Irishry

When I moved to San Pedro one of the welcome signs was learning that an established family of iron workers with my name lived here. The rumor was that one of its younger members hung at Walker's Café out on Point Fermin and had my exact name. My mother, a devoted gene-tracer, never mentioned a strain of our family that thrived in these parts. So I was very curious. And … [Read more...]

This High

My first attempt at rolling a joint was rather pathetic. It looked more like a small turd covered in paper than something to be smoked. And not knowing to remove the twigs and seeds — of which it had many — the loosely rolled number disconcertingly popped and crackled each time I took a hit of it. Was there something wrong with the pot? Had I been ripped off by the dropout with … [Read more...]

London 1966: I.T., the Camel, and a Song Named Me

The camel’s unexpected appearance saved me. The raggedy texture of his fur, his massiveness, and his breath were all undeniably real, no matter how bizarre the setting and cast of characters. Snaking black power cords connecting reporters to brilliant artificial light, long-armed microphones and BBC television cameras did not trip his feet as they did mine. The night could not … [Read more...]

Catskill Bill: A Portrait of a Fisherman

The Catskill region is a lonely place. Maybe it wasn’t in its borscht belt heyday when young Jewish New Yorkers spent their summers in the big hotels with the hope of meeting a future husband or wife. And many did. The stories are legion. But when I first came to know the area intimately, in 1985, it was a lonely place and it still is. Beyond the hotels people live rural and … [Read more...]

When the Moon is in the Seventh House

My beat up Renault pulled into the short dirt driveway of my small cape style house in Lyme, New Hampshire that March of 1970. The 60’s were over. Bob Dylan had left New York City too for the country upstate in Woodstock and I was doing the same here in New Hampshire. I thought that was auspicious and in line with “what’s happening”. When you are young it seems to be important … [Read more...]

Riding with Sebastiano 1964

Dawn broke gray and silent on another dreary London day. A cold March rain hit my face and drizzled down my neck as I snuck past my landlady’s apartment and out the door and onto the street where my new Triumph motorcycle waited. I was ready for my escape. I was just nineteen years old, a refugee from a wealthy family in New York, and I was ready for adventure! It was nineteen … [Read more...]

The Wounded

After the end of the last really big war, WWII, where something like sixty million people died, America had a very nice stretch of about twenty years. We were on top of the world, didn’t need to rebuild bombed-out cities, needed only to go forward into comfort and prosperity. President Ike warned against the “military industrial complex” but nobody paid attention or knew what … [Read more...]

Ma’s Face

I was in the first grade with the purple-faced Mrs. Reagan when my mother had the first operation on her face to remove a tumor. This wasn’t the one that took the facial nerve; that came later. Still, it was difficult for a little boy to see his mother’s fine, beautiful face all sunken in and scarred. It was not the same face, possibly not even the same person. Surgery fifty … [Read more...]

Pelham Bay Wilding 1957

“Have you ever been in combat, Ricker?” my spiritual advisor asked.Pelham Bay Wilding The Molotov cocktail burst against the wall shocking the quiet, suburban night with flames fifty feet high. The bricks of the old gothic school scattered the gas across its surface, scorching the big flat wall where, during the day, children played their games. Almost immediately the … [Read more...]

Becoming Jill Kerouac

It all started with the word. Not THAT word. But a word — or a string of words, rather — that struck me:[quote]There are no Jack Kerouacs or Holden Caulfields for girls. Literary girls don’t take road-trips to find themselves; they take trips to find men. (Kelsey McKinney)[/quote]As a freshly-minted English major with a semester’s study abroad, a few recreational trips … [Read more...]