Have received what sounded like an affectionate complaint from a friend I admire who apparently enjoys these ramblings and noted there had not been a Report recently, which is because I have so much to report. First, there is the adjustment to the cold, something Mimi has been helping with, as she stays in bed as long as I do, not complaining, and, when pressed, or it is snowing, courageously goes out on my little balcony which would be a fire escape if it were not in such a high-toned building. Also there is not anywhere to escape to, it is just a little iron arc looking across at the rooftops, but it is enough for Mimi, who is beyond a good dog. Then there is the reality that I have gone back to actual work, abandoning my last career as novelist and going back to the first one I had which I imagined in my youth would be the real one, writing musical comedy. Those of you who are still alive who remember that time may recall my mentors were Yip Harburg, whom I recently got to see again in a dream when he helped me with a song, and Frank Loesser, who listened to my songs all those decades ago and said ‘Kid, you’re the biggest talent since me.’ So I am calling on them both in the ethers for help, and we will find out soon if there is an Aftersong.
Then, there was the Inauguration. I hope you were all as moved as I was. Mostly what touched me was Obama thanking those who ‘braved the cold’, as that brought up images in my mind of that crew crossing the Delaware, and it does feel so much like a Second Beginning, which is probably just a step below A Second Coming. Still, Paul Krugman was annoyed in today’s Times that Barack didn’t address health care in his speech and the Bush crowd was unhappy on the way home to Texas that the Prez had stuck it to W, but we do like Plainspeak. I received in the mail, forwarded from LA, what I think of as a golden ticket, very Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a gorgeously embossed and gilded with the presidential seal invitation to the inauguration itself, which I have no idea why I received, but was glad it came late or I would have gone and frozen. There were apologies today that the string geniuses, Itzhak and YoYo were pre-recorded, but they were afraid that a string might break in the cold. I was in the front row of Carnegie Hall after 9/11 when YoYo and Leontyne Price gave a free concert first come first sit, and as I arrived at 5 AM I was in the first row, and could hear YoYo breathing while he played, an intimacy that makes me feel I can call him YoYo. I wept then out of sadness, but found myself tearing up frequently during the events leading up to and during the inaugural event itself, out of joy and an excess of sentimentality and, here it is, back again, love of country. I hope he will be able to pull us out of this morass, and I think Rush Limbaugh should be tried for treason, along with stupidity, for actually saying he wants Obama to fail. A lawyer friend advises me that treason is applicable only in time of war, but what is this, after all?
A man collecting money for the homeless, who was himself freezing on the corner of Broadway and 64th Street as he stood by his inverted water bottle that was not too stuffed with bills and coins asked me why Bernie Madoff is in his penthouse and I have no answer. Nor can I answer those who want the bad guys tried for War Crimes, except that I know it would tear the country apart and the job is to pull it together, and save the system which has failed.
I wish there was a punishment for Greed, but as another lawyer once said to me when I asked him if I could countersue for Greed someone who was suing me for Libel, “Greed is a Given in a court of Law.” And of course it is a Given in Human Nature, at least many human natures, or it wouldn’t be high on the list of the Seven Deadlies.
Have been inching out little tentacles of longing as I re=connect with this great city where I cannot walk Mimi more than a block without having to give her a bath. If I were still a novelist, I would be tempted to go tonight to a workshop called ‘The Miracle List’ where you are supposed to come with a laptop or a journal to note times in your life when you have been touched by Grace, sub-titled ‘Writing, Telling, and Reliving God Moments’ because the group that shows up, edited, would certainly give rise to a good novel. But the day of the book is, I’m afraid, very over unless you’re Toni Morrison, whom we discussed last night at a meeting ot the Bryn Mawr Book Club(I am trying.) Selfsame friend who noted I hadn’t been blogging notes the rise of Hitler salutes in Germany, and I am reminded of the first novel I wrote to a changing market when I lived in Weinheim near the Bergstrasse in Germany after Don died, trying to conquer all my fears at once: being alone, the computer, and the German language, as hearing it immediately signaled to me that they were coming to get me. I was able to observe up close the Wiedervereinigung, the Reunification of both Germanys, where on the TV news every night there would be a map of Germany with little fires all over it, and those were the places where there had been attacks on foreigners. The joke in Munich then was ‘What’s the difference between the Turks and the Jews?’ Punchline: ‘The Jews are already dead.’ The novel was about neo-Naziism, and when my agent submitted it, the response was ‘There is no neo-Naziism in Germany.’ Right after that, most of the publishers were bought by Bertelsmann.
So it is for a long while now that the Fates, or the Muses, or Whoever They Are, have been indicating I should take a different path. So I embark on it like Dorothy, following my yellow brick road, to the lyrics of my mentor, Yip, with my own Toto. Hello, Broadway, Goodbye Borders. All the same, I might go tonight. I mean, you just never know where Grace will find you. Or you will find her.