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Tom Healy
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It so happened: a group of us were having dinner in Miami last night, sitting on a dock on one of the islands in the shallows of Biscayne Bay. We had wine and a cool breeze and we were doing nothing more than sighing about the glories of potatoes served a certain way when the poet and musician Alicia Jo Rabins came down and joined us and told us the story of Hannah. Rabins has a new band called “Girls in Trouble” and they have a stunning debut album just out this week called, hey, guess what?—“Girls in Trouble.” The... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2009 at The Best American Poetry
It's 76 degrees in Miami and the sun is in that last burst of brightness going down. I got off the plane in sunglasses listening to my new obsession, the great blind sax man Roland Kirk, master of circular breathing who could play two, three, four wind instruments at once and breathe a note as long as twenty minutes. He hummed into his flute, he switched on alarm clocks and sirens and he swung around the "black mystery pipes" on stage -- a long piece of garden hose. As a teaser, here's Roland Kirk in the zoo in a rare... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2009 at The Best American Poetry
Before I pushed the pause button on this blog yesterday—to share a Veterans Day sign of peace—you may remember I was fantasizing about hustling Johannes Vermeer, the Sphinx of Delft, into the small elevator at the back of the Metropolitan Museum and up to the third floor to meet Robert Frank. People have imagined odder, even more hostile jostling of Vermeer. There’s Dali and the rhinoceros and the morphology of Vermeer’s “The Lacemaker.” In some sense, the fantasy simply mirrors the swing in our emotions between contemplation and engagement, between the source of light and what the light falls on,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2009 at The Best American Poetry
Armistice Day. The day the fighting ended. The day the weapons were put down. The day people turned, again, toward imagining what peace would be. Eisenhower warned us how hard it would be. Imagine any President—even this President—sounding the alarm about a permanent culture of war and the dangers of the military-industrial complex. Counting back November on five hands, I remember a letter from an old, decorated World War II veteran who was the father of a college friend of mine. He had written to me after some Reagan mischief and Hollywood tears. It was November 11th and he wrote... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2009 at The Best American Poetry
The protagonist in David Markson’s staggeringly brilliant novel, “Wittgenstein’s Mistress” believes she is the last person on Earth. Fortunately for us, that gives her plenty of time to ruminate on art and philosophy. She spends much of it rattling around in abandoned museums, sometimes burning paintings for heat. And she shares: anecdotes, supposed encounters, verbal swatches of art history, religion and the history of philosophy. In one extraordinarily funny passage, our anonymous heroine--this intellectual post-Apocalypse Survivor™--imagines an encounter between Rembrandt and Spinoza in Amsterdam, circa 1656. “…it is probably safe to assume that Rembrandt and Spinoza surely would have at... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2009 at The Best American Poetry
I left Washington for New York in a cinematic 3-D dust storm this morning. Actually, the storm is pretty much confined to one dark room just off the escalator on the third floor of the Hirrshorn Museum. It’s a huge, vertiginous wall projection in a disturbingly beautiful small show by the Irish artist, John Gerrard. Using gaming software, satellite imaging and a Depression-era photograph he found of an actual Texas dust storm, Gerrard has pulled off a stunning, uncanny 360-video weave of fact and fakery that makes you feel as if you’re moving around and along an on-coming storm. Through... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2009 at The Best American Poetry
“Uncle Tommy, What’s the difference between asking a question and wondering?” Hmm. How about a cookie? When you don’t have children of your own, you can forget that kids can be philosophy on-demand. A friend of mine was late for coffee. I had been watching her ten year-old daughter and finally, the doorbell rang. With pseudo wide eyes and a salt bucket of sarcasm, I looked at my lovely ward of the morning and said, “Well, well, I wonder who that could be!” My friend rushed in the door, flushed and caffeine-deprived. We sat down, laughed, caught up and gossiped.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2009 at The Best American Poetry