Archive for April, 2010

Crisis Counselors #3

April 27, 2010

Comes a Time

April 26, 2010

So I talked to the old man again. He called one night last week to bring me up to speed on the condition of his “estate”—and boy, did that not take a long time—before moving onto other subjects. Mainly, I was wondering about his health. In the first call he’d said he doesn’t have much time left, and I was still a little too dumbfounded to ask if it was a matter of mere feeling or based on an actual prognosis. Turns out that, though he does have emphysema, it’s more the former than the latter, but you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to know the clock is running when you’re 83, half-blind and tired as all hell. His talking about how dependent he is on others drove the point home, so I wasn’t shocked when he started talking openly of snuffing it after he concludes our business. (He actually asked the question “So what have I got to live for?” without it sounding like a plea for, well, anything—not even time.)

We talked some more about all that other jazz, and it was a chance to ask him some questions I’ve been harboring lo these many years, thanks in no small part to Mom’s propensity for spinning tales taller than Samuel Clemens’ eye. Liquor and insecurity are great fuel for loony tunes, and Mom was always embellishing stories—stories which often had a grain of truth—to make her or her kids stand out just a tad from the rest of the crowd. She delayed telling my sister and me that our father was illegitimate or adopted, which was the reasonable thing to do, even if it did make me think I was Jewish for the first nine or ten years of my life. One night, though, either because I was old enough or she was drunk enough, she finally disabused me of the notion, but not without immediately replacing it with a perfect blend of wish fulfillment and high camp. The new story went that my father’s actual parents had been the great alcoholic actor John Barrymore and a chorus-girl whom he’d knocked up; then, perhaps feeling the story still lacked a certain absurd pizzazz, Mom added that the go-between between the chorus girl and my foster grandparents was none other than Groucho Marx. She didn’t pass any of this off as fact, simply as a story she’d encountered at some pass—while reading Bulfinch, perhaps—but still, it’s nothing to dangle in front of children with already shaky identity issues. So that was one of the things I asked Dad about, and on the other end of the line I could hear him saying “Ahhhh…” in the tone people use when they’re shaking their head back and forth. All he knows is that Nanny and Pa—the Lithuanian Blocks, or Blockavitches, or whatever the hell we were called over there—took him home from the hospital and that his birth certificate listed the mother’s name as “Unknown”. According to him, though, my grandfather actually did know Groucho, and used to play cards with him. Talk about your gone worlds…

So there was stuff like that to go over, and there was also some catching up to do about my three half-brothers. Each of them was born to separate mothers, like Ben Cartwright’s sons, so they’ve always been scattered to hell and back. The oldest one is an insurance exec in New England; the one in line after me is a heroin addict and MIA; the youngest of all—Raul—apparently has his own ranch in Chihuahua state. (I did meet the junkie back in the ’80s, and he’s definitely the one who got Dad’s chick-magnet genes: while we sat at a table waiting for him to join us, he concentrated on his pinball game, totally ignoring both us and the cute young barmaid who stood entranced at his elbow.)


I wrote all that about ten days ago. Since then, well, shit’s been happening, plus my boss for some strange reason has been working my butt to the bone, leaving me hardly any time  to stare into space and chew over these weird remains.  The gears keep turning, though…

Anyway, I guess it was last Tuesday that I jumped on the elevator, heading downstairs for a smoke. It stopped on the sixth floor, though, and a woman got on—glasses, ponytail, attractive, with a couple creases at the corners of her mouth the only tip-off that she was anywhere close to my age. We were alone in the elevator, and she immediately started staring at me, first kind of slit-eyed, then with her mouth falling open as if to say, “Hey, dumbass, don’t you remember anything?” Finally she just asked outright, “Is your name Tom?” It was Laura, a woman I used to work with as paralegals; worked with, and dated, too, for a brief while back in the ’80s. She’s thinner than she was, and her hair’s a different color now, but it was her all right. She was one of the smarter women I ever went out with: she actually laughed at my damn Stalingrad jokes, and one morning in a North Beach diner, after eavesdropping on a quartet of 20-something dudes who were dropping their g’s at the next table, she whispered to me, “Listen—those guys are pretending to be stupid.” I haven’t seen her since ’87 or so (I don’t even remember exactly how it ended), but she told me she married some guy just a couple years later, and they’ve had three kids.

That was the night I happened to hunker down with a couple of Neil Young’s concert documentaries. The first one, 1979’s Rust Never Sleeps, is close to perfect as a musical experience, but it’s also the one where Young unwisely dressed his roadies as Jawas and had them bustle about onstage—in clogs—and slow-dance to “Like a Hurricane”. A disaster. Then I threw in Jonathan Demme’s Neil Young: Heart of Gold, which captured Young’s concert at the Ryman 3-4 years ago. I was still chewing over Laura telling me that her oldest son is 21 now. It was like, Jesus, forget how fast five years go by nowadays; we’ve hit the point where you run into an old friend and a whole life has transpired in the meantime. I couldn’t help but get a little masochistic and start toting it up like a scorecard. In the 23 years since I’d seen her, she’s been married, had someone waiting for her every night of her life, was busy with a career and raising kids and putting a home together, and all that time I was doing…What, exactly? When her first kid was turning 5, I was alone, dropping out of A.A., and starting to drink again. When he turned 10 I was futilely casting about for a change in my life—any change. When he turned 15 another relationship was falling apart and I was settling into what would be another half-decade of hardship and near solitude. And now here was Neil Young again, almost thirty years after Rust Never Sleeps. It was poignant enough to find him no longer the perfect convergence of face and voice and material he embodied my entire adult life, but rather a portlier, grayer, jowlier outline of that figure, a man incapable of hitting the high notes of his own songs any longer, and if I was 20 years old and seeing him for the first time, you’d be hard pressed to convince me that he once held out a world of riches. But he and his band were making their way through a lot of the old tunes as if none of that mattered, and the concert also marked the first public airing of material he wrote after the doctors found an aneurysm in his brain. Heart of Gold is brimming with Demme’s usual good sense and good taste, and with Young surrounded by a few close friends (including his wife) and running through a handful of songs frosty with the fleetingness of life, it works on you like a late Yeats poem.

At the moment, though, it just made me feel like Spinal Tap at Elvis’ grave—“Too much fucking perspective”—and somewhere in the middle of it I found myself  crying out “Aw, shit!”  to the empty livingroom. My original plan didn’t make a lick of sense to begin with, but listening to Young drove the fact home hard: What, I’m gonna wait until the old man croaks and then fly in, just in time to watch the estate liquidators cart away his old TVs? It’s past the point of being about who did what to whom or how anybody got hurt by it. At a high-water point of The Ambassadors, James says of his hero Lambert Strether, “That was the refinement of his supreme scruple—he wished so to leave what he had forfeited out of account. He wished not to do anything because he had missed something else, because he was sore or sorry or impoverished, because he was maltreated or desperate; he wished to do everything because he was lucid and quiet, just the same for himself on all essential points as he had ever been.” That’s advice any man can take to heart, and though I’ve spent most of my life pretty damn far from being either lucid or quiet, even I can see I need to visit him now just so I don’t spend the rest of my life wondering why I didn’t do it while I still had the chance.

So, the upshot, if not in a nutshell: I’m going to go spend a couple days with him next month, then fly on to Santa Fe and see my sister for the first time in 10 years. “Dad”—which is a strange damn word when you think about it—was almost giddy to hear the news, which was nice, but it also loosened that parental yakkiness gene that’s driven so many of my friends crazy over the years: now he’s hitting me with those “Something just occurred to me” calls, and even making one special call just to let me know that he managed to load my phone number into his speed-dial. Thank god we’re all going to be dead soon, that’s all I can say. I couldn’t begin to do this otherwise.

Three Kings & a Queen

April 14, 2010

Max Ophüls’ Caught (1949) takes all that stuff from ’30s movies about how thin the lines once were between working girls, wives, kept women, and prostitutes, and absolutely runs with it. It’s a spellbinder. It looks in on Barbara Bel Geddes, a mercurial mix of sincerity and unconscious but grasping ambition, just as she’s enrolling in charm school with the precise intention of snaring a rich husband. She gets her wish good and hard when she hooks up with Robert Ryan, playing a bitter, omnivorous effigy of Howard Hughes, who proposes to her only to make his shrink look bad. When Ryan stops paying attention to her—about five minutes after the ceremony—she takes up with James Mason, a nice-guy pediatrician with a practice in the slums, throwing Ryan into a rich and powerful snit-fit. It’s easy to guess who she’ll wind up with, but not how she’ll get there, or how nasty things will get before she does: this is a movie where the virtuous characters celebrate a miscarriage. It’s also worth checking out for Ryan’s performance as the seething, unreachable “Smith Ohlrig”. His barking, overdone angst hurt as many movies as it helped in the 1950s, but he put it all together in this one and just let that face do the talking. Ophuls’ famous camera moves are less grand here than in his European pictures but without being any more domesticated. Simple two-shots invisibly escalate  into sinuous figure-eights that wheel between and around the characters as we dissolve back and forth between their perspectives, and, in a troubled discussion about Bel Geddes between two of the male characters, the camera falls into a languorous back and forth between them that’d be ideal for a ping-pong match, but which slows with each pass over the chair where her character would normally be sitting. It’s a tender way of reminding us that the thing which all these men are arguing about is something more than empty air.

A few months back a friend on a forum, knocked out by just having seen Sweet Smell of Success, asked, “What other movies are there like that?”, and another friend answered,  “Remember in Ghost World when Steve Buscemi says ‘There are no other records like that’? Well, that’s how it is with Sweet Smell of Success.” Generally speaking that’s exactly damn correct, but if you put a gun to my head and insisted I cough up a title, the words “Robert Rossen’s Body and Soul” might well pop out of my mouth. It’s the only movie I know of that brings together enough of Sweet Smell’s elements, and in a classy enough way, to make it a worthy point of comparison. Both movies feature a menagerie of slithery, compromised creatures, each of them trying to outdo each other in unspeakable acts, set loose in the New York high-life, and captured in both cases by James Wong Howe’s high-contrast photography. But while they also share superficially rosy endings, Body and Soul’s has a crucial ambiguity that’s missing from our final view of J.J. Hunsecker’s sister crossing over to the sunny side of the street; smiling though he is, we can’t be sure that Rossen’s hero will make it to the next street corner alive. And if Abraham Polonsky’s dialog isn’t as memorably stinging as Odets and Lehman’s, it still comes plenty hard and fast, and without any of their forced zingers. (Polonsky, of course, would go on to direct exactly one film, the great Force of Evil, before being blacklisted. One has to believe that he made up half of the duo Billy Wilder had in mind when he issued his famous putdown of the Unfriendly Ten: “Of the ten, two had talent. The rest were just unfriendly”.) In form Body and Soul is just another one of Warner Brothers’ urban fables, this time built around that great boxing movie cliché, the fighter who crosses up the gamblers’ fix on the biggest bout of his life. (Has any such golden boy ever once existed?) John Garfield plays the Lower East Side kid who determines to take the quickest, straightest way out of the ghetto he can find. He’s surrounded by healthy influences but his patience have burned away like a fuse, and to get a title shot he delivers himself into the hands of a reptilian promoter-fixer who pours over him all the penthouse suites and sultry babes any American success story can handle. Howe shot the climactic bout on roller-skates, wielding a handheld camera; its newsreel look and whiplike rhythms would beat out Raging Bull by a third of a century. If I had to pick, I’d say Body and Soul is the better movie, too.


April 13, 2010

…Warner Brothers is finally releasing The Phenix City Story as part of a film noir box set on July 13. An expose of a real-life situationthe postwar takeover of an Alabama burg by a cracker-barrel mafiait’s no Great Film but a great American movie . It’s memorable for a lot of little things, such as its clued-in use of real Phenix City locals for its extras (it’s a movie about the South that actually looks like the South); it’s also got a bad guy who acts like a human water moccasin and an act of violence that’ll draw an authentic “Holy shit” out of you. B-meister Phil Karlson directed it; Jonathan Rosenbaum has an extended piece about it in his terrific Essential Cinema.

Now, here’s hoping that Columbia Tristar gets some stones and issues Karlson’s Gunman’s Walk, a Western that attacks racism, Manifest Destiny, and the American macho mindset in terms so thematically consonant with Fort Apache and The Searchers that it could serve as the third part of an unofficial trilogy with them. (The similarities are no coincidence: the scripts for all three movies came from the hand of one man, Frank S. Nugent.)

mother superior not jumping any guns

April 12, 2010

The Vatican forgives The Beatles. Weirdest line:

And last month the Vatican paper included “Revolver” in its semiserious list of top-10 albums.

So, great, the Vatican’s doing Letterman shtick now, either that or the list-making nerks have finally breached the Swiss Guard. I gotta say, though, the Revolver pick is unexpected and sort of sweet; it’s even more encouraging  than the Vatican forgiving George Harrison for his dissolute lifestyle.

Chapter Two: In Which My Mother Gets a Nose Job

April 9, 2010

This is normally a pretty pokey place—because, honestly, who can’t get enough of Tom Block gassing on about old Richard Conte movies?—so I was a little damn taken aback to see a 700% spike in my traffic the last couple days. One night I was sitting in a movie theater, waiting for the lights to go  down, and it was one of those times when, as the audience came trailing in and started picking out their seats,  the hum of anticipation was so palpable that it made you wonder just what it is about these  stories that keeps everyone coming back for more.  The old Coney Island entrepreneur  George C. Tilyou noticed that people will pay good money for the simple pleasure of watching other people having fun, but we enjoy watching them go through changes even more.  I don’t plan to avoid the subject of my family in the future, but I also don’t  want to hit the confessional buzzer just to goose my stats, and besides, without going into a lot of details that’d make everyone uncomfortable,  there’s no way I could top that post (or past) even if I wanted to. So officially, for now, let’s just say NO CHANGES, and see what the future brings.

Meanwhile, back in my other, digital life…

April 7, 2010

Saturday, by some weird fluke, I watched two movies whose plots hinged on the same twist. I much preferred An Education to Up in the Air, especially if I don’t think about Alfred Molina’s overacted, conveniently confused father in the former, or the prudish homiletics that kick in near its end. (The movie views the idea of taking time off before college, even if it means traveling the Continent and reveling in its culture, as some worrisome venture one might never safely return from, like a Turkish prison, or worse, the Beatnik life.) I liked it, though—it’s gorgeous, it’s rather cool as a period piece, Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan both kill, and its view of small-time gangsters is unorthodox if not totally convincing. I was a little thrown by seeing Cara Seymour already playing a mother role but it turned out to be an irresistible bit of casting; like Seymour, the corners of Mulligan’s mouth pull downward when she smiles. (I also see on IMDb that Mulligan’s slated to play Eliza Doolittle in a remake of My Fair Lady. That’s pretty far from being my favorite musical but this is clearly a thing that must happen.)

Up in the Air and Fantastic Mr. Fox are both cute, amusing and very, very slight. Up  in the Air in particular evaporated into guess-what before the credits were over, thanks largely to that plot twist. Why in the world one character would hide such information from another character while doing everything but beg that person to accidentally ruin their world is a question that only a Hollywood screenwriter can dodge.

John Cromwell’s 1950 Caged is a prison expose whose cynicism is almost as spectacular as I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang’s. The gorgeous, forgotten Eleanor Parker plays Marie Allen, a 19-year old girl tagged as an accessory after her husband dies while committing a robbery; the movie opens with a slowed-down, magnified look at the first day of her 15-year stretch, then widens to cover the whole of life in a dorm-style cell block. Caged bluntly shows how crooked pols and complacency create more criminals than the system can ever rehabilitate, and its allusions to lesbianism are reasonably knowing and sensitive. The story traces Marie’s transformation from mousy naïf to hard-hearted crook, a movement made a little less schematic by a terrific stroke of plotting: the butch boss of the cell block is slowly (and painfully) supplanted by a certified “vice queen” with mob connections, and Marie’s descent is considered complete when she switches allegiance from one woman to the other. Parker was nominated for an Oscar for Caged in a Best Actress field that included two woolly mammoths—Bette Davis, for All About Eve, and Gloria Swanson, for Sunset Blvd.—charging directly at each other. Presumably the two titans split their own vote; it’s otherwise impossible to understand how Judy Holliday wound up grabbing the gold, for Born Yesterday. No offense to Holliday, who’s totally fine in her cute little movie, but that’s a Dances with Wolves-beats-GoodFellas level of ha-ha.

Mad Love (aka The Hands of Orlac) is the movie which Pauline Kael pinpoints in “Raising Kane” as the source of certain touches in Citizen Kane—mainly, the chilly views of bald men and white cockatiels. The movie also served as the Joycean totem of guilt and impersonal vengeance that keeps catching Geoffrey Firmin’s eye in Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano. A concert pianist loses his hands in an accident; a mad surgeon, in love with the pianist’s wife, replaces the hands with those taken from a murderer who’s just been hung. Bummers ensue. Mad Love was directed by the legendary Karl Freund, and as “Doctor Gogol” Peter Lorre got one of his few chances after M. to really strut his stuff. Mad Love isn’t in that league, natch, but it’s closer to the spirit of German Expressionism than any of Universal’s more famous horror films from the ’30s.

Family Circus Circus

April 6, 2010

It’s been an interesting few days at Casa Blockhead. First, I got this swollen spot on my right cheek—nothing too Elephant Mannish, just kind of an extra ridge above the cheekbone—and after some tests and bloodwork my doctor told me last week that I have Hepatitis C. An ultrasound on the 16th will reveal the extent of liver damage, and depending on those results I’ll either have a maintainable problem or a big problem; the doc, for what it’s worth, sounds optimistic, saying I’d be showing more signs if I had advanced cirrhosis. The news means I’m almost certainly done with booze—the best-case scenario would be “one or two, every so often”. That’s less than a big deal, though—my drinking’s been nose-diving on its own for 2-3 years now. I still haven’t opened the bottles of scotch or Beaujolais I got last Christmas, and I really don’t miss any of drinking’s attendant bummers, especially the crippling-ass hangovers that gobble up half a sodding day. How I contracted the hep, though, that remains a mystery. Dr. Dave seems sure it was from some rather stupid behavior I indulged in circa 1978, and that might well be the case, but I’d swear on a stack of Tibetan Books of the Dead that I’ve tested negative since then. I can even hear some doctor telling me I was clear of hep—I just can’t put a name or place to the occasion.

Anyway—so there’s that.

Then, this last Sunday morning, I checked my mail and found a letter from my dad. We haven’t spoken since ’87, when he came out to visit for a couple days and we got into a booze-fueled argument over the way he was treating the wait staff in the various bars and restaurants we happened to hit that day. (It was in the middle of a freezing winter, and in one deserted bar he gave the bartender so much grief over the heat being out that when he asked, “Do you know somewhere warm we can go?”, the bartender shot back, “Try Hell.”) Communication blackouts lasting 23 years would be pretty weird in most father-son relationships, but in our case there was actually a precedent for it: we also went from 1961 to ‘83 without any contact. ’61 is when he ditched my family—told my mom he was going on a business trip and disappeared into the Chicago night, leaving her with an eight-year old daughter and six-year old son. “What if he had stayed?” turned out to be the great what-if of our lives. But he didn’t, of course, and because he didn’t, we were all in for a very long and fantastically fucked up ride.

That ride got infinitely trickier in ’83. I was in Houston, where I’d been working for Shell Oil, and hating it, for a few years, when Shell announced a layoff program. They were suddenly willing to pay me $10,000 to get out of their face, a dream situation ranking even higher on my wish-list than a world of universal brotherhood, and I immediately started making plans to move to San Francisco. A major snag was that I was going to have to tell my family (also in Houston) that I was leaving, and I’d pretty much cut off contact with them a couple years earlier. My mom, who was fairly heroic in the early years after Dad’s departure, transferred more and more of her bitterness onto my sister and me as we got older. She couldn’t separate her kids growing up and leaving the nest from her husband having abandoned her—to her they were just different forms of desertion. She was a funny and well-read woman, and our house was always filled with smart, productive people, and for a few years in the mid ’60s she held a deeply gratifying job as a community organizer in LBJ’s poverty program, but none of it could ease the pain of what that sonofabitch did to her in 1961. Everything was personal to her (she nursed childhood grudges against her siblings to the end of her life), plus she’d been a lush forever, so as she got older she grew angrier and angrier, more histrionic and destructive. She pored over books like Eric Berne’s Games People Play, not for self-awareness, but for tips, the way West Point cadets study the tactics of Sun Tzu, and to salve her ego she employed gambits so emotionally monstrous that Tennessee Williams would’ve been stunned by them. The manipulation and the constant drama ultimately  grew too much for me; the guilt of cutting off one’s own mother had become easier to deal with than the pain of going through life with her.

But just as I was plotting out how best to drop the news that I was moving to a far-off city, and getting away for good, word came through that she was dying of lung cancer. (Salem cigarettes, three packs a day.) You’d think that that would’ve provided fun enough for good ol’ God, but no, He was just getting started. About ten days later my phone rang, and it was my sister calling to say she’d just gotten an interesting call—from our father. It was the first we’d heard from him since John-John Kennedy was crawling around the Oval Office. He was in bad shape: flat broke, both arms broken (from maybe a fall, maybe a beating), sleeping in Vegas hotel lobbies, and down to the last tooth or two in his mouth. Sis was sending him a one-way ticket to Houston and offered to put him up until he could get back on his feet. Thinking about it now, his arrival let escape town unscathed; with that circus going on, no one noticed me slipping out the back flap of the tent. I got away to San Francisco while he spent the last few months of ’83 trying to make things up to my mom. There was an initial reunion between them, and after that a series of visits where, if I understand right, they sat and talked about everything under the sun—even joked together. He managed her finances while my sister dealt with the live-in nurse, and together they ran her household.

In early April of ’84 he called and said that it was time to make my goodbyes to her. I was booked to fly back on a Friday, and on the Thursday night before the phone rang—it was Mom. Her voice was a dim velvety rasp in between gasps for air. She said a lot of nice, conciliatory things which a day or two later I’d understand were actually veiled goodbyes, but I wasn’t thinking that way at the time, so I just kept saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow, I’ll see you tomorrow.” After we hung up, she waited until the nurse left the room, then somehow made it out of bed to where the morphine was sitting. When the nurse returned, she was already curled up on the floor, and she died while my plane was in the air the next day.

I’ll skip the memorial service, and I’ll also skip the visit to Houston a year later, by which time Dad had magically moved into a new condo, bought a new car, and gotten new dentures, all by selling rare coins for a company operating out of a grimy little storefront. (His knack for finding money has always lagged one crucial step behind his talent for losing it.) That was also the trip where I met my younger half-brother—another mess, resulting from yet another busted marriage. In ’87 my pop came out to San Francisco with a “Doris” type—a big-haired, aging floozy; he installed her in a motel room, then took me out to get drunk. Then we’d had that fight, and the silence, until last Sunday.

This new letter—it only runs a few typed lines—merely says that he’s been searching for me and that he has “a number of things” he wants to talk about, and scrawled at the bottom in some giant, shaky handwriting is his phone number. A pre-printed line at the top asks the reader to excuse any spelling errors since he’s suffering from macular degeneration, and indeed the last line reads: “P.S.S. Please Sall.” I actually did an Internet search for him a couple years ago, and found a listing for someone with his name in Arizona. I’d figured it might be him (and it was), but I could never pull the trigger and call him. On the one hand I felt like whatever was done was done, and there was no reason to reopen such a miserable can of worms, while another voice kept whispering in my head that he’s, you know, my fucking father, and we aren’t going to be around forever, and how am I going to feel if I let this last chance go by without even trying to talk to him?

It took him a while but he made up my mind for me with that letter. I spent a couple of hours reading and rereading it, and playing my World War II videogame and staring blankly at the TV, while I tried to Zen it all out. He picked up on the second ring when I finally dialed the number. He sounds strong and lucid; more importantly—to me, anyway—he sounds like he finally gets it. Where he’d always dodged the subject of his deserting the family, he brought it up himself this time, and said he’d spent a lot of time thinking about the question I asked him in ’87: “Why’d you do it?” The answer he gave me goes back to his own upbringing—he was adopted and raised in the Bronx by a pair of Lithuanian Jews, a wonderful man who, sadly, worked far too many hours and a loveless woman who was no day in the park even when I knew her. The specifics of his answer mattered less than the fact that he’d remembered and thought about my question; whenever I’d raised the subject before, he’d only discuss it in vague theoretical terms, as if everything that happened back then was so hazy and penumbral that mere language could never serve to unlock its mystery. We blathered on for a bit about various topics—he likes Obama, for one thing, which is almost more shocking than his thinking about the past—before I finally asked him what he had on his mind.

It was what you imagine. He’s 83, practically blind, and hasn’t got much time left, or at least he thinks he hasn’t. He wants to settle his estate and, incidentally, make whatever amends he can in the process. He doesn’t have much—a few thousand bucks in Social Security payments, an apartment that sounds loaded with old TVs. I told him like an automaton that, yes, I’d take care of it; I still don’t know what other answer I could give. The only thing left to say to him now  is: “It’s all right, Dad.” I’m ready to say most anything else, but that one’s just stuck in my throat. At least, from the sound of things, I don’t have to figure it out tonight. We still have some soldiering on to do.

Quiet: Genius at Work

April 2, 2010

Because when you get right down to it, why the hell not?

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