Tag Archives: Traveling

Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Prague: Refugees Welcome (Part 2)

11 May

So where did we leave off?

Oh that’s right, the train ride back to Berlin.

While we were there we went grave hunting cause that’s what we do and came across these two:


Yes indeed those are the Brothers Grimm, librarian/fairy tale collector extraordinaires.

And because we love all things Bowie, Jay found where he lived:


And hung out:


and recorded Low and Heroes and produced The Idiot for Iggy Pop


We also went to Bableplatz – the site of the infamous Nazi book burning in 1933


Now, Bableplatz has a makeshift library complete with comfy bean bag reading chairs



And a memorial to the Empty Library which includes a glass cut square below the platz that depicts empty shelves. The Nazi’s burned around 20,000 books, including books by Heinrich Mann, Karl Marx and Albert Einstein.



At the Neue Wache up on Museum Island we found this chilling memorial by Käthe Kollwitz  entitled Mother with her Dead Son. The memorial includes the remains of an unknown soldier and a nameless concentration camp victim.


My birthday, May 1st is also May Day in Europe – a massive spring celebration. In Berlin it’s also a time of protest. We had heard about how great Kreuzberg  was and the day before my birthday headed out there to see the East Side Gallery (a long segment of the graffiti wall) and have the most amazing burger at Kreuzburger (seriously if you’re ever there you have to try this place). So we figured for my birthday we’d head back that way.

This was our first mistake.

Kreuzberg (surprise!) is also home to some of the most famous and violent police and demonstrator clashes on May Day. As the elevated subway pulled into the neighborhood, there were THRONGS of people. And by throngs I mean thousands and thousands of people. We could barely get out of the subway station, which the police were blocking to prevent overcrowding on the platform (I think). The crowds had a penchant for 90’s rap. I’m not kidding. We heard Snoop Doggy Dog.

The feeling was intense, electric. Standing amongst them, aside from feeling incredible old, I couldn’t help but realize that this is what political activism can look like. That after Nazism and Communism Berlin is still making herself over and it’s being done by the young people. It’s vital.

I would love to see how this city is going to transform itself over the next 25 years.

I didn’t shoot this film but it is from May Day, 2015 in Kreuzberg.

From Berlin, we took the train south to Leipzig.


Bizarre sculpture depicting life under Nazism and then Communism.

Leipzig is Bach-land. Bach lived and worked in Leipzig, raising a considerable family and caring for the choirboys at St. Thomas Church where he was Kappelmeister. He’s buried inside the church.



But Bach isn’t the only game in town. There is also an extensively done Felix Mendelssohn Museum:


which included his DEATH MASK!


After he died, Wagner being a massive anti-Semite started trash talking Felix. The idea that he was a lesser composer took root and by the time the Nazi’s were in power, Felix was all but wiped off the books. The statue that had been erected for him was melted down. It took until 2008 for a replacement to be erected.


And the morning that we were scheduled to leave Leipzig for Prague (and then from Prague back to Berlin to fly to NYC) the Germans decided to have a major transit strike, thereby shutting down the Deutsche Bahn for 10 days. Which meant if we went to Prague we could feasibly not have a way back to Berlin to fly home.

So naturally we went to Prague.

Part 3 coming up next…..

Peace love and Starbursts,


Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Prague: Refugees Welcome (Part 1)

11 May

Brandenburg Gate: Berlin 2015

Berlin is the kind of city that doesn’t give a shit if you like her or not. I suppose that’s what happens when your city is blown to smithereens and then walled up for 30 years. And that’s not to say it isn’t pretty…because it is – some of it at least.

It’s more so that Berlin isn’t there to impress you. It is what it is. And more than anything Berlin is full of history. We were there for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. At one point there were bands of Russians parading around the gate, waving a Russian flag and celebrating. It was strange.

Down the road from the Gate is the Holocaust Memorial (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) A series of stone slabs arranged in rows, varying in height and covering 4.7 acres. Unlike most memorials, there is no visible list of the dead, no dates to mark the atrocities. (Though that is available in the attached underground section). Instead as, you walk through the memorial, the slabs grow, eventually blocking out the street noise and sights, until you feel like you’ve completely disappeared inside the “tombs.”



I think the most effective part of the memorial for me is the way it uses abstraction to imply universality.

Throughout Berlin, you can find pieces of Die Mauer, the infamous Berlin Wall, which divided the city into four separate sectors run by the Americans, The French, the British and the Russians. If you paid attention in history class you learned that the Russians, aware of their dwindling population (many East Berliners “voted with their feet” prior to the wall and left their sector for the Western side), built a wall that cut through homes, streets, subway lines, churches, graveyards and families with stunning and fierce finality.

I remember watching the wall come down on television in 1989. Iconic images of teenagers standing on top, sledgehammers swinging. I recognized their youth, their anger, their intention even if I didn’t understand what their experience at the time was like.


I was 12 years old. Even then I understood revolution. What I didn’t understand was The Wall. To me, it was just a slab of concrete, something that if you could climb, you could escape. It wasn’t until I was standing at Bernauer Strausse that I fully understood that The Wall was two walls, and a death strip.



136 people died trying to cross the Berlin Wall – mostly men, in their twenties during the 60’s. So when you stand at the East Side Gallery admiring the graffiti, and there is much to admire, you’re looking at 1/3 of the barrier that the people who risked their lives trying to cross were faced with.




In case it wasn’t obvious, The Wall had a very powerful effect on me. Thinking about it in terms of my own life, what would it be like if suddenly I was no longer allowed to leave Brooklyn? If Manhattan was just a distant memory?


Checkpoint Charlie


From Berlin, we took a train to Hamburg, Germany, chasing after the Beatles….

The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany 1960 - hundreds more Beatle pictures www.morethings.com

“I was born in Liverpool – but I grew up in Hamburg” – John Lennon

The Beatles (back then as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe) spent from August of 1960 to December of 1962 in Hamburg, Germany where they played a variety of clubs, honed their skills and really became the musicians that would change music.


The Reeperbahn

They played the Kaiserkeller:


The Indra:


(Here’s the contract that they signed with Bruno Koshcmider to perform at the Indra:)


They also played at the Top Ten (which has sadly been turned into a Pizza Hut) and The Star Club:


While they were there they met Astrid Kirchner, with whom Stu Sutcliffe fell in love.


Stu dropped out of the band, applied for art school in Hamburg and had hoped to settle down into a life of painting and photography with Astrid. They lived together at Eimsbuttler Strausse 45A:


The attic windows were Stu’s studio, and where he collapsed on April 10, 1962. Astrid rode with him to the hospital but he passed away before they got there.

While we were there we had drinks at Gretel and Alfons, a place the Beatles used to drink at, and where they have a note from Paul McCartney when he returned to Hamburg and paid his bill back in 1989.


Hamburg paid tribute to the Beatles and created BeatlesPlatz, where four steel outlined musicians were erected.


Off to the right, is this one, representing Stu.


And we found The Dom, the fete field that Astrid used as a backdrop for the iconic images she took of the Beatles.


One of the best things about Hamburg is that we could recreate THIS:




Aside from The Beatles, Hamburg is a pretty little German town with a really big church that has a whole lot of steps (453) that if you are stupid enough to walk to the top of you can get a picture like this:


Then, we headed back to Berlin….which we’ll pick up in Part II of the longest blog post ever…


Peace love and starbursts,


Greetings from Niflheim!*

25 Feb

That about sums up my opinion on winter these days. We used to be buddies. Not so much anymore.

I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a spring as much as I am looking forward to this one.

So in other news, I’m still alive and well and managing and all that fun stuff post-everything. And I’m still hearing from people who have either read the cancer blog or something stupid I said on twitter and who contacted me about it. I think that’s really great because the whole point of writing what I did, and you know, LIFE is to make connections with other people. To say: this looks like that. I feel like you. You’re like me.


I’ve been writing a lot lately. Still working on Palimpsest, the scifi novel that might kill me first, and that’s going well. I almost want to say really well but I don’t want to jinx it so mums the word on P——–t.

Mums, I tell you.

I have also been working on poems which has been good cause the part of my brain that writes fiction and the part of my brain that writes poetry are not the same part. My poetry part has been snoring like a log for the last few months. It’s good to see it still works (after large quantities of tea, begging and bribery, that is).

Some people go to support groups or talk to psychologists. I write poems and share them with strangers on the internet. Po-tae-to, Po-tah-to. Connection is a powerful coping tool.

Here’s a few that were lucky enough to find a home in this world. I am eternally grateful to all the editors who took these poems and helped share them. (See above about that whole connections thing.)

After Diagnosis, Chemo and Dog-Eared are all here at The Blue Hour.

Exam Table Paper is here at The Commonline Journal

Ten Years Later, Allyson Stop It and And Yet are here at Dead Snakes.

It feels good to get these guys out there. Like I’m folding up the fear and anxiety into little origami sailboats and setting them adrift into the world. I feel better without them. Lighter. I was writing in my journal the other day about February feeling like the first “normal-ish” month I’ve had since diagnosis. Not like normal-normal, because I still don’t get through a day without thinking about it but normal enough, I guess. Cancer isn’t my first though out of bed and it isn’t my last at the end of the day. It usually shows up somewhere in the middle. And I’ve had more good days than bad (by a lot). More good days than sad days. More good days then I Hate The Universe Why Is This My Life What Did I Ever Do To You days. And I’m working hard on not kicking myself when I do throw little tiny pity parties. It happens. *Toots Party Horn*

And finally, I have a trip coming up.

It will involve lots of these:


That’s all I’m saying.**

But before I go I just wanted to mention Zoe Keating. I’ve mentioned Zoe on here before telling you how you should really go buy her album for six little dollars on her website. It’s worth about ten times that in my opinion. Last May, Zoe’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. Pretty much everywhere – brain, lungs, bones, liver. After a brave fight, he passed away at home on February 19th.

Zoe is a working artist that I have the utmost respect for. I’ve never met her. I just think she puts something beautiful into the world. And right now, she’s lost the most beautiful thing she had. As a stranger on the internet I can’t really do much except for share her music and encourage you, my friends, to listen.

This is Escape Artist. I would consider it a feat of incredible emotional strength if you could listen all the way through and not be moved. Also, that means you’re probably a robot. Good luck with that.

You can download her album here. $6.00 for beautiful art.

In the meantime, make something beautiful for yourself. And be nice to each other

Peace, Love and Starbursts,


*For those of you curious, Niflheim is a cold mythological place in Nordic stories. It’s also called New York City.

**No lectures allowed on alcohol and recurrence rates. Trust me I read all the literature. Life requires a little risk. It’s called LIVING.

The Forked Road

13 May

Hi All

So I was invited to join The Forked Road by a friend of mine, Aleathia Drehmer.

Aleathia’s a major player in the writing scene so I jumped at the chance to participate.

It’s a very relaxed premise – each day has a different theme and you post when you want to. Got something to say – write it and post it. In Aleathia’s words – the week runs down like this:

Monday-Music Monday—this can be your current favorite song, a write up about your favorite band, a recent concert you have seen, “mixed tapes” you have made, or a great video.  If it involves music, put it here.  Add photos, links, whatever.


Tuesday-Let’s Go Somewhere—this the travel portion of the blog.  Write about local places, faraway places, museums, tourist attractions, festivals.  It is anything you can leave your house to do!


Wednesday-Lit Bits—this is where you showcase favorite books from established writers.  You can do critique, put quotes, review a favorite author.  You can write about literary events as well.


Thursday-Foodies—if you are a great cook you can list favorite recipes.  Restaurant reviews, great food carts, trends in cuisine that you enjoy or review good cook books.  You can share grannies best cookie recipe!


Friday-Art Bomb—post about artists that you like, local gallery showings, interview an artist, speak about documentaries of great artists.


Saturday-Quills and Frills—this is for sharing our own writing or the writing of other small press writers.  Once a month there will be a writing prompt in which we will each write something and post our interpretations.  I will be sure to share that with you at the beginning of the month so there is time to write it to post at the end of the month.


Sunday-OM—this is a section on spirituality.  I am a Buddhist but you can share whatever faith you have.  I’m not saying we are getting all holy roller up in here, but if you have credos you live by that you want to share, feel free.


Great concept, huh?

So yesterday, I managed to get over my crippling self-doubt and finish THIS IS SARAH and send it off to my editor. Achievement: Unlocked.

This morning I read through a story I had started last week and realized with absolute certainty that it’s a total piece of crap.

So instead I decided to write my first piece for The Forked Road.

It’s about my recent trip to Liverpool where I got to see John Lennon’s House. Afterwards Aleathia talks about her trip to Bristol.

I think this is going to be loads of fun.

Peace, love and Starbursts


London Liverpool LONG Recap

18 Apr

Oy, mates.

So I’m back from my recent trip to London and Liverpool which was amazing. In fact, I dare say it will be a tough trip to beat. I just love London. My mother keeps insisting that I move there so she can have a reason to come visit me. We’ll just pretend that my mother didn’t tell me to move to the other side of the ocean (Just kidding, Dish. I love you!).

So first off – LONDON.


Trafalgar Square

This was our second trip to this fantastic city. I loved it the first time but this time, I really got to know it. Like walk around without a map sort of know it. And if any of you have been to London with it’s bazillions little no name streets (come on London, that’s why we build grids in NYC and use numbers. Easy Squeazy Lemon Peazy).

So here’s some places we went:

St. Martin in the Fields

That’s St. Martin in the Fields. I’m a big classical music fan and back at home on WQXR I occasionally get to hear performances done in St. Martin in the Fields and I finally got to go to one! They’ve been hosting these FREE concerts for 75 years (did I mention they were free, cause they are. Though they’ve got a donation box, and honestly, what’s wrong with you? Donate a little). They did a variety of pieces by Handel including a stunning soloist  and a trumpeter who placed a Baroque trumpet (no spit valve so watch the floor!).

Hey wanna know something cool I learned about the lions in Trafalgar Square – the sculptor who made them had never seen a lion so he modeled the feet after his dog instead.



And of course we say this:


And we went here:



Where we saw this:


and he did this:



And I did this:


And we also went here:

Charles Dickens House and Museum

Charles Dickens House and Museum


where we saw this:

Charles Dicken's writing desk

Charles Dicken’s writing desk

I know it’s kind of blurry cause you couldn’t have the flash on but that is Charles Dicken’s writing desk. He wrote Oliver Twist in this room, on that desk. Seriously *MindBlown*

And we went here:


But only “real” explorers get to go inside. Whatever that means.

But they did have this:


Which was cool but nearly as cool as this:

Robert Falcon Scott Monument

Robert Falcon Scott Monument



And in case you didn’t know how much I love Robert Falcon Scott, proof.

We also went to lots of writers homes and musicians homes but I’m saving that for a new blog that I’m creating for fellow travelers. But I will say we did see the rooftop where Elton John wrote Your Song, some Rolling Stones homes, David Bowie’s apt and where he took the picture for Ziggy Stardust.

Okay that one I’ll show you

It was here:


And now it’s this:


But you remember it like this:


Where were we?

Oh yes, museums! All the museums in London are free which is such a fantastic way to promote and foster the arts (I’m looking at you, NYC).

It was like ART OVERLOAD but here are some highlights:

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

'The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

‘The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers


We also went to the Handel house (it was a very Handel themed trip apparently)


which happened to be right next door to this:


The Handel house was great, and one of the best things about it is that on the ground floor they have a small rehearsal area that musicians can book and we were lucky enough to be there when people were practicing which really brought the whole thing to life.

We also did a Jack the Ripper walking tour of the East End, which was cool because the first time we went to London we didn’t get past the Tower Bridge and I really wanted to go to WhiteChapel.

You can still find the actual spot where Jack the Ripper killed his victims on the street:




It’s even creepier if you picture 1888 gaslight London

Also, the East End has some fantastic graffiti:



And no trip to London would be complete with a walk over the Tower Bridge



To Southwark to see the Globe


have some pie at Manzees


Seriously, this stuff is amazing. Look every pub in London sells meat pies. And all the meat pies are good. I mean, how could it not be good. It’s a pie….full of meat…..with mashed potatoes on the side. But what happens at Manzee is MAGICAL. It’s worth the visit down Tower Bridge Road.

And finally, because you all know how obsessed I am with Doctor Who we walked all the way across London to find this:


Look at it! A TARDIS just sitting outside the Earl’s Court Tube Station.

I died.

Seriously. DIED.

Can you see how happy I am? Cause I’m so happy. Happy and dead.



And then there’s still LIVERPOOL. You know what’s great about Liverpool? Everyone sounds like George Harrison. Seriously!

We saw the Cavern Club, which to be honest was sort of a disappointment.



It’s not the original – that was torn down even though the bloody Beatles played something like 250 shows there. So they built this one a little down the way from where it was. Jay does a better job of explaining what it was like so I’ll let him talk for a change.

But they do have this outside which was pretty cool



We stopped off at a couple of John and Stu Sutcliff’s favorite pubs

First Ye Cracke (insert snickering here)


See, proof

John Lennon at Ye Cracke

John Lennon at Ye Cracke


And also The Phil


mmmmm ciders!


And of course we went to Mendips, John’s childhood home.



To see John and Paul’s place you have to buy tickets for the National Trust tour. That’s the only way you can get inside and honestly, being inside is the whole point. Standing in John Lennon’s tiny (so tiny) bedroom was surreal. I thought about him, with his feet up on the wall, coming up with the words to Hello Little Girl. As he told Yoko when he took her by, “There it is Yoko. That’s where I did all my dreaming.”

In the back was were the trees that overlooked Strawberry Fields….”No one I think is in my tree….”

The guide told great stories about Mimi, a stern but good woman who raised John from the age of 5.

Afterwards we went back on the bus and headed down to 20 Forthlin Road, Paul McCartney’s home


It was an council house – which is a form of public housing built for working class families. They were rented not owned. Mimi, John’s aunt, didn’t think much of people who lived in council houses, but she liked Paul because he spoke ‘proper English’ and didn’t sound like a Scouser (Liverpool accent – basically what George sounds like).  Their carpets were sewn together from scraps of other carpets, one big patchwork and the walls were lined in mismatched wall paper. The walls are also covered in pictures that Mike, Paul’s older brother took of ‘Our Kid’ (his nickname of Paul).

This is Paul and Mike with his mother Mary who died when the boys were young. In fact after John lost his mother, Julia, in a car accident he bonded with Paul as they were both now motherless. Paul wrote Let it Be for his mother.


And one of my other favorites ones, of Paul climbing the drainpipe outside. He used to do that as a kid when his father locked him out for missing dinner.


And here he is with John…working out I Saw Her Standing There in his living room, where they would practice when they cut school.



I stood right next to that fireplace.


Okay I’m getting carried away and there’s still a lot to cover.

We also found George and Ringo’s place during an epic trip through the suburbs of Liverpool that I wrote about here and that I’ll go into more depth about on the new travel blog I’m going to keep.

But here’s George’s place.


This one is special for me. Not just cause it’s George and I adore him (if I’m FORCED to pick a favorite, it’s George) and not just cause the people who live there don’t like people coming around to take pictures but because this is the first house we found after being told it was IMPOSSIBLE. We were told by shop clerks and tour guides not to bother. Take a taxi tour, they said. Get on the Magical Mystery Bus. As soon as they told me I couldn’t find it was the moment I knew I would. I’m stubborn like that. With our day bus pass in hand we found our way all over Liverpool.

To Penny Lane:


To Strawberry Fields:


To the churchyard where the QuarryMen played their first show



Which if you look closely has this:


This particular gem was shown to us by a small Chinese couple that spoke broken English. As soon as we walked in the graveyard they beckoned us over and pointed it out and then he mimicked John Lennon playing his guitar.

Then across the street to the place where John and Paul met.



Where they hung this:


Pete Shotton: “Hey Paul, John wants to know if you want to join the group.” Paul: “Okay” *rides off on his bike*


And then to Julia’s house, where for a small precious period of time, John had her back in his life. Not as a mother but as a friend. Julia taught John to play the guitar. John referenced Julia in quite a few songs, but most famously in Julia, which also has references to Yoko Ono. (Ono in Japanese means child of the sea)


And then finally to the Dingle, where Ringo was born

It was a craphole then and it’s a craphole now. Such a craphole that I made us leave early when I thought I heard voices behind the shuttered and boarded up windows and feared being robbed by squatters. I’m such an idiot.


And then of course there was Stu Sutcliffe.



Stu was the Fifth Beatle, a best friend of John’s, an amazing painter and unfortunately a pretty crappy bass player.

Stu left the band to study painting, his true passion, in Germany with his girlfriend Astrid Kirchner. Astrid not only took some of the most iconic pictures of the Beatles, but she was the reason they got their Beatle haircut. Tragically Stu died at the age of 21 from what is believed to have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

When he and John were in art school together, they lived on Gambier Terrace, in this loft.


Stu is buried in Liverpool and finding his grave was one of the few things we didn’t get to.

But we did go into the Walker Art Gallery and found his art. I can’t help but think Stu would have appreciated us picking his art over his old bones.


Hamburg 2

It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

I think he would have been an incredible force in the art world.


So I think that’s about it. I had the best time with this guy:


Everyone should be so lucky to have a traveling buddy like this.

So Cheers!


And Goodbye England!



Peace, Love and Starbursts,


P.S…..Trish the Dish and Big Ron (ie. Mom and Dad) the backpacks were AMAZING. I never knew I could carry that much crap on my back. You’re the bestest.



Get On the Magic Bus

15 Apr

Get On the Magic Bus

The guy at the trinket shop where I buy my George Harrison pin
is telling the other customer not to bother.
Just do the National Trust tour, he says.
Just go see John’s house and Paul’s house and forget the rest.
Beside he says, the Dingle is a real shithole.
The guy shrugs, folds up his map and pushes open the door
to join the rest of the tourists in Liverpool.

This is the moment I make my decision.
When we ask about a better map,
the guy at the counter tell us there are really
good taxi tours.
You can take a tour, he says, not have to worry.
Besides, it’s too hard on your own.
I know a guy, he tells me, drives one of those cabs,
he knows more about the Beatles than anyone.

I nod, thank him for the water and leave.
We find out about a transit pass.
We mark up the only map we have.
It is paper and vulnerable to rain.
We are not mobile wireless 4G.
We are 3D bodies with handwritten directions
and blisters and sore backs like explorers.

It’s two miles to the first home.
We tie our shoes tight.

When people look at my pictures they shrug.
It’s just a bunch of old houses.
What did you do on vacation, they ask?
They stress the word “do”

I don’t get on the tour bus.
And it’s not a vacation. It’s a trip. There’s a difference.

I want to tell them this but I don’t.
They wouldn’t understand.
When I tried to explain
that finding these people is a kinship
a thing that ties me to the past
to the art that I need.
They shrug and say, I guess, if you’re into that sort of thing.
They don’t see the point.
They ask if I went to see any West End shows.
If I went on the London Eye.
They want better pictures.

I hold the map. We head down Beech Street to Wavertree Road.
He takes the pictures.
By the time we get to Arnold Grove,
where George was born it is raining.
The people that live there
don’t want us around.
We keep our distance on the narrow streets.
We need to see it. We need to know it’s real,
the way we did with the other houses,
the other graves.

We snap just one picture before turning back the way we came.
In the distance, is the Magical Mystery Tour Bus.
It will never fit up those narrow streets.
I wonder what the view is like from up there,
watching a city stream by,
never really seeing it. Never walking its streets
or talking to its people.
He waves to the people in the high seats as the bus passes us.
He tells me, we don’t get on buses.
I nod. It is a pact that we have.
I take out the map.
He takes another picture.

Get me to Penny Lane, he says.
And I do.

There is a reverence to what we do,
to this walk. It is in honor.
It is a thank you for everything we have been given.
A god can be anything that shows up,
just when you need it.
With this map in my hand, this is how I pray.


Things and other things about things…with a video

4 Mar


Hi all.

First off that blob up there is me being a goofball and creating a word cloud out of Palimpsest, the sci fi book I’m in the final death throes of revising.

Word clouds are cool.

Other things that are cool are poems published by Stephen over at Dead Snakes. It took a long time for Summer Lake, Late Nineties to find a home so I’m glad it happened. You can read all three here.

And in other cool news, I got my first book of poems, entitled The Wanting Bone by Six Gallery Press reviewed. I’m completely flattered by all the nice words that Poetry Hound had to say.

You can read it here.

And in the best news of all, my buddy Oscar Varona got a story published. He and his girlfriend Aida are my two favorite artists/ people/humans that don’t live in the US (damn them!). You should read it especially if you like weirdness and Samuel Beckett and funny. And who doesn’t like that?

And finally, soon I’m going to be here:


and here:


and also here:


and maybe back to here:


where I’ll finally get to see this:


Cause you guys all know what happened in 2009, right?

Want a hint? The moose outside should have told me.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,



25 Oct


I’m back from California. We had an amazing time.

We flew into LAX, picked up our rental car (It was a Dodge Charger, as in DODGE CHARGER) and headed out to Long Beach, which was beautiful, by the way. This is my second trip to the LA country area and the first time I was sure I could never live there – I mean sure the weather is great and everything but I think I would go crazy if I couldn’t walk everywhere I needed to get to. There’s just SO MUCH DRIVING. That said, I liked Long Beach. You might have won me over Long Beach, you cheeky thing, you.

Course that’s also cause we met some really really great people. The folks who put together the Long Beach Poetry Festival were some of the nicest most genuine down to earth funny artists I’ve ever met. And that is saying a lot coming from me cause those “let’s-get-together-and-have-beers-with-total-strangers,-come-on-it-will-be-fun” parties make my social anxiety rear its ugly head. But they were all so great, I was over my nervousness by the time the first beer was gone.

And Jay did a great job at the reading!


In between poets we snuck over to the V Room which was hands down one of the coolest dive bars I’ve had the privilege of drinking in. It has no windows. None. When you first walk in you stumble around blind and then, you look like this:


So thanks again to the amazing writers who put this reading together. I’m looking at you Kevin, Clint, Anna, Donna, Tamara and Paul and all their little helper cohorts. It was a great day and you crazy bastards made it so.

We bid farewell to Long Beach and headed up the Pacific Coast Highway – California 1. We got lost 1.5 times which isn’t too bad since we covered about 600 miles or something. And one of the 1.5 times lost was only because the sign was blocked by hedges  so we got lost in a town and drove out to a dead end and realized the ocean was now on the wrong side. But man was it a hell of a drive!




Pretty right?

I love road trips. We stopped along the way too.


and look what we found!

Elephant Seals!!


They smelled lovely, trust me.

And then we headed up into Big Sur territory! I drove the whole way yelling TAKE A PICTURE! TAKE A PICTURE to poor Jay.


And we drove over the Bixby Cannon Bridge, which you Kerouac fans know is pretty darn cool. It went by so quick (and it was so high, oh so high) that we didn’t get a picture but it looks like this:

Bixby_Creek_Bridge,_California,_USA_-_May_2013See how HIGH!! Ugh. Too high.


And then we got to Monterey which was beautiful and Stein-becky.


And they did a controlled burn while we were there which was upsetting to see at first until you realized it was, you know, ON PURPOSE.


We went to Aquarium (HAMMER HEAD SHARKS! and PENGUINS!!! and JELLYFISH!!) and found a couple of Steinbeck’s houses and hung out looking at how darn pretty everything was.


Next up was San Francisco. My third visit to this beautiful city. The first was right after Jay and I got married 9 years ago and then again in 2007 when we traveled the country. Each time, it keeps getting sweeter.

But the one thing I had yet to do was walk over the Golden Gate Bridge.

So we did.

From our hotel in North Beach.

For those of you who don’t know, that’s FAR. It wound up being like 9 miles and I thought I was going to die when I got to the other side and wound up begging a lift off the San Francisco Sightseeing Company Trolley driver (the company charges $35/head but our lovely Irish driver took us both for $15) and dropped us off right on Van Ness. The man was a saint, I swear. But still, we WALKED THE GOLDEN GATE!


And then drove it back!


We even headed up to Berkeley and Oakland to find the place where Ginsberg may or may not have written Howl. First off the directions are a little vague. Secondly nearly every coffee shop in Berkeley claims that Ginsberg wrote Howl there. It’s a long poem. They’re probably right. But the main story says that it was written in a shack behind this apartment building:


So like good little lunatics we did a little investigating (i.e. trespassing. Sorry, Mom)  and around back we found this:


Could that be it?

Probably not. But hey, if it’s not, it’s at least where the shack once was.

Afterwards we went to Oakland to Jack London Square where they’ve got his cottage which was dismantled in Alaska and re-mantled in Oakland:


and then had a few beers at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. It was opened in 1883 and the name refers to the fact that it was sailors first drink when they returned or last drink before they headed out. In 1906, because it was built on swampy ground it sank in the earthquake so the whole thing is tilted. I swear, I had to hold onto my beer at the bar. I would have taken a picture of the inside but trust me when I say it’s not the kind of place you start taking pictures in.  At least not with the guys that were in there when we went.


Here’s the inside via wikipedia:


Added bonus, apparently it’s HAUNTED!

The rest of the time in San Francisco we found beat houses (but I’m thinking of starting another blog for that stuff and besides, this post is already too long, n’cest pas?) and drank tea/coffee each morning at Cafe Trieste and drank Dark and Stormies each night at Vesuvio and went to the Beat Museum where we met a great guy (who wrote this book!)  who gave us the low down on Vieni Vieni which was kick ass.


And we also climbed all the way to the top of the Coit Tower and wow, what a view!


And then it was time to go.

And have a miserable shaky “we’re going to die I’m never traveling again” flight home.

That said, within a day, we already started planning the next trip!


Bon Voyage!

Peace, Love and Starbursts,


Post-California update but really, it’s just about poetry.

21 Oct


I’m back from California where I met amazing people, heard amazing poety, drove amazing roads, saw amazing animals, ate amazing food and then took one very NOT amazing flight home. This whole traveling thing would be much easier if someone could just knock me over the head as soon as the plane takes off and wake me up when it lands.

That said, I’ll have a post (with pictures!) on all that soon. In the mean time, here’s some poetry stuff.

First off, many thanks to the fine folks at Red Fez for taking this poem about America being lonely. It’s another poem from the series that I’m working tentatively entitled How to Be An American. More info here.

Also, here’s a poem I wrote this morning cause sharing is caring. Also this is probably the longest poem I’ve ever written. Consider that a warning.

Kevin loves Lisa

This is what it says on the metal door of the bathroom stall.




with a little heart for emphasis.

Next to that it says

Shane and Mary forever.

And above that

Matthew and Marie equals destiny.

I couldn’t help but enjoy the rhyme scheme on that one

as I sat there, peeing out the four beers

we’d already had in this tourist trap

of a bar on the San Francisco wharf

because we were too tired

after hitching a ride back

over the Golden Gate bridge

from a Scottish man driving

a tourist trolley

who said the company charges 35 a piece

but he’d take both of us for 15

as long as we had cash,

we did,

and don’t mind the stopover in Sausalito.

We didn’t.

And now here I am,

too tired to walk back up to North Beach,

reading the graffiti in the women’s room stall

all about love.

I never have a pen on me

let alone a sharpie

to doodle

my thoughts on the metal doors of bar restrooms

probably because I don’t carry a purse,

but other people do,

because I am never without reading material.

I wonder about these women,

the ink at their fingertips,

the truth of their heart

and minds ready to become a permanent part

of the bar landscape

and I can’t help but think

that’s it?

that’s all they have to say is

that Kevin loves them?

Not even that they love Kevin.

No, the order is important.

Kevin Loves Lisa forever and ever and ever.

This is the most we can muster, women?


Because back in New York City

which feels so far from here

and back in time

farther still

someone once scribbled

You’re drunk Kerouac go home

in the men’s room stall of the White Horse

which as far as graffiti goes, is pretty damn good.

And I can’t help but wonder

what else we can write besides

Kevin Loves Lisa

which of course

I’m sure he does

or did

at the moment Lisa pulled from her bag

a sharpie and sealed their future on this door.

And I wonder is it the beer

or the chocolate-tinis that stifles our pen?

That stays our tongue?

That reduces us to nothing more than

Kevin Loves Lisa.

Not even Lisa loves Kevin

because we all know

to be loved

is better than to love.

No one writes poems on the walls of this bar

but I’ve seen a few in the Grassroots

and once an amazing doodle

on the side of a piano

which shared the bathroom space

in New Orleans.

No, on this door,

it is love and only love that we want to talk about,

that Lisa and Marie and Mary,

three women who I now picture together

here in this stall,


brave on vanilla flavored shots

breaking the rules

in their first big girls weekend

trip to San Francisco.

And suddenly, while peeing,

I hate these girls.

I hate them for not being poets

for reducing themselves

to nothing but their relationships

as if couple-dom is the ultimate

status update.

I hate these girls for having nothing

in the empty little heads and empty

little hearts

but to declare

that they have something

that you don’t.

They have a love,

who loves them

all the time and don’t you doubt

it cause that’s why they wrote it in permanent ink.

I’m being harsh, I know,

as I ball up the toilet paper and wipe and flush

and wash my hands and return to the bar

to ask my husband

what men write about on the walls of

their stalls

because it has to be better

than what we women got going and I’m starting

to think that the war of the sexes

will never end if we keep

ratcheting up the bulllshit quota

by deciding to limit ourselves

to the two names between the ampersand,

to define ourselves by the fingers entwined

or not entwined in ours.

I want to find Lisa and shake her

and ask her what she thought the day

she saw her mother crying at the kitchen table

or what she thought

the first time she heard a record skip

Did she believe with all her heart that this moment

was never going to be the same?


I want to know what Kevin thinks,

what he writes on the stall doors

so I ask my husband who cocks an eyebrow

because it seems that I’m always

asking these sort of things

and I wonder if that too

is getting tiring.

What do they write on the stalls, I ask,

as he pulls on his beer and glances

at the playoff game over the bar,

knowing he’s secretly rooting for the Dodgers

even though we’re in Giants country

and he says

it’s mostly about getting head.

Or getting laid.

Or getting some.

And I sigh

and drink my beer

and think

maybe it doesn’t matter

maybe I’m just an old married woman

who doesn’t remember what it’s like

to want to tell the whole world

about how great Kevin is.

And maybe he is,

even if he did write that thing

about getting head on the bathroom wall

of his stall

which I hope, for Lisa’s sake isn’t about her.

And then I think

I hope that I won’t have to pee again

before we get up the hill to Broadway

and Columbus

to have a dark and stormy at Vesuvio.

Peace Love and Starbursts,


10 Things I need more of 2013

20 Dec

Here are 10 things that I need more of in the coming year

1. Well played cellos. It is by far my favorite instrument.

2. Woods in the winter before the snow, when the trees are all bony and stark and look like crooked fingers scraping the sky.

photo by the Lovely Lindita Lee ©

3. Tea. Because tea is perfect.

4. Dusty old libraries to get lost in

Old Library, St. John’s College, Cambridge

5.  Hot air balloon rides. I’ve never had one. I think it’s time.

6. Real books. With secrets that smell all musty.


7. Travels – plane rides to places with languages I don’t speak, winding streets, new sunsets, new music, new food, and train rides over new land.


8. My Muse to go off through the desert and come back with trunk-fulls of scarves and skulls and teeth and magic crystals and secret letters and yellow stained paper and lanterns and masks and ink-stained maps and keys and clocks and quills and then she lets me write it all down.


9. Cold cold nights filled with a million stars.

10.  And finally – Joy. 2012 had joy but also a lot of sorrow. I understand it’s a roll of the dice but while we’re making a list, while we’re asking, I’d like more joy. It doesn’t hurt to ask right?

Happy Holidays, Friends. And Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas from The Bunker

Merry Christmas from The Bunker

And if I can’t have those ten things, I’ll take Peace.

Peace of Mind

a Nation at Peace


I’ll take any of those.

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