Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Were You There?

You remember matchbooks.  Those ubiquitous lighters on which detectives found scribbled clues.  The keepsake of the place where your boss gave you a promotion.  The joint where this babe kissed you for the first time, and then became your wife.

Matchbooks have disappeared.  At the Hoya resort hotel in Taitung, Taiwan, last month I asked for one and the confused clerk handed me a souvenir notebook as a consolation.  At Moriarty’s pub in Philadelphia last week, the waitress said, “I’ll give you a light, but we don’t have matches.  Or swizzle sticks.” 

Matchbooks have gone the way of celluloid mirrors (1900s), plastic telephone dialers women used to keep from breaking a fingernail (1950s), and metal lunchboxes your kids used in fights on the school bus (1960s).  We all have Bic lighters now, or have quit smoking.

Matchbooks and matchboxes are the ephemera of memories.  The Equinox in Manchester, Vt., is where Ethan Allen held staff meetings a few centuries ago.  The Kitcho on West 46th in New York was a weekly hangout for sushi when I was directing communications at Dun & Bradstreet.  The St. Regis on Fifth and 55th St. was a marvelous place to sip a martini, but don’t ask for some simple cheese and crackers for dessert.  The Hôtel Royal in Evian, France, is the place I told the roadie for my meetings to sit down and simply watch the passersby.  The Waldorf’s Bull and Bear is where my wife and I repaired for drinks before a show or after I was stuck working late.  London’s Inter-Continental brings back memories of strolling through Hyde Park.  And on and on they go.

And so the years pass.  Time is the rip tide in the Hellgate, pushing on my seventy-odd birthdays.  Surging forward and backward, dragging me onto the rocks and then washing me back with the new currents.  Why hold on to these things?  Memories. 

Realists will tell you memories are like trying to describe your first kiss with the red-headed eighth grade girl in the movie theater.  It’s not the real thing.  It’s a memory, and you can’t trust that any more than you could trust your first girlfriend.  But the truth is that the memories may be better than reality.

Monday, March 18, 2013

We're Swimming in a Digital Sea

My apologies for being away so long.  It’s unconscionable, I know, but in the meantime I’ve published four stories, a novelette of 12,000 words and several reviews.  Two more acceptances came this week and the new writing continues.

In fact, writing “in a vacuum” is on my mind.  There’s a feeling in writing camps and among other frustrated scriveners that the Web interrupts their creative juices.  Could I write in a digital vacuum?  No, never!  I can’t any longer imagine a world without Facebook, the Internet, my iPhone and Wi-Fi.  I’m not a cut-and-paste writer, but there are sources that need to be looked up, facts to be checked, names and places to be verified.

I just completed a 3,000-word story in two days this week.  It started when I stumbled across a person named Cameo.  Great metaphorical name.  What’s a cameo?  Had to look it up for the tension between black and white, smooth and rough. 

Then Sheryl Sandberg (Leaning Forward) intruded with the insight that likability and success are correlated for men, but inversely affect women.  Okay.  Good tension for a woman entering my fictional affair with a professional acquaintance.

The other main character is named Batman, like my 9th grade classmate in Pasadena.  Is there really such a name?  Yes, it’s Anglo-Saxon from Derbyshire and comes from bat, or boat.  Thank you 

I was troubled over my blah ending when my star-crossed lovers agree to see each other at the next year’s conference.  Image of a library book being returned to the lover?  Nah.  Then it came to me: the phrase signifying epiphany: “I once was lost and now am found.”  Yes!  Biblical?  No, it’s a lyric from “Amazing Grace.”  Thank you, Google.  All this research while banging out copy.

So, pooh on Yaddo and other writers’ retreats that have no Wi-Fi, little or no Internet access, that all but ban telephones.  I’m wired!  Junot Diaz wonders how many novels he will not have written because of his digital linkage.  How about you?