having two other women fight over you—you know that won’t end well. Still, I think the CIA has a lot of nerve copping a ‘tude—9/11, WMDs in Iraq, Arab Spring, Heavy losses in Afghanistan—will they ever warn us in advance of disasters instead of making excuses after the fact? Do spies even make sense in our present day? Surely very poor spies who do nothing useful can be considered redundant. Maybe they should start poaching personnel from the FBI.

I think a ‘sea-wall’ protecting Manhattan and environs from rising sea-levels and more powerful storms would be an excellent WPA-type project for creating jobs. Infrastructure nationwide should be considered as a part of the unemployment problem—roads, bridges, schools, whatever—and it increases the value of our assets to ‘put some work into the house’, as it were. And this time, along with a salary, we could offer workers credit towards tuitions—so they can get better jobs than pouring concrete, you know?

Just a thought…Image