Had considered the possibility of a modified ‘Prince Philip/Betty White’ – not quite making it to a landmark birthday – but job done, here I am, seventy-five.

Stephen provided me cocoa con marshmallow ‘Peep’ this morning, the cup he persuaded one his many potter friends to make for me last year.

He fulfilled my birthday ‘cake’ request with a lemon meringue pie, complete with surprise meringue ‘integers’.

Abandoned on the porch. Happy not to argue! Cheers!

On the spur of the moment, and ‘in lieu of’, let’s say, why not enjoy Annie Lennox’s very ‘assertive’ God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen instead! Happy Christmas!

I had been mulling a post about Stephen Sondheim since his death, but like so many mullings, mulling is as far as I got.

[Editor’s Note: I know the post title is a Harold Rome lyric, okay?]

I’m about to crib an email exchange with the famous Martin to whom I’m always referring here on Domani Dave, but first, a couple of notes.

My second exposure to Stephen Sondheim [my first exposure (duh…) was ‘West Side Story’] was Richard Lester’s movie version of ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’, which includes the lyric I’m still contemplating for my epitaph:

’Oh, isn’t it a shame?  I can neither sew nor cook, nor read or write my name.  But, I’m happy merely being lovely, for it’s the one thing I can give to you!’

Another shame is that Stephen (the husband…) finds ‘Send in the Clowns’ too painful to hear.  This causes more abrupt cancelations of a whistling in a household of constant (some say ‘incessant’) whistlings than you might imagine; the internal jukebox rotates where it will.

But, on to Martin’s text:

I must confess that I learned more about Stephen Sondheim after he died than when he was alive.  But at the end of the day I was brought back to something I’ve known for years: Barbra Streisand’s medley version of ‘Pretty Women/The Ladies Who Lunch’ is my favorite Sondheim: a soft beginning increasing to a dominant middle and finally a show-stopping end. Truman Capote once publicly complained ‘must that girl make every goddamn song a three-act play?’  When you’re an ingenue in your first Broadway play and you only have one solo number (‘Miss Marmelstein’), you turn that one number into a three-act play!

My reply:

This ‘ingénue’ knows ‘Miss Marmelstein’ by heart, and will perform it for you for a small sum of money.  Out of my collection of Barbra Streisand (beginning in 1963), I was once playing ‘I Can Get It for You Wholesale’ on the family victrola (a handsome console Magnavox) and my father, who professed to not like Barbra Streisand, laughed when the ‘Miss Marmelstein’ lyric got to the word ‘corroborate’.  (He was a CPA who practiced in an office full of lawyers.)  In addition, I can whistle along, note by note, flawless tempo matching, with key change, ‘Pretty Women/Ladies Who Lunch’.  Book me now; FYI, this will cost more than the ‘Miss Marmelstein’ performance.

— Dave, the homosexual

My most valued friend George S texted this the other day.  [click]

I replied with this photo and a hastily written description.

My contribution to ‘Cavalcade of the Tragic’.
Someone told Stephen of this massive cemetery in Gainesville GA which wants to rival Whispering Glades from ‘The Loved One’, and naturally we drove to see it. Whereas there are sprawling lawns of conventional low profile metal markers, there is also a vast section that gives the place its theme park reputation. I think you can zoom around in this photo, which will give you the opportunity to suss the structure’s function before I tell you. This is on the edge of a man-made ‘lake’, envisioned I want to guess having swans gliding peacefully across its ‘glasslike’ surface. Those swans can be seen on the left, squatting on a rock bridge to a little shed refuge, a hearse and limousine off in the distance. To the right is a vast mausoleum, cheaply built and from casual observation, haphazardly maintained. Beyond it, the Park of American Presidents, really bad statuary of every last one of them. Ashes can be interred at the foot of your fave, only JFK is so honored with remains. The structure pictured, rotting away, with the cardboard casting tube of one of the concrete support pilings hanging limp in the water. The staging area of this gazebo is festooned with cobwebs and leaves, and has an alter-ish thing which, as you can see, resembles a state park trash can, which is essentially what it is. No surprise at this point: one is invited to dump the departed’s ashes into the Lake of Eternal Grace (my name…) through the portal below the angel statuary there. The small plaques (I’ve seen better on lockers) glued onto the whatever, bear evidence that only a half-handful of families went for this.
Dignity, Rest In Peace.

– – – – – – – –

I forwarded this exchange to another most valued friend Will W, a very talented photographer, who gently put me in my place by pointing out that I had favored the narrative and completely bypassed the artistry of the  photographs in Orlando FL.  (It should be noted that he has made a career of photographing exactly these kinds of tableaux.)

Point taken.  Of my burial-at-sea pavilion photo, George S replied:

David, my initial reaction to this image and your finely crafted description was to move it immediately into my “keeper” files, but I did not.;-)

Point taken.

Couldn’t decide whether to go dark or light today.

I’m reading William Manchester’s ’The Death of a President’, published in 1967 and purchased then, but only read in a drastically abridged version serialized in LOOK magazine in the day. Onto the bookshelf, into a moving box, onto the bookshelf… un-thumbed, un-loaned, just yellowed with age.

Having experienced the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this month in 1963, at 16 years-old, and now reading this densely detailed account of the days preceding and following, it’s mildly disorienting in part from being reminded of early Sixties mores via some of the author’s unapologetic terms.

Now the ’light’, the last of the ginger lilies, a small cluster of blossoms saved from the cold in a sequestered spot in our postage stamp-sized front yard/courtyard. (One of the men delivering our new washing machine last July asked me if we planted ’all this stuff, or did it just grow up’. Sometimes I wonder.)

Followed by the only ’Fall Color’ we get anymore in these parts, mums from our friend Rick’s plant nursery.

When my dearest friend Dee died ten years ago, the sifting of her possessions went to her friends Charlotte and Tammy. They discovered a trove of greeting cards unsent and decided mailing them could not be the wrong thing to do.

This is the card I received. Dee’s favorite holiday was Halloween, though she could do a right thorough job on Christmas as well. Imagine the slight dislocation, then delight, melancholy, to hear from her again.

In 1971 through all manner of circumstance, it fell to me to sort the contents of my grandparents’ attic. The experience was like opening a tomb, as evidently it had not been disturbed in decade upon decade.

Unplundered, among the treasures I found a Ouija board. Though Dee and I never tried it out, I turned it over, at something resembling her insistence, to her care. I suspect the evil husband in its vanishing, Charlotte and Tammy found not a trace of it during their good works.

The following essay I would call balanced in its talk of ‘experiences’. I myself have had one that in particular could not be explained the way deja vu has been, the left brain taking in a scene a semi-demi-micro-millisecond before the right brain does.

‘Experiences’? What about you? I’m always hopeful for another.

We got married six years ago on the Equinox, the September one, cleverly choosing an equinox to begin with to celebrate the newly won ‘Marriage Equalty’.

Enter information we’d missed. Whereas the vernal Equinox always occurs March 20th, the autumnal one, as it turns out, occurs on the 22nd of September two years running, then switches to the 23rd two years running, then switches back to the 22nd, etc.

I don’t know what that’s all about, but I call it astronomical tomfoolery.

Quick check as of this writing says marriage and equinox did in fact occur on September 23, 2015.

Here is an iPad lit photo Stephen unearthed of the happy couple somewhere during our 44 years together.

We are depicted engaged in what I believe is called ’horsing around’.

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 is a lovely excerpt from an opinion piece from the Washington Post last week by George Will entitled The Pursuit of Happiness is Happiness.

___________________________________________________

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. 

_________________________________________________

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”

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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