If Congress Were a Choir – Well, Parliament is!

April 16th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about this great essay written by Margaret Evans, titled If Congress Were a Choir. She makes so many perfect points about compromise and working together in order the create something great and worthwhile. I spoke about her essay at Harvard last weekend. I conceded that the trick would be getting a group like congress to form and participate in a choir. But Parliament has managed it!

A glimpse of spring I caught last week. Apparently spring has been postponed, however. (It’s freezing out here.)


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The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

April 15th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

The Divide is the book I wanted to write, and I don’t know why I didn’t, but it’s just as well because it looks like Matt Taibbi did an amazing job, and his background was so much better suited for this project. Thank you for writing it, Matt Taibbi.

I first became aware of the prosecution disparity when I was researching unsolved murders, and I wrote an op-ed titled Counting Corporate Crooks. What was infuriating me was no one was going after white collar criminals with the kind of vigor they went after other criminals, and no one was auditing the people investigating white collar crime. Who knows if they’re doing a good job or not?? The kind of sentences someone who robs a candy store gets vs someone who robs millions was a whole other enraging wave. It’s insane and so fucking immoral and wrong. From the Washington Post review:

“How can it be, he asks, that a street drifter such as Tory Marone serves 40 days in jail after cops find half a reefer in his pocket, but not a single executive of HSBC faces criminal charges after the bank “admitted to laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, washing money for terrorist-connected organizations in the Middle East, allowing rogue states under formal sanctions by the U.S. government to move money freely by the tens of billions through its American subsidiary, [and] letting Russian mobsters wash money on a grand scale”?”

Again, thank you for writing this book Matt Taibbi. Here he is on The Daily Show, talking about the book. And thank you Jon Stewart for having him on and bringing attention to this book.

When I was in Cambridge this weekend I took a walk in the Old Burial Ground in Harvard Square. I saw a large stone for the Dana family and took a picture because I used to walk by Dana Street every day on my way home when I lived in Cambridge. Dana Street, I just learned, was named after Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Francis Dana, whose name isn’t on this stone. It could be on the other side because he is buried there.


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Joyful Noise at Harvard University, April 12, 2014

April 14th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Joyful Noise, conducted by Allison Fromm, performs at the Beyond the Concert Hall symposium hosted by the Harvard Music Department and Andrew Clark, the Director of Choral Activities at Harvard University. (That’s Alice Parker over on the left wearing a white scarf.) We spent the day “Exploring the neurological, therapeutic, and social benefits of community singing.”

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My Trip to Harvard

April 13th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Thank you so much Andrew Clark (Director of Choral Activities at Harvard University) for inviting me to speak at your symposium. Those Harvard choristers are so lucky to have you. The story about you and Sara Pyszka taking days to program her Dynavox to make music says it all. Also loved Sara—”Don’t judge!” (about her love of Taylor Swift). I heard so many fantastic people speak, and so many great groups sing, I can’t name them all, but if my video of Joyful Noise comes out well I’ll post that another time.

I have to mention that I got to be directed in song by the fabulous Alice Parker. Now I know why everyone always speaks of her in tones of such affection and admiration. You have to meet her. She’s just so completely steeped in music and is at the same time so generous of spirit, it’s impossible not to be carried away in her presence.

The first thing I saw when I looked out my window at my hotel! A crew team. It’s a now-you-know-you’re-in-Boston thing.


I kept looking for things that were there when I was there (I lived in Cambridge when I was a student at Tufts and the Museum School). I’m pretty sure I bought cigarettes here. I was quite the smoker back in the day. By the way, who knew author Mark Helprin hated women and smoking so much? I’m re-reading his book Winter’s Tale and it’s come up twice.


And here’s where I used to fill my prescriptions! Exciting, I know. While the sign is still there, the store recently closed. Sob. It’s right up the street from the former Buddy’s Sirloin Pit, a favorite eating establishment of mine at the time.


I was with my friend, the poet Christina Davis (her most recent book is An Ethic) and we slipped into the student dining room. As if those students don’t already have it great as it is, this is where they eat?? Jesus Christ. Oh! The LA Times loved Christina’s book. From the review: “These are remarkable, ambitious poems that refuse, in grief, the easy way out: predictable religious or received knowledge responses to death — but dive into philosophical and moral ‘re-definition.’”


I didn’t get a decent shot of Alice Parker because I was too shy. I didn’t even think to film her conducting. I’m slipping.


PS: I saw a turkey.


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Siblings Day

April 11th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I just learned that today is Siblings Day (who knew?). I have to get ready for a trip to Boston so I’m reposting something I wrote here in 2007. Good lord, I’ve been blogging here for seven years (nine, actually, I should have a virtual party next year). Happy siblings day, Peter and Doug! I love you both! Oh, but all this dental misery that just ended????? Totally their fault. AND, to this day they are proud of it, which actually cracks me up. Apparently I was a pain in the ass. (They are not aware that they were too! Who wasn’t though, growing up?)

May 2, 2007

Doug.jpg My friend Chris called me yesterday to tell me how nice my brother Douglas is. He is so nice she had to call me to rave about him for a while. He is THAT NICE. He had called her to invite her to go to my choir performance and that he would be taking everyone out to dinner beforehand. She was actually high on the wonderfulness of my brother and she had to tell me. I was working and she didn’t have my complete attention. Then I got distracted by a 1947 Maya Deren movie of kittens. I am probably everyone’s most infuriating friend.

But I knew what she was feeling. My brother Douglas is the kind of person who says the things that we all later think, “I should have said that.” He says them. He is direct, honest, funny and sweet. It’s a heady thing sometimes, talking to him. Then we talked about how nice my other brother Peter is, but a different style. Douglas is effusive-nice, and Peter is quiet-nice. I once said I wanted a jewelry box and had been looking and looking for one, but I couldn’t find any that I liked. The next Christmas Peter gave me a jewelry box that he had HAND MADE. Plus, he’s gifted in how things are put together, so when you pull out the top tray of this box and put it back it always softly shooshes into place with this very satisfyingly perfect cushioned plink-feel. It’s hard to explain. Anyway, Peter has a good heart too, and manages to communicate what Douglas communicates, but in his way. Anyone who has ever gotten a perfectly crafted thing knows that it is love made into a physical object, and is every bit as comunicative as words.

Peter2.jpg Seriously though, I lucked out brothers-wise, they really are special. AND THEIR WIVES, Robin and Karen. Great people attract great people. I will never forget how Robin and Karen cared for my mother when she was dying. Robin is an artist. I’ve got a couple of her pieces here! Karen, I think she should be a school principal. She’d be like the cool principal. She is great with kids, but she has a wicked sense of humor. AND THEIR KIDS, Greg, Ellie, Nicole and Christopher. Greg is a writer too, although he may decide to go in an entirely different way with his life, he’s 16. But he’s really good and could be a writer if that’s what he decided. He’s a sweetie. Totally Doug and Robin’s kid. His sister Ellie, who is 9, is a handful, which for me is BIG compliment. I love a girl who is a handful. Go out there and KICK LIFE’S ASS, Ellie. Christopher, I know him the least, but he’s an aethist!! YAY. He’s also young, 17, so we’ll see if it holds, but one more for our team maybe!! Nicole is at Stonybrook and she loves animals like me, so of course Nicole is the BEST ONE. Just kidding. They tie. I keep meaning to ask Nicole how she likes Stonybrook because one of the women who I’ve been interviewing for this book (her grandmother was a medium I am writing about) has a daughter who is thinking of going there.

The top picture is Douglas on the beach at Amagansett, I think it was 1975. The next picture is Peter, around 1973. This is the Peter I grew up with. He was NEVER not playing guitar, and he loved Jimmy Hendrix, and while I can appreciate the man’s talent, I was not a fan. Many a time I plotted against my brother’s guitar. I wonder if they felt the same way after my millionth rendition of Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag?

Oh, and please be noting that they are both blonde. I’m the adopted one, right??

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