Thursday, May 30, 2013

Al's Burnt Book: May 30, 2013


For the pedants among you, today is Thursday, May 30.
     Okay, we did that.
     I want to celebrate the return of my friend, Joseph Syzleyko, to Greensboro. Of course, he won’t stay long, probably only this summer, because  if anyone has wanderlust, it’s Ol’ Joe. Here’s a scratchboard he did, a self-portrait, Joe on his bicycle (see below). These days he rides a motorcycle, and he’s a bear, not an elephant. If the pedants are still with us, they’ll want to know that Joe’s untitled scratchboard drawing is from the Guilford College student magazine, The Piper, Winter 2002 issue. I notice a lot of art work by Noah Howard in that issue of The Piper.
     Yes, alas, Joseph left Nadia, the Colombia beauty he met at the U. S. Social Forum in Detroit several years ago. He’s been living with her Florida way. But, well, you know wanderlust.
Me, now, I ain’t got wanderlust. I got turtleitis, stayputness. Hate Moving Lust.
     Jennie asked me what my travel plans are for this summer. She’s off to Holland and who knows where else. (Anya off to Holland next month, too. Is it the free kif in Amsterdam or what?) I answered Jennie I might make it to Aycock & Lee Streets or, again, off to Freeman Mill Road and Florida . . .
     Yes, it’s eight o’clock, and I’m already hard at work. Daniel and Lauren Goans, nice enough to share their home with me, are in D. C. or Richmond, or Who Knows Where. They’ll stop in Sunday, then–you guessed it–off again. Strum, strum, strum on the guitar. Tra-la-la singing. They’ll introduce their first big album at my bookshop August 9 (Nagasaki Day).
     “So, Al, Joseph Syzleyko is back in town. What else?”
     Patience! I’m not through with my friend, Joseph.. He’s gonna build me at least two (2) bookcases. And fix the flourescent lighting better. One reason he returned is the wealthy private school he attended is re-doing another whole building on their campus, and Joe’s the best worker, they asked him to come supervise the operation, because he understands fluorescent lighting.
     Joe came in the shop yesterday and donated a dozen good books to the bookshop cache. Mike Bohlen came in, too, and dropped off a dozen superb books–he brings a carton of books every once in awhile for a twenty dollar bill.
     Jonathan Starch got the job he wanted at The School of the Arts. His supervisor said she had never seen a Reference Letter such as I wrote for Jonathan in her whole life.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12, 2013 :: from Bookshop Journal

     Paul Lavack visited Glenwood Coffee & Books yesterday (Saturday), and we had a nice talk and “catch-up.” I had visited Paul in his home, when he was recuperating from recent surgery. (He had collapsed at work.) Paul has written a novelette, 70,000 words, and he’s hired me to edit it. (I only charge $15/hr.) He also wants me to check out his blog, his “autobiography,” to read it and perhaps to see if it is publishable.
     Just last night, I was reading Ruskin’s Praeterita, which expanded the realm of autobiog genre considerably. Before Ruskin’s late-19th Century unfinished autobiog, there hadn’t been much of such a genre in Literature. And what autobiography there was concerned spiritual issues; one thinks of Augustine. Ruskin was the first to combine what today we would call a journal or even a blog and snapshots of one’s personal life. “ “Praeterita” seems to be a Ruskin neologism that he says simply means a rendition of past events of one’s life.
     Of course with my recent writing explosion of 20 journals in two years, I’m interested in anything written in this realm.
     Last night was the first use of The Back Room for an event since Maureen Kessler left the bookshop’s employ. Cakalak Thunder had a fund-raising benefit, party, dance, silent auction thingy. Cakalak is definitely a women’s creation. That was clear via the women who arranged it, the women who collected and distributed all the money, the women performers. I saw some of my old women friends (or, at least, once-friends): Joy, Audrey, Margo, Leila, Alyssa. Marnie, Devon, etc.  Saw Juan M. for the first time since Mo’s defection. ne of the silent auction offerings was a massage at Lotus Center, offered by Kamaleathahh Livingstone. Is she back in town?
     Cakalak gave the bookshop 20% of their “gate,” $30.00. And I sold a volume from my Penguin Classics. And some soda and coffee. I sat around, reading, until they finished shortly after midnight.
     I’ve done away with the amplified noise Mo brought into The Back Room (Punk Rock). Although, last month, the bookshop took in over five hundred dollars from renting out space in The Front Room, where the bookshop originated, where the coffee is. I like use of the front room much, much better than the raucous goings-on that used to break up The Back Room, with drinking and smoking and bad behavior in general. Punk Rock seems to be a Boy Thing, and today’s boys in their 20s aren’t a mob you want around, trust me.
     The girls do it differently, as last night’s party proves. The women were all dressed in extravagant puttings-on, costumes, silver and gold dresses, exotic headgear, wonderful! Creative and entertaining. Not just noise, dirt, alcohol, fights, and insults, like the boys do when Mo gave them their punk rock nights.
A very different crowd, neither the women I have described nor the men, is found in the bookshop when there’s a folk concert with acoustical music. That crowd seems religious, somber, reserved (total silence in fact, with respectful listening). It’s a much smaller group that comes to those here. Those concerts begin early and end early, and they’re my favorite. Think of Daniel and Lauren Goans' Lowland Hum.  Although an Extravaganza like the Cakalak Thing last night would be good, say, once a month. After all, I’ll be 77 this month, and I already work from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. 7 days a week, without parties at night, cleaning up, extra work . . . For thirty dollars! Of course, providing a community center for just such activities, has been part of the mission at Glenwood Coffee & Books. But, for me, obviously, what I really want to do is have a great bookshop resource for the community and, yes, if I can, have peace-and-justice meetings and a Public Space.

- -

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 1, 2013. Criminal Journal Entry

MAY DAY. A group of university seniors have been meeting in the bookshop all year, planning a big statewide May Day Event in Raleigh. God knows there’s plenty for them  to protest: huge classroom increases, fewer faculty, too many students, much higher fees, emphasis on sports and de-emphasis on The Humanities, tuition increases every semester, inflated administration salaries. You name it! The state legislature is planning Draconian cuts in education budgets!
     So a big rally has been planned for today. In the Occupy Movement and other exceptional activist meetings in which I have taken part thousands of times, time is strictly observed, usually two hours. One starts on time, say 4 p.m. and one ends at 6 on the dot. It’s part of the solidarity discipline. But these Milleneals, as today’s young people are sometimes called, are different. Because of the Cell Phone Revolution, this is a “fly by the seat of your pants” generation. Meetings are arranged and changed at a moment’s notice, all with the smart phone, with texting and its ilk. Nevertheless, the rally organizers met pretty consistently. Another difference is that students talk for hours, meetings last all day.  How much organizing do you have to do? For four months, I’d say the six or seven seniors and graduate students met for a full day about twice a month. To plan the Greensboro contribution to the May Day Rally in Raleigh. Much of the meetings were efforts to be made to get a large turn-out.
     A couple of weeks ago, Alyssa emailed me, “Could those going to the May Day Rally park their cars in the Bookshop Parking Lot?” The students wanted to car-pool, to pile into just a few cars and go together. Hey didn’t have enough people or enough money for a bus. Of course, I was happy to have the bookshop chosen as the gathering point for the cadres. Alyssa said the cars would be there from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
      Got up early. Perhaps the students would want to use the bathroom in the bookshop? How about complimentary coffee? But no one came. At 10 a.m., three of the organizers arrived. That was it. One automobile in the parking lot. The other with three kids driving to Raleigh to protest all these detrimental changes to what was once a pretty good state university system.
     One year ago, exactly one year ago, OCCUPY had been a pretty vibrant group. And, looking back, it died that week. May Day, 2012.
     When I say a pretty vibrant group, that’s an understatement. No fewer than 50 people attended “general assemblies” that were meeting twice a week. In addition, there were six active Working Groups that met weekly, that never had few than six in attendance and sometimes eight or ten to each meeting.
     Amendment One won heavily that first week of May, 2012. The women who had bottom-lined Occupy disappeared. Four of the six active working groups, a large gaggle of over 50 people who had been in the movement at that point for  9 months, dissolved instantly. They had been bottom-lined by the talented women who had become engaged in the Amendment One fight. But they abandoned their working groups without notice and without handing on responsibility of leadership, which meant the groups disappeared, never to reappear. Attendance at the general assembly (G.A.) dropped from 100 a week to less than 20. Finally, the General Assembly dissolved altogether. A few valiant souls kept two of the working groups–Energy & Foreclosure–going, and they are extremely active and successful to this day; although just four women pretty much killed Occupy in a single May Day ‘12, a blow from which Occupy never recovered. Were they burnt out? Were they so disappointed at the disgusting success of Amendment One anti-gay legislation? But why did they all . . . just disappear? No notice. No warning. Worst of all, no handing on of the baton they had assumed. Aside from numerous journal entries about this extraordinary betrayal that I have doused, not a single word has ever been said or written about this. The women were very popular and, to my knowledge, remain so. None of them has ever entered the bookshop since May 1, 2012, although they were in here two, three, four times a week for 9 straight months previously.
     Well, that’s my May Day ‘13 reflection. The working groups that were destroyed were: Education/Enrichment; Employment/Unemployment; Civil Rights; and Process/Access. It would take a book in and of itself to describe these incredible undertakings, what we members hoped from them, the benefits that would have accrued to the community. I think the story of their dissolution belongs in the Criminal Journal. And it seems to go, I’m not sure exactly how, with the invisible turnout sans students of May 1, 2013.
     When I was in Columbia in the 50s, one of the big international events was the U. S. assassinations of Patrice Lumumba and, immediately afterward, Dag Hammarskold, engineered bv the CIA.
I organized a rally on my campus, a march from New York’s West Side to the U.N. building. There were 2,000 undergraduates at that time at Columbia College–and another 20,000 students at the entire university, excluding Barnard. Plus a huge college staff and liberals in the adjoining neighborhoods. It was a pretty important issue, perhaps the single starting point of U. S. postwar oppression? But there were only nine (9) of us who attended the March.
     My disgust with Academia starts with that disappointing turnout. Hadn’t thought about that for a long time. Until today.

- 24 -

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013
E-Mail to Daniel Levi Goans
Daniel and Lauren are in Nashville, on the first leg of a southeastern tour for their music.
Dear Daniel,
     Woke up at 7:00, as usual. Decided that today, for the first time in years, I would not charge up my computers and get to work. I'll read.
     Now it's an hour later, and I've already worked an hour and have plans for another two. Then I'm off to the Farmer's Market.
     The Yanceyville Street Farmer's Market is my favorite thing in Greensboro. Thousands of people, and I know so many of them. Fresh, local produce. Today, I'm after a crusty homemade bread, the unpasturized milk from a local farmer, and some flowers. (Bought a flower vase yesterday.)
     My new neighbor, Kristie, is driving me. She's never been to The Farmer's Market. She's after flower plants for her first garden, being built across the bookshop parking lot. (Kristie rents from Andrew The Bad.)
     I guess you guys have a "gig" it being Saturday? But, I remember, you said one of your gigs has been tragically cancelled! I'm so sorry.
     I made a special huge cold cup of coffee for Kristie. I bought 1,000 cold cups (and lids) made out of corn (clear plastic). I love those cold cups made out of corn. Got a "deal" . . . $88 for 1,000. Deal on lids . . . $58 for 1M. Free shipping, too. Eco-Co. in Boulder has "deals" every day. I bought 3 oz corn-clear-containers and lids in one of those deals: $20 for 100. I'm selling oranges in them and "Trail Mix." Can't wait for Lauren to set up "The Espresso Bar." Aren't we like kids playing Store?
Love you both,

Monday, April 22, 2013

CAT’S JOURNAL: April 22, 2013

     Cats are said not to talk, in other words, we don’t speak English. Americans don’t believe Chinese “talk” either, unless they’re talking English. American travelers brag that, “Everywhere we go, everyone talks English!” Right this minute, there are a million Chinese students learning English. (And around 10,000 Americans learning Chinese.) Well, they say, “Ignorance is Bliss.” I hope so, for all your sakes. You deny “the climate crisis,” and how long before the Chinese rule the roost?

     Sure I can talk. What kind of idiot question is that? I speak Cat, and, you might want to know, I can talk nglish, too. If I wanted to, that is. But I don’t want to. I’m not Chinese. I don’t want to conquer the Planet, I feel we cats have already conquered the planet enough.  We’ll be here long after you’ve drowned yourselves with the water from the Greenland Glaciers.
     Anyway, if you could hear Al talk, you’d be embarrassed. “Glenwood,” he talks, “this morning we’re going to the supermarket, Glenwood. Yes, this morning, we’re going to buy kitty some food. Yummy. Cat food, Glenwood. Good, huh?”
     That’s the idiot way he talks to me. I say, “That’s just fine, Alan. You run along now. I’ve got work to do. Don’t forget your glasses. Don’t forget to put on a jacket, it’s quite cold out this morning. Don’t forget your wallet. Don’t forget your “food stamps” card. Better take some cash, too, because you need Kleenex, and they don’t allow that on the Food Stamps. And take some quarters for the Laundromat. Their change machine was broken last time you went.” On and on. Between you and me, I think we’re looking at early onset of Alzheimer’s. We need a new stronger word for “forget, when it  comes to him. You know he’s going to be 77 in 30 days, right? Look for more  “Senior Moments,” is what I say.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


April 21, 2013

I bet you're surprised to see a photograph of me in my blog, since I've had so much trouble importing graphics lately. But there I am, posing next to one of the three Library Ladders in my bookshop. And how come?
     Because a Ms. M. Lopez, a graduate MFA-Art student at UNC-G who's a computer whiz, showed me how. She's a "MacIntosh Person," and I was given a "P.C.", but she figured it out in a jiffy.
     You "right click" on the image you want to import, and you select "Picture" and you save that as a JPeg. Then you simply import that graphic (now a JPeg) into your blog.
Ms. Lopez and her friend are also giving me an iPod so I can get a "PayPal Square" credit card account in order to offer credit card payments at the bookshop. Yesterday was my "best" day at the bookshop in about six months. I think I'm finally restoring it, having unpacked all the books that were in boxes and am now keeping regular hours. I have more or less closed The Back Room. I think we've done our duty for the Punk Rock Music Scene and Occupy Movement, which used that public space. There's still the large bookshop public space for smaller gatherings. In fact, the U. U. Covenant Church meets there this morning (Sunday).
Last night, I totally missed Daniel and Lauren's Home Music Event. I was so tired I forgot all about it, although I had been looking forward to it for a month. I also irretriveably lost my glasses. I have to face getting too old to run around the way I do. What wore me out was a fabulous activist event we all did downtown in Center City Park, which we rented for $350--imagine the city charging that for citizens to meet in their park--and Cakalak Thunder wanted to rent my Back Room for a fund-raising event and took umbridge at my asking one hundred dollars for a whole day! The Energy Working Group of Occupy Greensboro planned and pulled off a great Earth Day Event downtown, I'm so delighted with us all.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

the nice journal: april 18, 2013

I had decided to write about non-profits in my Nice Journal this morning before this latest irony arrived in my GMail inbox.
     This is a photograph of Dr. Andrea Smith, who will be giving a lecture at the local Academic Institution Saturday. (Note: I couldn't import and insert the photograph.)
     Dr. Smith is first among equals when it comes to liberal politics and movements on the West Coast, for example editing Incite Magazine, for example her book, Conquest, for instance another book she edited, The Color of Violence. And she speaks to my journal entry today in her book, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded. Even the lecture she will be giving at the university is bizarro in that she will be condemning Academia for not teaching but being really in the business of making money by parasiting off Education and peoples' real aspirations and pitiful yearning for learning. "Learning, doing this in the Elliot Student Center of a university that is destroying our Glenwood neighborhood! Not Schooling," is the title she gives her $5,000-a-shot lectures.
     Dr. Smith is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside branch and a student herself, in Law School.
     Well, enough about Dr. Smith. There's hundreds of them in the university factories, and that's the point of this journal entry.

In my 77 years, I have noticed that in our Western Culture, people, especially young people, are full of high principles and high-principled ideals. Often, they begin achieving them, begin laying the foundation of some radical enterprise. Then it stops. "It" being the creative, revolutionary side of their endeavors. What takes its place is usually increasingly high salaries and fund-raising on the "do good" cause of the moment. You can always note that turning point, because its when the "idea" becomes an Institution. It is the institutionalization that causes the rot.
     Once an individual tries to actualize his or her ideal, in our culture,  it's time to make some money out of it.  To do this, you institutionalize, often creating a non-profit. So, creativity ends and commercialism begins. Sometimes, young people plan this "milking" process from the beginning!
     Nice middle-class liberals become Democrats, naughty doers for themselves become Republicans. A plague on both their houses.
     Nice, un-nice. Who cares? It's still The Bourgeoisie.
     So, no, I dislike non-profits. They're out for money, they're out for profit. But they add to this disgustingness by disguising their profit motive under the umbrella of Do-Good.
     It's like Mao Tse-tung said, "Republicans are easier to deal with than Democrats. Republicans are war-mongers, and they make no bones about it. Democrats are war-mongers, but they pretend to do good, they hide their barbarityand brutality. And he hadn't even met Obama.."
     Academia is the obvious receptacle for liberals who feel guilty if they admit their materialism. When you sit in on their private discussions, it's all about money. But, in class, in their "departments" as they call it, it's all about doing good and how corrupt everyone else is.
One of the most popular radical non-profits in North Carolina just at the moment is N. C. Warn.  Give them a few more years to get utterly corrupt. But the roots are already there.
     The finest person in Greensboro in organizing along the lines of N. C. Warn is V. Warren.  She foolishly applied for a non-profit job with them, organizing. And they were wise enough to seriously consider offering her the job. I mean V-- is The Most. Courageous and experienced, great mother, idealistic beyond her 20's, when it takes gumption.Sensational administrator, hard worker. She's got it all.  The only other woman put together like V-- in Greensboro is Marnie Thompson.
     N. C. Warn warned V-- she'd have to move to Durham, where they are headquartered. "Why?"
     Of course she can't move from Greensboro, where she and her husband live and work, where her children go to school, etc. etc. Why does she have to move? After all, her job will take her all over the state. Organizing in Durham? It's already organized. N. C. Warn is already there. But, of course, when you realize N. C. Warn isn't created for organizing. It's created for N. C. Warn, for the administrators, for their salaries and other needs. That's why you have to move to . . . Durham!
It's an institutional non-profit is what it is–organizing for . . . itself! It started life doing good and, well, it's doing very well thank you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17, 2013
from Another Publishing Journal

That’s a scan of the first copy of Unicorn Press’s (and my) book,
Robert Smithson. A memoir. Well, it was supposed to be a scan, but I've forgotten how to crop scans that I import into my blog, so I can't include it, alas.
      I’ve boxed in an email I just sent Dr. Tim Martin, whose email to me a couple of months ago launched the Smithson project (in smaller type below).
Meanwhile, Paul Vavack emailed me that I Mustn’t mention Maureen “Mo” Kessler anymore in my blogs. He’s sure it will prejudice the Mediation he and Kate Dunnagan are planning for the reconciliation between Mo and I (former partners). Paul had some serious surgery but yesterday went back to work.


Progress! Sent Copy # 1 to Nancy Holt. Have another dozen all set to go. How many do you want? They're $18 apiece. (Numbered/signed edition, 100 copies.)
     You can pay through Pay Pal once I get that set up (I'll let you know when that's set up). Send me your address again and how many you want.
     Would it be all right to "split" the postage cost (in addition to the list price of the book)? It turned out to be more expensive than I assumed. (The postal service has done away with "Printed Matter" rate abroad.)

All the best,

     My friend, Ken Knight, warned me when I hired “Mo” that it would be “Marriage Without The Sex.” And so it’s proved, especially now that there’s a “divorce”!
     And, like a divorce, one has to process the experience, especially the bitterness and disappointment. I don’t have a partner like Mo has (Dave Reed). I have no doubt Mo’s really filled his ear about Ol’ Al and his misdeeds and all her complaints.  But who is my “ear”? I guess the universe, in the form of my blog. (And these journals I write.)
     I apologize if it’s been tedious. I’ve taken comments from my Cat’s Journal and my “Criminal Journal” as well as Another Publishing Journal  to place on my
     Mo separated from me, “divorced me” Friday April 5. Here it is 12 days later, less than 2 weeks, and I’m ready to move on. Not bad! So no mo Mo for your dilectation.

On a another happy note, my Art Department buddies have re-emerged.
In the 2011/2012 school year, Lee Walton and Sheryl Oring brought their art department students here to the bookshop to hold classes here to which I was welcome. But, in these past 8 months, they have completely disappeared. Even though they invited me to give the COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS May, 2012–which was pretty exciting.
     Last week, Lee brought an interesting class and their project over for a session in the bookshop, first time in a year. And yesterday, Sheryl visited the bookshop and asked permission to bring her “Art and Politics” class over to the bookshop next week.  I get to be the co-teacher at these art class sessions.
     My style of teaching–and I do this with Spoma Jovanovich’s “Communications Class” too–is to put everyone in a circle of comfortable seats and begin with a “Check In.”
     “What’s a check-in?” I ask the group. We discuss the Woman’s Liberation contribution of the check-in. Then we check in! I get to know everyone’s name . . . And a little about each member of the class.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

 April 16, 2013: Bookshop Journal

     Lauren Goans was nice enough to include me on a safari to Costco. Mo bought a Costco Memberhip for Glenwood Coffee & Books soon after joining us. She buys huge boxes of individually packaged snacks that we sell for 75-cents to $1.25 in the coffeeshop and drinks like "Izzie's" and "Coca-Cola" for a dollar or more. These items generally cost less than half what we charge. Lauren told me they charge almost two dollars for a banana at Green Bean; costs less than a quarter.   What we used to do before Mo was buy from Angie, who lives a block away and has her gluten-free bakery here on Grove & McCormick, ZenKat she calls her business. Very tasty, very local, very healthy. But Angie charges $1.75 per package, and you have to sell it for $ 2.50. Mo got rid of the ZenKat business and went for Costco. Ultimately, I think, Mo got disgusted with maneauvers like that she felt forced into: profits, money-making.
     Unlike me, Mo can't live on nothing. As long as I could, I gave her $700 a month, little enough. But, then, there just wasn't any more money. Ironically, the well dried up because she closed down the bookshop for 5 months while trying to form the A-Z bookshelves into categories. Book sales dried up. On the one hand, almost all our books were unavailable, in cartons, in piles on the floor in the back room . . . no customers allowed.  On the other hand, while Mo and her assistant, Juan, played with these cartons of books, she kept the door locked.  Customers came to the store, as they had, intermittenly, for five years, and like as not, found the store closed.
     Where was I while this devastation took place? I had turned management of everything over to Mo, who, after all, had to run it when I died or got too old to work anymore. She had to learn sometime, although Christmas retail season maybe wasn't the best time! Our 2011 sales had been $2,500/mo during November and December. Under Mo's tutelidge this went down to $500 per month. So she couldn't get her $700/mo any more. Where was it supposed to come from? At 77 years of age, my income, social security, didn't even cover the rent, which I pay every month ($750).
     Mo insisted she knew retailing. So I didn't butt in. But, finally, in March, with books still in cartons for the fifth month, I asked her permission to begin  doing the shelving. She was very grateful for the help; she disappeared; I returned as manager. The shop looks terrific now, six thousand titles all in order and available. Of course, it will take the rest of the year to build back the business.
     I'd like to return to Angie and Zen Kat and her delicious gluten-free brownies.
Profit is half what you can make from Costco, but, really . . . Costco!!! As my mother used to say, "Feh! Tref!" I embrace the "Slow Food" ideal. And I'm sure, in her heart, Mo did, too. Only she felt driven to make money, I think.     It's 10 days since Mo stormed out of here and Dave threw her keys in my face. I've gone through the six stages of grief Kubler-Ross talks about when there's a death in the family. Anger and denial and depression . . .
     Mutual friends and Peace Movement comrades are trying to get Mo and me to a Mediation Table, which I've been in favor of since Day One. I don't know how Mo feels about any Reconciliation. In the two long talks we had when she told me she was leaving (with three days notice after a year and a half partnership), we were peaceful with one another. But there was a flare-up the next night, Mo stormed out, "Dave And The Keys," and she left me in the lurch, she left hurt, in tears, furious.
     Yes, I've felt a lot of resentment and depression  in the past ten days. But that's foolish. The truth is I love Mo, I admire her tremendously. I'm sure hardly anyone knows how intelligent she is. She's a whiz. And, of course, she's known for her bravery. I assume everyone knows she's an extremely talented artist. She's made this place beautiful, and we get many a compliment when someone finally comes in.
     I've been humming the old hymn, "Love will guide us/Peace inside us" for the past week. Trying to find a peaceful center, return to my loving heart, caring for Mo like I always have.     I realize, yes, there might have been a little too much of This, not enough of That in her year and a half here. But 99% of it was magnificent. I'm sorry she thinks, if she really does, that she failed. That we failed. That Glenwood Coffee & Books was a failure. I'll bet you no one else, except maybe Dave Reed, feels that way. I definitely don't.
     From any point of view of my desires when I first opened this community book shop, all my goals have been reached, I am 100% satisfied. Sure I wish people would support their local bookshop. But do I support my local Gluten-free Bakery, owned by Angie, who lives a block away? No one is perfect. Ours is a Selfish Individualistic Culture.
     Mo and I did a great job. Our intention was to create a public space, a community center. We certainly did that. I was willing and able to live without taking any money out of the business, without relying on it for a cent. Partly because it provided free rent or at least a futon on which to sleep at night. (I miss a shower, a stove, hot water, Heat, air-conditioning.) I get Food Stamps, and Mo is eligible for Food Stamps, too, but for some reason she refused to apply for them. I get $125, which is all I need every month.
     Mo's needs are more complex (student loans, rent, medical bills). But Glenwood was unable to meet her needs. So she left. I don't believe she's correct in saying, "I failed, because you were living here and people are uncomfortable coming into a place where an old man lives." I doubt if one person in a hundred know I live here. For four years, the landlord didn't know I lived here. Even some of my best friends didn't know where I lived. And those who knew I lived here shopped here. So I think she's just making excuses, justification for what she perceives as some kind of "failure." Yes, she failed in the Money Department. But this place wasn't set up to make money from the get-go. That wasn't the goal. We had a very different mission, as Mo knew fully. For the only meeting we ever had, when she began work here, we wrote down our common goals and desires and "making money" wasn't one of them. Of course, at the beginning, she got $700/mo out of my pocket, but then my pocket dried up. The bookshop didn't generate any cash any more. And she couldn't get enough out of the coffee/snack sales and amplified music in The Back Room. A little but not as much as she wanted.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

CAT’S JOURNAL: April 13, 2013

     Today I want to meow about my relationship with Al. The 21st Century (for Humans, Cats have been around much, much longer) has seen quite an interest and development in Relationships. You can’t climb a tree without having a relationship with the tree, the squirrels, Who Knows What. It’s not just humans, cats too are filled to the maw with the “R” word. So, much as I despise cliché, I’ll bow to my peer pressure and fill you in. Al is a co-dependent jerk, if you already know him. You know that song from Oklahoma, “I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say No”? That’s the man I have to look after. Always up to his neck in trouble. Of his own making. And, why? Because he doesn’t know how to use the “N” word. If there’s one thing cats are good at . . . You know it!
     Some one comes into the coffeeshop. Grabs a bottle of Vitamin Water. “How much?” “Oh,” says Al, “It’s only a dollar.” Everything with him is a dollar. I’m crying inside, “$ 1.75,” you moron, I’m telling him. But he’s a “people pleaser.” “It’s only a dollar.”
     How much for a cup of coffee? “It’s only a dollar.” Well, let me tell you, it’s a dollar and a half everywhere else. Even here, Mo charged $ 1.25, and she’s almost as bad as he is.
     “How much for this book?” Al . . . The tag says clearly twelve dollars.
     Al says, “Twelve dollars! That’s too much. Let’s say $10.”
     He paid ten dollars for that book. Just glance at the invoice, moron. Let’s get a grip here, fella.
     You see what I mean? You’d think, when it came to my food–now we’re getting to the nitty gritty–I’d be in Cat’s Heaven? Not so. He’s very diligent about my food.  Doesn’t want me to get fat. I ask you! I can look after myself, thank you very much.
     In other homes, Humans have gotten it into their heads that cats only eat what they need. So they fill our bowls with tons of food.  We keep them thinking that way. But, Al? He never heard of that. I get a handful of Kibbles sometime in the morning, sometime at night. Forget regularity.
          You’d think a man 77 years old would have learned something? He prides himself on Communication. Another buzz word with you Humans lately: communication. There’s even a fehrstunkenah Department of Communications at the local Educational Facility, you all call an (ugh) University. There’s a damn University at every train stop in North Carolina.  I swear, every 25 miles! It’s so the locals can watch Basketball. The local yokels are bankrupting themselves to get a Class 1 basketball team going. They don’t even play at their local gym anymore. No, The Coliseum. Gym ain’t good enough. It’s positively Roman I can tell you.
     But back to . . . Communication. Thinks he’s the cat’s meow when it comes to that. Here’s the gen. I communicate that food would be a good idea. We all had our little handful this morning. How about the “one cup a day” rule? Says so on the package. Handful loads about a quarter of a cup, even if you’ve got a large paw.
     So I do what any self-respecting cat would do. I follow him around. I sheep-herd him to the food bowl, to the larder, I dog-heel him, you’ll excuse the expression. I use every trick in the Animal Farm. Does he listen? No. Does he understand? I ask you.
     I’m reluctant. I don’t want to do it. But, okay! I shit in the corner. I piss on the couch. But he just doesn’t get it. He takes me to the Vet to check for Urinary Infection.  I’m hungry! It ain’t no urinary infection, you idjet. It’s just simple, ordinary famished.
     “Look how big that cat is,” well, that’s doesn’t help. He already thinks I’m too big.  Didn’t the Vet tell him two years ago, when I got my passport that my natural weight was ten pounds? That’s what I am. Ten pounds.  Give or take a few pounds.
     Well, excuse me while I drink some water. I might as well start pissing in the cat’s pan again. He can’t communicate. You call that Communication? I don’t. He thinks he’s a good Listener. Let me tell you something. It’s not how much  you listen, it’s how well you listen. Might as well purr for a . . . a dog!
     I’m getting hoarse, it’s so irritating. You can cry till the cows come home. No one listens. No one cares. Cats know this in their bones. They can make nice all they want, but we remain properly skeptical.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 2013: Cat's Journal excerpt

     Al isn’t much fun to be with the last four days, because Mo left him over the weekend. She doesn’t like us anymore?  They seemed to get along fine. I don’t get it. It’s true Mo hadn’t been to see me for four or five weeks, but I was busy, I guess Al was too, and no one said anything. Then she came in, about a week ago, after this long absence and said she had failed to do what needed to be done to make the bookshop successful. Seems successful to me!
     She said it was a failure. And she blamed me for living here. Wow. Doesn’t make sense to me. Because I live here, that’s why there’s no “street traffic,” not enough book/coffee sales? That’s why The Back Room isn’t more profitable? I thought customers liked me! They’re always bending down to pet me or play with me. In fact, it’s quite exhausting sometimes. I’m working my butt off!
     Maybe she’s wrong? Who knows? The bottom stripe is she gave about an hour’s notice, then she was outta here.
     At first the parting seemed amicable, as far as humans are amicable anyway. But then, suddenly, she hissed at him and wouldn’t speak to anyone. Her tail got all big and her cheeks pouched up. You'd think there was a dog in the room. Haven’t seen her since. She sent another cat over the next day with her keys.
     That was tough, because she had arranged to have “Vagina Monologues” performed Saturday and Sunday. Come Saturday Night, Al and I were worn out. But we had to “cover” the Theatre, because Mo just isn’t comin’ back. Confusing. She also had another gig planned for tonight. We didn’t know about that. Truth is she isn’t a Great Communicator, and Al and I never know when we have to be on tap. But then she cancelled that performance, a punk rock show put on by WUAG, for which they paid $200. I bet they weren’t happy having that canceled less than a week before the event. Phew. Never a dull moment.
     Well, it’s none of my business. Al has to deal with that. I have enough to do. But my feelings are  hurt. I thought Mo liked me. She was pretty good with cats and dogs, as far as humans go. I mean you all are just plain dumb when it comes to knowing how to treat anyone, even yourselves. That’s why I’m writing this here journal.
     Mo was pretty nice to clip my nails from time to time, if she remembered. They’re really sharp right now. She’s also forgotten to give me my flea medicine, and it’s getting’  hairy I can tell you!
     At least Al never forgets my kibbles and water. Not once. And he’s fanatical about keeping my pan emptied, fresh, and clean. Thank God for small favors. Phew.
     Ever since “Vagina Monologues” is over and Mo is gone, it’s real peaceful around here. I have my daily chores, same as before. So the only impact on me is probably going to be less work.  Mo kept the place pretty lively, I can tell you. Although she was always locking me up in my room. I guess now I know why. She really thought my living here is a deficit. Golly! I thought a lot of these people, especially the children, actually came to visit me.
     I’m beginning to see why Al is mopin’ around the last few days. What a bummer. Turns out we’re the reason Mo failed.
     But, you know what? I don’t see that we’ve failed at all. I mean, how do you measure success. Just by money? From that perspective, yes, the bookshop don’t pay for itself, can’t afford Mo and Juan, or any worker.  We just don’t sell enough books, never will. For sure, Al and I have never gotten a dime. Those cats at AMAZON have it all wrapped up and tied with a pink ribbon. No loyalty around here for a local business.  Can’t tell you how many of our friends have bragged to us they got this and that at, how they downloaded this and that on to their Kindle. Thanks a big bunch! Bookshops dyin’ like flies all over the place, not just us.
     But we’ve been in business five years. Created an important public space here in ol’ Greensboro.  We’re gonna carry it on. For sure. So where’s the failure? That’s what I want to know!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

the nice journal: april 9, 2013

Once again, I must get to the Carolina Dermatology Center, Dr. Tateen. I had to go there to get a growth cut off my ear last May, something they call "basil cancer" or somesuch. Now there's a new growth that Dr. Eihger at Eagle Physicians Corporation thinks has to be looked at, similar scalpel need from the funny, Brooklyn-born Tateen. Looking forward to seeing him again. He told me he loves novels but he can't find any he can read. He reads the first chapter, then throws the book away. I gave him the best novel in my bookshop, Giuseppe Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo, translated as The Leopard (N. Y. Pantheon, 1958). So April 30, when I have to go again, I'll surprise him with Doctor Zhivago or Teo Savory's To A High Place. I'll enjoy doing that.

Charlie drove me to the doctor's office yesterday. And he'll probably be nice enough to drive me to Dr. Tateen at the end of the month. Kate Dunnagan and I visited Paul Lavack yesterday. Paul's out of the hospital. And, last night, I saw Kate again–and Carol, Tom, Sarah, and Valerie Warren, too–for an Occupy Energy Working Group Meeting here in the bookshop. We're working on an action entitled "The Raleigh Convergence," coming Earth Day weekend . . . bicyclists from all over the state converging to work for alternative energy (alternative to mountain top removal, coal, fracking. alternatives to oil and nuclear fission). Interesting how we citizens have to work against our political leaders! You'd think "political leaders" would lead, politically. Instead, they have to be pushed and, often, pushed out of the way! We're having an artist sign party, for the event, here in the bookshop's Back Room this Sunday, 3 p.m. (Earlier I'm off to I.R.C. to serve a free breakfast there, with my fellow Unitarians--something we do once a month at IRC and once a month at the bookshop!)

I felt pretty bereft in the bookshop yesterday. Because Mo wasn't here anymore. She left without any notice after a year and a half.  She meant to leave with at least a few days notice, but she got angry at me and used that as an excuse to leave with about 4 hours notice!!! After a year and a half. Fortunately, I've worked with young men and women in their 20s all my life, and I'm used to their ways, which includes appropriately enough getting bored with idealistic enterprises they join for awhile to try them out. They get over-enthusiastic and then overly disabused. They're going to change the world in a flash, and get burned out trying. I know I  did. That may also be Mo's passionate style, which I admire tremendously. But.   

     In the Occupy Movement, as a woman member in her 30s shared yesterday, there were a lot of men and women in  their 20s who just left. No notice, no warning, no nothing. They seemed to be responsible people, but they simply dropped working groups that they had agreed to bottom-line: Education, Civil Rights, Employment–and several other crucial working groups: just kerblang!
     I have had over 40 young men and women work for me and with me in the 47 years I've been member and a director of Unicorn Foundation and Unicorn Press, an alternative small press craft poetry pubisher and peace and justice activity. Over 40 who worked two years or more full-time. Half of them dropped out after those two years in anger and resentment, justifications flying. Too much work, too little pay, impossible working conditions, misunderstandings–all true. But never taking responsible for their part of all the mess. Accepting praise for the goodness, yes, but unable to see their part in the disarray.
     Mo says the reason she failed was I was living in the bookshop space. You can see her point: an old man who is obviously camping out in the bookshop office. Unappetizing. But was that really 100% of the affair? In any case, why does she think she failed? We kept a vital, enviable, successful public community space going.  We did this together.  Without any money. That's failure? Of course, as usual, ol' Al is left to pick up the pieces and carry it on!
I certainly intend to carry it on, as I have for 60 years now. I'm not a quitter! Mo will join the 20,000,000 college students in America . . . she says. Half of those drop out, too. I wished her "good luck," and I meant it.As the French say, "Bon chance!" Love will guide me. Peace inside me.

Charlie had a great suggestion from George Huger. Charlie married George's mother 18 or more years ago. George is a wizard at computer stuff, the new internet entrepreneurship, that kind of thing.
     Charlie's schtick is Permaculture gardening just as mine is books (book-making, book-selling, book-writing, book-publishing, teaching about books). Charlie teaches about Permaculture. Gives workshops for which he might charge $500–$1,000 a person. He has one workshop now with 22 subscribers.
     Anyway, George was giving Charlie some suggestions about how he could use the new youthful technology to further his service, his Permaculture ministry, and make even more money, broaden his approach, etc.
     The advice was simple. "Charlie," George recommended, "walk around your garden with a smartphone . . . and take a couple of interesting pictures. Then write for an hour about them. And blog it." That was step one. The second step, which George said he'd help Charlie with, is marketing and promotion (to build up an internet following). And the third and final step is how to turn all that into money.
     I have no interest in steps two and three.  But step one sounds terrific. As you know, I write journals. Completed ten (10) last year, and I'm working on another ten, like this one and my new Criminal Journal, Cat's Journal, Childhood & Old Age, Another Publishing Journal, Glenwood Coffee & Books, Al's New York Journal, etc. What if, when I talk about someone, Charlie for example, I take a picture of them and include it in the journal, in the blog that I usually create from my journals?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Another Publishing Journal: April 8, 2013

I was unable to get the two illustrations referred to in this blog
into the blog. I'll do better in the future, but it didn't work graphically today!
Emil Antonucci drew this illustration for Teo Savory for the contribution, Little Bear, in her 1977 Unicorn Press volume, A Clutch of Fables
     Little Bear is a fable about being an artist, a writer actually, misunderstood by just about everybody important to her and to her success. Teo was portraying herself.
     Whenever I think of Teo, to whom I was married 32 years, I picture her immediately at her typewriter. Teo’s stance at the typewriter was not slouching like Little Bear but much more upright, not a depressed expression on her face, but more vigorous. But she’s typing. Hans Rey portrayed her just right in a letter he wrote to her about the same time as the Antonucci drawing. I’ll put the Hans Rey drawing at the top of the next page.
     Hans of course is the creator of Curious George, and he and Margaret Rey, who  wrote most of the Curious George books, were good friends of ours. Hans wanted us to publish something of his, but Teo wrote back that we had just moved and, in fact, had no office . . . She had to do her work right there, in the P. O. Box we rented at the post office! And this quick-witted artist got it right.
     Today is my first day of work without Mo. That’s Maureen “Mo” Kessler, with whom I’ve worked in harness for the past year and a half, here at Glenwood Coffee & Books.

When I think of Mo it’s not sitting straight-up in front of a typewriter or even standing tall before an easel, it’s running into the bookshop, needing a cup of coffee.  But I like decaffeinated, and that’s what is usually brewing.
     Mo grabs three or four empty gallon jugs and heads for the water supply in the back room. One of her bette noirs is there’s no water supply into the coffeeshop, no drain. We use gallon jugs and an empty bucket! For a year, Mo has desired to get me out of the little enclosed room in our shop, where I live. She wants to see that used as a kitchen, one with a door and a hatchway, that you can keep clean, that has a water supply and a drain.
     Moreover, as she shared when she told me she’s “outta here,” she doesn’t see how she can attract customers into a place where an old, sick man lives!
     This morning, Mo won’t be running in here (“running” is how she walks, which to a turtle like me is memorable). Won’t scrunch up her nose when I tell her it’s decaf in the carafe. Won’t grab three or four empty gallon plastic bottles and head for the bathroom to fill them. Won’t flash her wide, toothy smile at me, although she doesn’t feel like smiling before a big cup and huge gulp of coffee. What a ragmuffin. I feel this echoing silence, this emptiness in the space this morning, very depressing.

- 16 -

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 6, 2013

     As of yesterday, Mo and I ain't speaking to each other.
     We closed up at 9:30 last night, because it was the first formal performance of "Vagina Monologues" (they've been rehearsing here for a couple of weeks now). Mo left without saying good-night. We hadn't talked all day, her first full day in the bookshop in four weeks.
     How we got to this point is what I'd like to journalize. (I hope you know all the stupid slang in my journals is intentional, not that this makes it less vulgar, but at least it isn't as stupid as you might think.)
     So, you're warned. This won't be pleasant to read.
     And, I suppose, I owe you an explanation of why there were no entries in February and March, 2013, in this journal entitled Glenwood Coffee & Books.  I've covered my disregard of the journals the past couple of months in my new journals (Criminal Journal, Cat's Journal, Another Publishing Journal).  Basically, the excuse is a good one, I've been writing like mad, but small booklets (on Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Robert Smithson–memoirs about people I've known who have influenced me: Thich Nhat Hanh, Daniel Berrigan, s.j., Teo Savory).

This week, Mo and I had a couple of good talks. As you know, I think she (and Valerie Warren and a few other "Occupy" women) is the finest person I have ever known or met.  I have to go all the way back to Zakira ("Patti Field"), 1970, or a superior person like Kammaleathahh Livingstone, to find her equal. I've been privileged to be friends with a large number of really saintly or extraordinary or talented or brilliant young men and women in my 77 years. None are finer, perhaps none are as fine, as Maureen "Mo" Kessler. She has more qualities, certainly, than anyone I've ever met, because not only is she intelligent, not only is she a committed peace-and-justice personage, but she is also an incredibly talented and creative artist. It goes without saying she is a feminist and a very handsome woman. She'll be 28 next week.
     Mo's one failing, if she has any, is she doesn't communicate, at least not with me. I have no idea why she has gone from extreme affection to extreme antipathy as far as I am concerned. Why did she care about me so much to begin with? I have no idea. Why is she so hateful now? Don't ask me.
     I can repeat some of the things she said. But, I think, it's like a marriage. Two people are so in love they get married. They live together, have children. But when they divorce the hatred between them can overwhelm everything. Surely, the two extremes are connected?
     But, how?
     I feel unhappy that Mo suddenly now hates me. But I never had extreme feelings for her, and, now, I don't have anything against her. For example, I'm not speaking to her, if I'm not, because I blanch at the way she now looks at me. I feel this intense disgust and dislike, and it unnerves me. But I don't share it. However, the little I know and understand about Mo's character, I think I'm in for it. I have a strong belief that once you lose Mo's affection, it's gone forever. I mean forever.
 She don't like old white men to begin with! Mo has shared some pretty strong prejudices about old white men with me. I'm sure I'm now one of those worms.
Oh, boy! All this against a background of "Vagina Monologues" in our bookshop!
In my defense I offer only that Mo isn't thinking too good lately. She's burnt out.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 3, 2013


     Al has asked me to include our dinner party from last night in my Cat’s Journal. Normally, he’d put it in one of his other journals. Like Out Journal or the Glenwood Coffee & Books Journal.
     So, okay, never rest for the weary, yes, we did have a little dinner party last night. Pizza. Daniel and Lauren Goans. Al likes them, but I don’t know–I’m not sure they’re “cat people.” Not that it matters. Humans have got it into their heads that we cats don’t give a damn about them, so it’s good to keep it that way. The truth is of course that we worry like hell about them, incompetent fools that they are. Don’t know shit. Sigh.
     I lay over, “floppy do's,” I call it. They didn’t even notice. Lauren did see me up high on the Coke Refrigerator, where I like to perch. “Al,” she said in her pretty voice, kind of like a cat when you think about it, “I think Glenwood likes to be nearby you.” Well, duh, of course, I have to be nearby him, clumsy ass that he is, I have to keep an eye on him day and night, miserable sucker. You never know what trouble he’ll get into next!
     It took him all day to make the Pizza, set the table, polish the silver. I could have done the whole thing in half an hour! Fortunately, I don’t like Pizza (Tofu – can you believe it?!) . . . Because none was forthcoming. Humans are so rude, hardly ever offer to share. Oh, well, what’s new? I certainly don’t share my food, such as it is, either. In fact, come near to it, and I’ll scratch your eyes out.
     So I flopped over. And gave them a purr or two. Did they notice? Well, Lauren did, at least once or twice. Daniel too busy for a mere cat. Humpf! He’s kind of scruffy, in one of those “human” sorts of ways. Lauren had on a nice sweater-blouse. Very pretty. Nice fur, too, I mean hair. Of course Al’s bald. Of course, compared to cats, humans, you’ll have to forgive me, are ugly! Sorry about that, but cat’s aren’t sentimental, you know.

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29, 2013

My cat, Glenwood, has begun his own journal today. He's already written the PREFACE.
But this is his first entry.
What got him started was someone came into the bookshop and insulted him, saying,
"Doesn't that cat do anything but sleep!?" Glenwood got his dire up.
CAT’S JOURNAL: March 29, 2013
     It’s Good Friday. “Christ on the Cross” kind of thing. You’d never find a cat doing that. Anyway, it’s Friday. Friday’s begin with the usual human insanity, huge garbage trucks plowing up and down the Avenue (here it’s called Glenwood Avenue, the spinal tunnel for the neighborhood’s vehicles). Inhibiting to say the least. There’s only two things worse than a garbage truck: (1) the # 2 Bus that runs by the bookshop every half hour (ugh!); (2) fire engines (ugh, ugh).
     There was a fire here the other night. You probably don’t know it. Because you were asleep. Ahem! But was I? No. Had to put up with all that racket.
     Buildings they’re building on Lee Street burned down. Probably set on fire by a disgruntled neighbor. Wouldn’t find a cat doing that–this phrase will probably come up a lot in this journal, let’s create an acronym, WFACDT. You humans are far out.
     “Issue is” (I’ve been hanging around The Occupy Movement too long, I’ve begun to talk like those nuts) –anyway, the issue is the (ugh) university here, Un-Goo I call it [U.N.C.–G.]. Un-Goo has barreled into my neighborhood, Glenwood, and is starting their tenancy by tearing down all the buildings and trees and putting up new buildings, a police station, what they call a Park [more about that later] and a recreation center for the intellectual students to rest their weary minds, some 50,000 sq. ft. and thousands of cars.
     Of course they do this against the community’s wishes–TYWFACDT–so there’s a lot of anger. I mean a lot. Wouldn’t surprise me if some angry neighbor just burnt the place down!
     Newspaper says the fire may be arson and is being investigated by just about every local, state, and federal bureaucracy there is. Un-Goo’s own police are said to be investigating. Wouldn’t surprise me if they’re the ones who set it.
     You see, I have to go outdoors from time to time, to keep things neat and, well, cohesive. You wouldn’t understand. Which is why, of course, I have to write this journal for you all.
     I have to go outside, but then come these mammoth garbage trucks, it being Friday, Good or Not. And buses. And firemen tootin’ their sirens. Makes my fur stand on end. Yes, I’m fearless–and smart, too–but I ain’t no match for trucks and engines and buses that big! Scary, let me tell you.
     And right next door, a German Shepherd. Without a leash. Illegal that is. Until he gets run over, I have to keep a lookout for him. But there’s always a (ugh) Dog. You know that? You, too? Always a dog in the way?
     But us cats are used to dogs by now. Humans and dogs. The enemies of cats. Oh, I know, you
S e n t i m e n t a l i s t s think we cats love you, and you love us, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, and ten cents will get you a glass of milk these days. It’s like gardens. Yes, gardens. Gardeners are the enemies of gardens. Librarians are the enemies of books. And humans are the enemies of cats. The gardener, in his effort to help the garden, carries germs and disease everywhere, sprays water which causes black spot and mildew. The librarian rubber stamps the books, marks them up, sometimes punches them with punches, glues things all over them, writes in them, you name it. They hate books. Same with humans and cats. They want to help us, so they mess everything up. Just keep the kibbles flowin’, buster. That’s the only help I need. Thank you very much. To my mind, helpfulness is the sunny side of control, with you humans. WFACDT. All together, now, YWFACDT.
     Well, enough lecturing. I’m not being paid enough to set you all right. Couldn’t pay me enough. That would be a fulltime job and a half. I’ve got enough to do. Have to sleep all day, yeah, right!
     Let me tell you. When morning comes, I’m worn out. And if I take a brief nap, it’s only my due. While you guys are snoring away, there’s work to be done, man.  You just don’t know!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23, 2013

Today's Entry from Criminal Journal:

. . . illumed with the fatal
character and intelligent
actions of their lives
                     Allen Ginsberg

Nothing criminal to report! Nothing today that is. (It’s only 7 a.m. Stick around.) Lots criminal from the past. M– and I went to Edward McKay’s used bookshop, and I bought $50 worth of good, practically brand-new titles. You might say that’s criminal, since I promised Mo I wouldn’t buy any more books for awhile. But that was five months ago, and I’ve been hesitant to break that promise. Since I’ve shelved and alphabetized at least 5,000 of our current stock that was piled around and squashed into cartons, I feel I am re-acquainted with the stock and know what to buy to fill in some gaps.
     I treated M– to dinner at Ghassan’s. Ghassan’s is the cheapest restaurant in Greensboro. The whole thing, including tips cost me less than $15.00, and it only cost that because M– purchased a “Sprite.”  She didn’t look happy, but I didn’t take that personally.
     I intended to ask M– pointblank what was so criminal about wanting to hold her hand and put my arm around her, as we watched a movie. But at the beginning of our date, if you can call McKay’s+Ghassan’s a date, she looked so bitter, and by the end of our date, she looked so happy, I didn’t have the heart to bring up something sour.
     My rule for several years now is I don’t watch a movie with a woman without holding her hand or putting my arm around her. Consequently it’s been several years since I’ve watched a movie with anyone but men. This makes me a criminal?
     Lots of criminal activity from the past to report, but I intend this journal entry to be very brief. I’ll save some juicy stories for further down the road as we wordsmiths say.
     Anya off to New York for ten days. She’s braving the audition circuit, very ambitious of her. Nothing criminal about that. But. But Anya hasn’t been to see me for over a month. Nice emails. Excusing herself. She’s busy walking dogs and substitute teaching once a week. No time to visit Al. For at least three, probably four years, Anya has visited me for dinner, for a walk, for a visit once a week. This is the first month that’s gone by without such like, with the sole exception of her seven weeks blissing out at Omega Institute last summer. (She’s off to Buddhaville Omega again this summer. Nothing criminal about that on the face of it. But I wonder. Only kidding. Only kidding.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another Publishing Journal: March 21, 2013

This is not Cesare Pavese but Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937). Here is how Wikipedia writes up Gramsci:

Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer, philosopher, politician, political theorist, sociologist, and linguist. He was a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime.

Not just “imprisoned” Mr. Wikipedia but confined in prison for twenty years and then executed. The journals and letters Gramsci wrote in this confinement are some of the greatest documents of the 20th Century. I regret that the bookshop’s priceless 3-volume boxed mint set of Gramsci’s writings were one of the victims of our recent “sale.”

 This morning I can look over the first finished copies of my book
“obert Smithson.” I printed it yesterday, F & G (folded it and collated it, “fold & gather”) and sewed the signatures together. Further joining of the book’s five signatures is accomplished by gluing the sewn signatures together and pressing them overnight (in a bookpress I bought 45 years ago, from Gaylord Brothers.*
     Meanwhile, I had printed the covers. Since they’re “jet print” and color, and printed on coated card stock (C1S in the papertrade vernacular = coated one side) they have to dry a couple of days.
I also designed a way to reproduce the lengthy fold-out cover of Pan Smithson did on my commission in 1956, and I printed that, too, and glued it into my new book as a “paste-in fold-out”). This morning I get to open and read my book, its first copy off the press, a special moment. I am sending this first copy to Nancy Holt, Smithson’s widow, to whom my book is dedicated. I think Nancy would agree she and I were Bob’s first supporters and probably his most influential friends and comrades.
     In the same series as the Smithson Book, I have published a memoir I wrote and published on Dorothy Day. And I’m 50% done on the third volume in this series of memoirs of geniuses who influenced me lifelong: Thomas Merton. I intend three more books: Thich Nhat Hanh; Father Daniel Berrigan; Teo Savory.
*The Gaylord Brothers book press cost $12.50 then. It is exactly 10X that amount now, $125, an interesting example of the “value of the dollar” in my working lifetime.
 - 14 -

Sunday, March 17, 2013

CRIMINAL JOURNAL: March 17, 2013

‘Fess up, it’s Sunday, and in an hour, my Unitarian Universalist Covenant Fellowship will be meeting here at Glenwood Coffee & Books. Good to have “Confession” before the Unitarian Mass. (My ordained minister wife, Liz, says Unitarian Communion is . . . Coffee.)*
     Since this is a Criminal Journal, I might as well go ahead and confess my crimes.
     I gave up . . . Romance! . . . Two years ago. I was crazy about A– at the time, and I told her so in some indiscreet letters from Martha’s Vineyard (where I had no business being, although I wasn’t acting criminal. That everyone on Martha’s Vineyard is a one per center criminal is another story, houses there being in the 2-3 million dollar range.)
     A– wasn’t interested, of course, and I think I was only pursuing her out of habit. Same with E–. I wasn’t in love with those women. They were just young and pretty and available, so I went after them. I decided that since I was now a dignified 75 years of age, I had to stop doing that (fun as it was). And, surprisingly, I was successful.
     I remember a visit Oscar Zurer, an old friend from New York, paid me way back in the early 1980s. I was 50 then, and Oscar was recently retired at 65. He told me that the most surprising thing about growing old was he was hornier than ever and [he used a very rude word for fornication] _____ing like never before. I was surprised and shocked. But it’s true that The Old Adam doesn’t seem to be much different than The Young Adam.
     So I’m cruising along, happy in Neutral the past few years, thinking nothing of it. Not a single thing for a Criminal Journal to be concerned about. Enter M–.
     What was it about M– that would break the celibate priestly vows of a happy fella’ like I’ve become in my old age? Why is it a hundred people enter your life, and you’re as good as gold. Then, wham! This one catches your eye and tugs at your heartstrings?
     About three years ago, I was minding my business in the old premises of The Community Bookshop, before Andrew The Bad found my new 1310 Glenwood Avenue site. In comes this Guilford College underclasswoman and does some serious browsing. Happens irregularly. I think everyone likes a bookshop, but there are some people that really love bookshops. Obviously this young woman was one. There was something about her. I was really taken. Struck, you know? This was in my feisty days before my Vow of No Romance.
     What’s so strange is even in those Rough & Ready Days, very few
*Well, she ain’t my wife anymore. Her first sign of the Dementia that’s placed her on the Fourth (locked) Floor of the Woodhall Assisted Living Facility on High Point & Holden was divorcing me.

women moved me in that way. There had been K– whom I was crazy about for three years, then no one really, only two mild flirtations in the next few years (half-hearted interest in A– and
E–, whom I admit were movie star beautiful). M– wasn’t movie star beautiful. She was a quiet, serious “co-ed,” obviously well-brought-up, dressed conservatively . . . I have no idea why she, rather than a hundred others, just gave me that frisson.
     I chatted her up. Her nature is unnaturally quiet. Had an exquisite smile, somewhat shy and hesitant, but full-blooming once it got going. Yes, she was like a voluminous tropical flower. And she seemed to respond to my interest. She and I made a date for that weekend.
     But she never showed up. We had exchanged phone numbers and email contact info, but when she just never showed up with no communication of any kind . . . Well, to hell with it, I thought.
I was moving into my “No Romance” post-75 years anyway.
     Four years go by. I’m doing real well. Behaving myself. No Criminal Journal. Not a single miscue. Then M– walks into the bookshop again, the new one here on Glenwood Avenue. Yeah, about a month ago. And you know what? I felt the same way. I had behaved myself perfectly for a long time. I was through with Romance forever. That went out the window in one second.
     M– came in with an older friend, turned out to be her landlady. She had graduated. Didn’t look any different to me. Exactly the same. And I felt exactly the same. When she came into the bookshop a week later, I made a “date” with her. Sure enough she broke it. But, this time with her contact information, I made another date. She broke it less than an hour before she was due.
     Foolishly, I then made a real though casual “Saturday Night Date” for a movie and dinner at the bookshop. She changed it to a Monday Night, the one day of the week we’re closed. I warned her I had really poor taste in movies, didn’t like good movies at all, only liked “Romantic Comedies.” “Me, too,” she said. (She was just the same as ever, real quiet, spoke very little, very quietly.)
     This time she actually came. And, after I put the film on–Amy Irving in “Crossing Delancey Street”– I put my arm around her and held her hand. But she moved as far away from me as she could on the narrow futon in my room. Removed her hand, and when I asked if I could hold her hand, she gave me a look of disgust and pulled even further away. I thought, “Surely,  a Saturday Night Date, watching a movie, gives a fellow the right to put his arm around a girl and hold her hand?” Evidently not. So it comes down that I hit on her? Seems such an innocent thing to me. I wasn’t trying to seduce her. I was just hoping to hold her hand, like in the Beatles’ song. But here I am, outed into my own Criminal Journal!!