Twelve years on, and at this point clearly running on fumes, I understand that it could be difficult to believe that once upon a time Domani Dave even sported custom blog ‘headers’ tailored to the subject of each new post.

Here are three from the archive.

The trouble is, I tend to torture everything I write, which is very fatiguing at this stage of my lack of ‘lust for life’, so to speak. So, now it’s back to posting other people’s compositions.

In the case of the example I’ve chosen to purloin for this post, it’s partially about excellent writing.  How depressing is that…

It closes with: “The struggle itself toward the heights,” wrote Albert Camus, “is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” 

I’m just going to go ahead and say that I cannot imagine Sisyphus happy…

ANYway, here are lovely excerpts from an opinion piece from the Washington Post last week by George Will entitled The Pursuit of Happiness is Happiness.

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Arriving in the splendor of Grand Central Terminal, I plunked down a nickel for a New York tabloid in order to see what was going on in Gotham. This purchase of a New York Post was a life-changing event because in it I found a column by Murray Kempton.

I do not remember what his subject was that day, but his subjects generally were of secondary importance to his style, which reflected his refined mind and his penchant for understated passion, mordantly expressed. Here, for example, is a sentence from his October 1956 report on President Dwight David Eisenhower campaigning for reelection: 

‘In Miami he had walked carefully by the harsher realities, speaking some 20 feet from an airport drinking fountain labeled “Colored” and saying that the condition it represented was more amenable to solution by the hearts of men than by laws, and complimenting Florida as “typical today of what is best in America,” a verdict which might seem to some contingent on finding out what happened to the Negro snatched from the Wildwood jail Sunday.’ 

This 75-word sentence — sinewy, ironic and somewhat demanding — paid a compliment to his readers: He knew they could and would follow a winding syntactical path through a thought so obliquely expressed as to be almost merely intimated. Kempton understood that the swirling, stirring society in which Americans are immersed is constantly clamoring for their attention, plucking at their sleeves and even grabbing them by the lapels with journalism, politics, advertising and other distractions. Furthermore, Kempton knew that reading newspaper columns is an optional activity, so a writer must make the most of his ration of words. Reading a columnist’s commentary on political and cultural subjects is an acquired taste, and a minority one at that: It will be acquired only if it is pleasant, even fun. 

However, the fact that most Americans do not read newspapers, let alone the commentary columns, is actually emancipating for columnists. The kind of people who seek out written arguments are apt to bring to the written word a fund of information and opinions. Having a self-selected audience of intellectually upscale readers allows the columnist to assume that his or her readers have a reservoir of knowledge about the world. So, he can be brief … without being superficial. 

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There is also much to reflect on about cultural matters, broadly construed, including the interesting fact that “parent” has become a verb, and sexual mores have … well, let Peter de Vries, the wittiest writer since Mark Twain, explain: “A hundred years ago Hester Prynne of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ was given an A for adultery. Today she would rate no better than a C-plus.”

July 2, 1976: Hartwig House, hallway (clickable)

This has always been my favorite Joel Meyerowitz photograph.

I believe I am in good company, as whoever curates joelmeyerowitz.com has placed it first in the series of photos displayed there.

On the right, chenille bedspread, small bureau, framed print on the wall, ‘distract’ you from an otherwise kind of hypnotic view down the hall.

I think of this picture hearing cinematographer William Fraker relating a conceit of Roman Polanski’s during the filming of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.

It’s a very short video clip.

Feign deny you craned your own neck a micron or two.

From our friend Martin, who teaches high school in Santa Monica:

Today I received California’s textbook guide to incorporating new social standards into the classroom. My favorite is this book title for Elementary School:
“The Bride was a Daddy — How to Teach LGBQT to First Graders”

Some couple of years ago, we were inadvertently invited to a party.

An afternoon lawn event with an obscene amount of food and mobs of the legitimately invited, we did in fact know a sizable swath of people there.

The inadvertency? Apparently the hostess had asked a friend about a couple she wanted to invite, but didn’t know, and the response to her description resulted in us. I can’t remember how we eventually discovered we weren’t the intended, and I won’t ask the irritable Stephen again.

One of the known guests at the party was lovely Page O. You are obliged to take it on faith that in both appearance and demeanor she is a complete tonic. Chatting with her, she introduced me to a gentleman nearby who had recently relocated from New York City.

I can typically be counted on to trot out my must-be-a-culture-shock opener when I’m introduced to someone ‘from abroad’, whether it’s moving here from a large metropolis, or another country. In this case, it produced an engaging back and forth.

Interrupted mid-sentence by another partygoer, when that person lurched away, this fellow said to me, ‘You were saying…’

Shocking as this overtly courteous display was, I believe I was able to collect myself, and parting, he said he looked forward to our running across each other again, he imagined, unaware hubby and I were all but common party crashers…

Friday was Stephen’s seventieth birthday. I gave him peonies, his favorite, from a local commercial flower farm owned by a gentleman who could only be cuter than he is if he sold his soul. I would not want that.

I also gave Stephen a new iPad. I gave him a new iPad for his sixtieth birthday. As you can see, I have virtually no imagination.

Went searching the other week for a husband-targeted birthday card, one specifically gooey with adoration, but they were all way too écrasant in their ghastly and I chickened out.

Celebrating both the birthday and the ‘permission’ to congregate with other vaccinated’s, we had lunch with a couple at a superbly COVID-revamped restaurant in town called The National. Stephen knows everybody, so other brave lunchers stopped by the table. It was a trace surreal.

Click on my attached photo, enjoy, and I’ll post a picture of the flower grower if you’re very nice to me.

I’d thought to borrow the title ‘Curious things about the house’ for this post, an homage, or ‘Spomage’ (sorry) rather, then tweaked to ‘Curiosities about the house’, but backed down — though our house is in fact curio heaven, or curio something.

I came home one day and found one of Stephen’s ‘finds’ dropped off near the front porch steps, and briefly imagined it had gotten there on its own, word having circulated among inanimate object circles that our house was like the elephant graveyard.

Stephen is the inveterate collector, but it will be revealed that the items on display in this post are actually mine.

These perky artifacts idle in a china cabinet from my mother’s house.  I’ve begun realizing that I routinely refer to the house that way reasonably, as she remained there alone 33 years after my father’s death at 48, 52 years ago today.

Emptying the house with my brother, I found these candles in a box of Christmas ornaments, wrapped in the same bit of tissue paper they’d return to each year after an appearance in some spruce or holly backed tableau.  It was the Fifties.

Now, their survival: they’ve got to be 65+ years-old, and they’re wax.  What are the odds.  Additionally, and I think I’ve wondered since childhood, wicks?  Who would light them and watch those tiny fawn heads melt?

My friend Will W says, ‘Only a monster!’  I’m going with that.

Next up: OXO silicone egg poachers.

You put them in boiling water up to the midriff there, crack the egg into the top scoop, it falls through into the cage, the egg coheres, egg white ‘feathers’ tamed!

Though you may not go into Eggs Benedict ecstasy as apparently I have done, you must have these, and will not know that until you do.  Thanks welcomed.

In my former workplace was Judy S, one of the four video producer/directors in the unit when I signed on there.  I liked Judy quite a bit, though she was generally considered a pain, and knew it, for her wanton refusal to stray from ‘procedure’.

Judy dabbled in little theatre, and passed along to me once that someone experienced in amateur thespiana told her she was the kind of cast member who was scary, because her reading of her lines was always perfect.

Explanation: that should another member of the cast forget his/her line, the specter of an impromptu ‘bridge’ to keep the whole thing moving along could make the ‘perfect’ actor freeze.

Judy also wrote.  She related that during one quick in-person read-through of a submission, the editor looked up from the page and commented approvingly, ‘You use semi-colons!’ and moved on.  Imagine semi-colons getting an author’s foot in the door.

Recently, I encountered “usen’t” for the first time.  For the usen’t novice, this link presents a quick primer.  I do wonder if usen’t mightn’t light up an editor’s face like semi-colons, in spite of the linked opinion that its use leads to ‘cafard, parochialism, censoriousness’.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the use of the word ‘cafard’ could lead to parochialism and censoriousness.

By the way, just a warning: autocorrect doesn’t like ‘usen’t’ one single bit. 

My brother informed me this morning that my friend Tony Austin has died at age seventy-five plus one day.

This posting will not be one of those Facebook things where old people start crossing off friends, you will know Tony from the maybe dozen times I have mentioned him here over the years, most recently with this post.

I lifted this photograph from the internet this morning in search of his obituary, this is his default facial expression I’d known over the years.  Time and distance has not protected me from this sadness at all.

Behold Yukio Mishima, strikingly au naturel, or as Stephen and I like to say in our in-house misuse, strikingly al dente.

I lifted this picture from a piece on ‘Yukio Mishima: The Death of a Man’ by Kishin Shinoyama.

We have a copy of the famous ’Ordeal by Roses’ by Eikoh Hosoe, but I confess that I am not very much fond of those photographs, which are not helped by the layout, which is a mess.

No complaint here, Mishima was atypically furry for a Japanese gentleman, according to those knowledgeable in these matters, including his biographer, Henry Scott-Stokes, whom we met in Toronto years ago.

I posted about that meeting — a victim (the post) of my great 2016 ‘blog purge’.  In that post, I also mentioned a Mishima short story recounting the suicide of two women in a greenhouse.

Writing then, that for whatever reason, the story ‘spoke to me’ (don’t be alarmed), I need to relocate it, or I’m going have to finally decide that I imagined the story myself (don’t be alarmed).

After this, I’m going to try very hard to stop posting photos of book covers…

Why am I telling you this?

I started blogging in 2009, but in October 2016, I ditched the previous posts in a fit of cyber housecleaning. Some of it was really nice writing, but alas, as my old friend Susan once said: ‘Compulsion is a cruel master’.

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