Monday, September 28, 2015

A Celestial Meaning?

I  recently found among some discarded books a copy of When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man by movie producer Jerry Weintraub with Rich Cohen (Twelve Books,2010). Weintraub died at age 77 on July 6, 2015. I found his book on September 26, which would have been his 78th birthday. Does finding this book when I did have a celestial meaning?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Before I Die...

In front of Harlem's First Corinthian Baptist Church, there are three blackboards side by side. On the middle blackboard is the phrase "Before I Die..." in large letters. From top to bottom, in two columns each, the words "Before I Die I Want To" are repeated with a blank space beside each entry for passersby to fill in their life's goals in colored chalk.

"Before I Die I Want To Write A Book," wrote one person; "Before I Die I Want To Fly Around The World," wrote another; "Before I Die I Want To See My Children Grow Up Happy," wrote still another.

Aside from reminding passersby of their own mortality, this project clearly encourages its participants to set goals, not be afraid to publicly announce them, and strive to attain them.

As the saying goes, if you can conceive it, you can achieve it.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Coloring Books Are No Longer For Kids Only

Think coloring books are just for kids? Think again. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly magazine recently published an article titled "Adults Rediscover the Pleasure of Coloring Books."

"The act of placing color to paper," reports the magazine in its August 10, 2015 issue,"has proved to be a sought after tactile antidote in this distracted age of social media." In addition, "many find coloring to be a relaxing, stress-free experience." So much so that coloring books for adults "have suddenly catapulted to the top of bestseller lists" while at the same time coloring clubs inspired by the Facebook group Ladies Coloring Club have mushroomed across the country.

The idea of adults indulging in coloring books is not such a bizarre thing. After all, comic book/graphic novel publishers hire specialists called colorists to add color to an illustrator's work. And these colorists are definitely not kids.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

On Sharing Books

"[A]s a rule I don't believe in keeping books. After I have read, reread, and reread a book it seems sinful to keep such a reservoir of fun and knowledge fallow on a shelf. Books are meant to be read, and if I'm not reading them then someone else should get the opportunity."--Walter Mosley, from By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review, edited and with an introduction by Pamela Paul (Henry Holt, 2014).

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Tale Of Three Quarrels

In the Notes section of James McGrath Morris's Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2015), he quotes from an article that was part of a series called "Industry USA" that Payne wrote for the Chicago Defender in 1951. The series regarded postwar employment of African Americans in Chicago.

A plant manager (presumably white) is quoted as saying, "When two white people have a quarrel, it's just a quarrel. If two Negroes quarrel, it's a disturbance; but if a white person and a Negro quarrel, it becomes an 'incident.'"

Sad to say, more than sixty years later, that statement still applies.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Combating Monkey Butt

The first time I became aware of the malady called monkey butt was when it was mentioned in a Duluth Trading Company catalogue that offered a product that went by the name "Anti Monkey Butt Powder."

Monkey butt was described in the catalogue copy as "a term coined by bikers  to refer to soreness, itching and redness from long hours on a bike seat." (Presumably horseback riders, bicyclists, truck drivers, and writers (?) are similarly afflicted.)

The mention of this strangely named condition caused me to think back to the early 1960s when my second oldest brother Richard and his traveling companion nicknamed Lucky (who was also our sister's boyfriend at the time), crossed the country on a motorcycle from New York to Los Angeles, where my mother and I were living.

When Richard and Lucky got to Needles, California, the bike broke down a la the scene in the movie Motorcycle Diaries in which the motorcycles of Che Guevara and his traveling companion break down as they travel the length of South America. Richard asked our mother to wire them some money so they could continue on to L.A. She did and they safely completed the journey.

I now regret not interviewing my brother, who died in 1989, about that three-thousand-mile trek. I wonder what sights and adventures they encountered along the way. I also wonder how they combated the dreaded symptoms of monkey butt.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Movies Around The Clock

In New York City, there are various establishments that are open 24 hours: supermarkets, laundromats, gas stations, newsstands, drugstore chains like Rite Aid, to name a few. But there are no 24-hour theatres. There are a couple of theatres in the city that have midnight screenings during the weekends, but that is not the same as having 24-hour screenings.

Some people may think that in this age of the Internet, DVD/Blu-ray disc players, cable and satellite TV that a 24-hour movie theatre is unnecessary. I disagree. There are times when at 2 AM cabin fever strikes and you need  to get out of the house. What better way to escape cabin fever than to catch a flick at the admittedly ungodly hour of 2 AM or 3 AM alongside other similarly afflicted patrons.

Showing movies (classic and contemporary along with short films) around the clock would help the bottom lines of many theatres as well as give movie lovers an opportunity to make new friends among fellow cinephiles, especially in the wee hours of the morning, thereby sparking cinema-related (and other) conversations.

That brings me to a photo I saw in an issue of the Christian Science Monitor Weekly magazine (December 22, 2014) showing a movie theatre in a Moscow suburb with several rows of beds. Beside each bed was a nightstand on top of which was a small lamp. This theatre, noted the caption, "replaced standard seats with bedroom furniture, including 17 double beds," all of which were supplied by the furniture retailer IKEA. An American movie theatre with such amenities might lure a lot of people to post-post-midnight screenings.

This 24-hour movie theatre idea is worth a try. And who knows, it might catch on nationwide.