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Showing posts with the label literature

Writers on the Storm

The legendary editor of Charles Scribner's Sons, Maxwell Perkins, worked with writers who became legends such as Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. None of these men knew celebrity until their first novel was published.

Back then, publishers invested in writers who could build careers. They paid modest advances and worked together to produce literature that could achieve commercial success. Some books would flop, others would yield a modest return, and some would be gigantic best-sellers. The best-sellers would fund the enterprise.


Publishing has changed since then.
An unknown writer presents undue risk to a publisher. To achieve profit they must invest in those titles the industry will support as best-sellers. That said, a writer with an established audience has leverage. For example, the Obamas were awarded a $60 million contract from Penguin Random House for the President's and the First Lady's memoirs. A safe bet by any calculation, but the pendulum f…

Drink on Hemingway

I drove through Islamorada in a fiery Mustang convertible with the top down and Marley and the Wailers playing over and over while my foot weighed down like gravity on the accelerator.

Spontaneous flight to Miami, now on the hunt for inspiration once owned by the man who left a blueprint to literary fortune in his short, swift typewriter strokes.


Hotel in Key West where a cute girl in navy blue g-string bikini waits poolside for me to make a move, but I'm incapacitated by irreverent sun beams and the beauty of her fresh tan lines.

Night falls. Drag queens on Duval Street singing Christmas carols. Ruckus up ahead, sirens and handcuffs, I turn left to Whitehead, to find blues burning from Caffeine Carl and the Funky Beans and wild locals getting loose on buckets of beer, drunk on the notion I'm in heaven, but it's filthy and lonely after a while.
Wallet empty, party strong, I leave dejected, seeking inspiration, call on Hemingway ... Show yourself, you son of a bitch.

And then I …

To Be a Kid Again

My wife and I promised our boys we'd take them ice skating this New Year's Eve and we made good on it. I haven't been on skates in ages and the sum total of times I have can be counted on one hand.

My youngest son is a big three, which means he's closer to four and he was unfazed when I laced up his tiny skates. He walked with a purpose to the edge of the rink, but when he stepped on the ice, his confidence shattered. His feet went in different directions like a foal outside a barn and he screamed from the top of his lungs for me to get him out of there. Problem was, I couldn't.

He held my hand as I clutched the wall and the two of us spiraled our way forward with the other skaters. At times, he would clutch me as if he was hanging off a cliff. Then a young girl came by and asked me if my son was learning how to balance. She couldn't have been much older than six. She told him to keep his legs straight, bend his knees, and walk like a penguin. I don't think…

The Body

The body is a source of sheer delight and immense disappointment. It is unique to each of us. It can be sculpted and it can change its shape without warning. We are its master and its victim.

Elle Macpherson was known as "The Body" after hers graced the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue again and again, meanwhile Jesse "The Body" Ventura used his on the battlefield, the wrestling ring, and the political arena.

The body of a newborn begins its journey to the body of an octogenarian. The intricate systems of the body keep it moving from start to finish, through shrieks of agony and pulsating electric shocks from the embrace of a lover.

It appears in scripture and in strip malls. It's in our work. It is the one thing you know best and hardly at all. We stare at it in the mirror and we stare at other versions on the beach or in the gym. At times, we covet it like a jewel.

Artists opine about the beauty of a body in masculine and feminine form. Scientists dissect i…

Ireland Baldwin Treats Us to a Lady Picture Show on the Heels of Dylan Penn

Far from a rude, thoughtless little pig, Ireland Baldwin will appear in a "some like it hot" portfolio by Arthur Belebeau in the number 11 issue of Treats! Magazine on the 4" heels of Dylan Penn who appeared in the number seven issue. Seven or 11 is quite a come out roll for the luscious pair who continue their ascendancy and are no longer a secret. Check it out:









Man Escapes Office Run by Zombies

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 -- A young man was rescued from a local business in Midtown yesterday that was run by brain-eating zombies.

"At first I didn't realize I was among the undead. There was not a lot of chit chat in the office and coworkers seemed to stare blankly at their screens all day. It was similar to my last job," he said.
The young man would see coworkers assemble and leave the office together around lunchtime, but only a few would return. These coworkers along with his managers often walked by him as if he was invisible.  
"I said hello to one woman each day who was always standing by the coffee machine, although no coffee ever seemed to come out of it," he said. 
He reports the work was mindless and that his biggest challenge was remembering his Windows login. 
"When I'd struggle to remember my password, a crowd of coworkers would gather near my cubicle and grunt at one another, but once I logged in, they'd vanish," he said. 
It was whe…

Dylan Penn and Ireland Baldwin No Longer a Secret

It's been two years since I predicted The Ascendancy of Dylan Penn and Ireland Baldwin, so it's time to take inventory. To date, the celebrity scorecard still has the Jenners and Kardashians leading the popularity contest, but the margin is dwindling. Last month, Dylan Penn and Ireland Baldwin crashed the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York with Ireland apparently leaving her lingerie behind in the dressing room. This spawn of Hollywood royalty is serious in its pursuit of modeling and acting and draws hordes of paparazzi by birthright. While the emergence of Ireland's cousin, Hailey Baldwin, and the increasing popularity of Gigi and Bella Hadid prove formidable, the glowing embers of  this dynamic duo are beginning to fan into flames and ascend the nation's tabloid rankings. Take a look:



Too Much, Not Enough - Redux

The choices that confront us today are confounding: products, recipes, TV shows, cocktail parties, radio stations, sporting events and so on ... The weight of deciding is bone crushing, sending us to those safe harbors we construct such as snack cabinets and wine cellars. Too much of anything is dangerous and not enough of it is maddening.

In the past week, I raked the leaves on the yard, fixed the gaping hole in the side of the house, roasted a 22-pound turkey, replaced the hard drive on my computer and had a heartfelt debate about elementary education. If asked how I accomplished any of it, I would shrug my shoulders and say "YouTube,"

The inundation of how-to's and DIYs are possible now that we can download information quickly from the cloud and not worry about storing it past the point of immediate need. My brain can only handle so much: address, social security number, kids' names, outcome of the Florida State vs. Florida game (Noles won!) before the distraction…

Nobody Knows Anybody. Not That Well.

Hard to believe 25 years have passed since Miller's Crossing was released. While I often think of the film, there is one line in particular that rings true, "Nobody knows anybody. Not that well." It's a line from the gangster Tom Reagan who's played by Gabriel Byrne.

I once took the Amtrak from Penn Station, NY to Union Station, DC with Gabriel Byrne. We disembarked at the same time and I stood behind him in line for the taxi cabs across from our Nation's Capitol. I recall his silver metallic wheeled bag hit my foot while we were waiting and for reasons I can't fathom, I asked him if I could take his picture. He politely said no and I waited an eternity for the line to move and him to get in his cab.
That line, written by the Coen Brothers, echoed in my mind the rest of the evening. "Why the heck did I ask Gabriel Byrne for a picture? I know better. I'm a New Yorker."
Truth is, I don't why I did it. I don't think any of us know why w…

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Cereal Reminds Marketers to Think Outside the Box

You finish ironing your wrinkle-free shirt and head downstairs to the breakfast nook where sunlight filters in through the window and out to the doo-wop of blue jays and the hustle and bustle of busy squirrels. The day has begun, but your body still clings to its late-night torpor. Coffee percolates its pleasant aroma and you reach in the cupboard for a box brought to you by General Mills, Kellogg's, Post or Quaker Oats. You pour the contents into a familiar bowl, add milk and Snap, Crackle, Pop!They're Gr-r-reat and Magically Delicious! The box sits opposite you with a friendly gaze of Dig'em, Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger or "Cap'n Crunch-a-tize me" with their gentle nudge to go get 'em. The snappin', cracklin', poppin' whole grain oats or rice or corn join the chorus as they're waking up, too. The sunlight in the room is golden like Honey Smacks, Combs, Cheerios and Bunches of Oats and you reach for your phone to check your texts, emails,…

Dave Letterman's Impact on a Homesick New Yorker

In one week dis May, we said goodbye to Don Draper, B.B. King and Dave Letterman. While I'll miss all three, Letterman's void is the widest and the deepest as I've watched him for most of my life and most of his late night career.

When it was Late Night with The World's Most Dangerous Band led by the incomparable Paul Schaffer, Letterman's antics were unpredictable, unusual and darn funny. I can recall being sick one summer and it seemed the only relief was Letterman and his "crash cam," a camera mounted on a skateboard that would crash into bottles and other visually impressive obstacles that would shatter and splash. Back then it seemed like Johnny Carson was Dave's opening act.

When I was at SUNY Buffalo, my roommates and I could barely afford rent much less cable or a decent TV. We'd have to shift the furniture around the living room to get reception and somehow, The Late Show always came through clearly. We'd gather like clockwork and no …

Winter's Coming

The hyperactive squirrels have been working overtime gathering their harvest for the winter and driving my retriever nuts as they always appear just out of reach.

On the road, there was a squirrel whose crossing ended midstream with a shattered acorn beyond its frozen grasp. Consumed with preparations for the future, the present blindsided it with swift, silent speed.

Halloween is a reminder of the grim worm-eaten world beneath our feet, rising up to cast its shadow in the overheard illumination we've constructed to ward off such creatures of the dark.

Winter's coming. Gather the game and the wood and the spirits and the furs and do your best to hide from those things that go bump in the night.

(Insert Vincent Price laugh here.)

Write What You Know

"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." - Ernest Hemingway

Nature kills, human nature, too, I wish that wasn't true.

"This above all - to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man." - Shakespeare, Hamlet

There was a man who cut in front of me at a crowded rooftop bar overlooking the Chrysler Building which popped against the deep blue Manhattan sky on a pleasant summer night. I brought it to his attention and he shrugged his shoulders. I recalled the wisdom of Queen Elizabeth, who when asked what lesson was the most important to learn in life replied, good manners.

"I don't know much, but I know I love you." - Written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow. Performed by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.

I was sitting beneath a tree having lunch on the campus of a large corporation when I called home. My mother and father, sister, nephew,…

Dylan Penn Treats Us to a Smoke Show

That didn't take long. Dylan Penn has signed on to do her first movie, a horror film titled Condemned. In the meantime, she grabbed the lucky number seven cover of Treats! Magazine with a scorching portfolio by Tony Duran. Check it out:






Thoughts at The Turn: Jennifer Lawrence, Blake Wingtips and Ernest Hemingway

Back breaking snow shoveling storms sabotaged my strategy to sip 18 taps of Blue Point brew on eastern Long Island before it gets trampled by Clydesdales, but now have time to dive into old blues albums while I jot down diversionary thoughts rather than face The Turn.

I've always likedTom Chiarella of Esquire and his piece 40: When You've "Made" It  is a great pep talk.

Speaking of Esquire, was it just me or was the February 2014 issue, Weird Men, not too weird? Then again, what would I know about it.


Can't wait for American Hustleto be available on Netflix. Something about that movie trailer with Jennifer Lawrence parading around in her underwear coupled with rumors of a kiss with co-star Amy Adams sounds intriguing.

Why is the whole world obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence anyway? I mean really Jack Nicholson, she's old enough to be your daughter's daughter. I guess I have nothing new to add to the tomes of internet adulation, but JLaw does seem like the gi…

The Origin of My Story Telling

It's funny how some memories lodge themselves in your brain like a poppy seed in your teeth. I have ones that have followed me for nearly three decades.

I recall being at a beach on the south shore of Long Island, most likely Tobay. I was playing in the waves with my friend. His mother loved to lay in the sun and since she worked nights, she took us there during the week when it was not crowded.

The sea was choppy that day my friends.

We were playing in the surf and I recall being thrown about by the waves like laundry in a dryer. It was exhilarating. As soon as I'd drift to shore I would look for my friend, eager to describe what had just happened. As I jabbered wildly, he nodded looking out to the horizon, lost in his own experience. I had this amazing feeling and this eminent desire to tell someone, anyone about it.

The emotion has never left me. It has aged like a fine wine.

Shortly after the summer, I had a writing assignment due in class. Not knowing where to start, I ask…

The Ascendancy of Dylan Penn and Ireland Baldwin

In the wake of holiday feasts when family and friends gather around the table for coffee and dessert, I'm often intrigued by the subjects that come up, especially when the group digresses into the did-you-hear gossip about celebs.
Last year Ireland Baldwin was the center of attention, but this year's belle of the cream-and-sugar bowl was Dylan Penn. For those who have not been introduced to either one, yet, these women are the exceedingly beautiful progeny of Hollywood couples Sean Penn and Robin Wright and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Behold:


I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that we will be seeing and hearing a lot more about Dylan and Ireland in the new year.

Message in a Bottle

It's hard for me to think of a message in a bottle and not hear the high pitched voice of Sting ringing in my ear. Then, of course, there's the man in tattered clothes with a ragged beard stuffing a scroll into a wine bottle that he hopes will one day lead to his rescue. This message adrift at sea, where will it end up and when might that be?

Not long ago I moved to the suburbs where my wife grew up and this past summer her best friend's parents sold their house to move to the California wine country. As such, we inherited many of the things they chose not to take such as an antique clock, a mahogany buffet and a hand-crafted Olhausen pool table, timeless treasures that were immediately put to use.

Every time my wife would send me to their home I went like a kid sliding down the banister on Christmas morning eager with anticipation. On the last trip, there were miscellaneous items set out on the driveway for collection, among them were some unopened bottles of wine and a …

Stray Dog

I believe it was James Joyce who once said that he could detect his wife's fart in a room full of farts. To know someone intimately is inevitable when you live with them. So too is the case with dogs.

In the kitchen, coffee poured, dog barks. I heed. It's the urgent, guttural growl to warn off potential invaders, which usually amounts to no more than the delivery man or the occasional skunk. Oh good, my pitching wedge has arrived, I think. (Cut to the image of my former pitching wedge entangled in weeds below the murky water hazard of the golf course where I last played.)
I rush to the front door and see a car and a man who looks vaguely familiar walking up my driveway looking in my and my neighbor's yard. I retreat to the kitchen to cut off his angle when he sees me through the window and rather than explain, he retreats to his vehicle. No sooner my wife shouts, "There it is! There's the dog!"
I race outside with bare feet and pierce through the brambles div…

LP Into The Wild

Laura Pergolizzi, aka LP, has a smash hit, Into The Wild,  that seems to be on constant replay in my home courtesy of Citi's commercial that features a woman climbing up a steep and stony precipice before reaching its pinnacle. This image may well personify LP's career at the moment.



I met LP around the time her second album, Suburban Sprawl and Alcohol, was released. She performed at my cousin's wedding, which was held on a perfectly manicured lawn of an old estate in Huntington, NY. It was a beautifully simple ceremony where she played her guitar and sang while the bride approached among rows of folding chairs with properly attired people like a scene from The Great Gatsby.
When the ceremony concluded, LP played the new couple and their guests off the lawn and in to the manor where a sushi station and well-provisioned bars were propped up in meandering, palatial rooms. It was at one of these bars where I introduced myself to LP as my uncle walked by with an accusatory gl…