Category Archives: Clippings

Heavy Heart, Empty Heart

In 1963, back when it was still acceptable for poets to be openly, ferociously competitive, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s whorled Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan was still new and aesthetically suspect, the greatest poet of his day mounted the stage under Wright’s spiral ramp and inaugurated a reading series sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Robert Lowell, a tall, elegant man of letters from an old New England family, read his own work to the crowd and then introduced a friend, “an underground poet still digging.” On cue, a stooped, heavily bearded, intoxicated man approached the lectern, and, in a peculiar, strangled voice, explained why it was proper for a trick-or-treating tot to use an expletive to curse the chairman of the First National Bank who’d dropped a polished apple into his sack and broke his cookie.

American Outlaws

Hascia, a precocious biochemistry major (class of 1966) and the last person in world you’d ever expect to smuggle drugs, was about to tie the knot and settle down. Enter Barry, an extraordinarily gifted but roguish salesman and engineer who offered her an escape: come with me to Europe and never be bored (but beware, we’ll trample a few toes in the process). Together they left New York for Berlin, then Morocco, then a remote Spanish prison – a trip that would end up being the adventure of a lifetime.

 

 

Manhattan and the Mephistophelean Mind

I learned about the MONIAC in my high school marco-economics class: a.k.a. the Financephalograph or the Philips Hydraulic Computer, MONIAC was a massive machine, the size of two grandfather clocks bolted together, only instead of gears there was colored fluid inside, sluicing through tubes, pushing valves open and filling cisterns. Here, fluid was a metaphor for money, and by manipulating how much trickled through the system (pour in investments, drain out expenditures…) MONIAC could model Great Britain’s fiscal policy.

When the Rodeo Clowns Came

I live surrounded by retirees in rural Oklahoma. They are spry. They own arsenals of gardening equipment: lawnmower-tractor hybrids that grind through the fibrous local flora with cruel efficiency; they wield wicked contraptions, whirling motorized blades that allow withered men to sculpt hedges into forms of sublime and delectable complexity.