NOT POSITIVE ID

When she brought home
my new kid sister
Mom said,
“Say hello to Carrie.”

I thought that’s what Mom said,
but am I certain?
Well, no.
Not very.

Because Dad calls the kid
“L’il Chicken”
or
“Queen of Sheba-Geneeba Sleuth.”

While Mom says to her,
“Just look at you,
My Sweet Precious Little
Houndstooth!”

Gramma sings
“Hi Boo-ga-loo,”
while strolling baby
‘round the block.

Grampa asks Dad
for pictures of
“My favorite l’il
Cuckoo Clock.”

Me?
I’ve learned:
forgetful silly tongued grownups
can be scary.

Lucky for my sister
I for one
will be sticking with her real name:
Carrie.

Advertisements

Presenting: “HOLLY BOWLING – Distilling a Dream”

The following is a production of @WeaverNFLF & me.
MANY MANY thanks to all those who helped make it happen.
Special thanks to @hollyjbowling for sharing her story.  Enjoy the show!

 

SPOILER ALERT

Andy asked Angie
nicely one day,
“Would you mind
if I borrowed a book?”

Angie replied,
“Of course you may.
Here’s my library shelf.
Go ahead. Take a look.”

Andy chose a volume
and inquired
“Have you read this?
How’s this one?”

Angie answered,
“I’ve read it but
won’t spoil it ‘cause
Spoilin’s no fun.”

So Andy borrowed
the book and began it
But he didn’t want
to spoil it either.

So when his head
wasn’t stuck in that book,
Andy stored it in
the Refrigereader.

CATCHING A CLOUD: A Sneak Peek at a new Phish Inspired Film

My latest project is an independent film co-produced with @WeaverNFLF
It’s a short feature coming later this week.  Here’s a sneak peek.  We hope you enjoy the show.

A dream is a living thing.  It doesn’t stay still or remain the same.  It changes shapes, changes directions, looks different at different stages.  It’s not always possible to say where a dream originates, or to predict where it’s headed next.  But in the end, the best dreams are vibrant, singular, and unforgettable, much like the best music.  Especially like the best jams.

More than a dozen years ago, it was Phish jams that inspired Holly Bowling’s still on-going dream – which in its earliest stage, resembled a concert she feared she’d never be able to attend.  When the group returned from hiatus, Holly’s dream took on the shape of a ticket to her first show; then time off work; then the chance to follow the band.

Over and over, the classically trained pianist-turned Phish lover touched what seemed like the ceiling of her musical dream, only to have it rise and expand again, becoming something bigger and more dynamic.  This was a cloud – a natural, inimitable thing.  At first Holly admired it, then she chased it.  Then after witnessing an iconic Phish performance in July 2013, she decided to try and catch it.

Once more her dream transformed, this time taking on the shape of sheet music that captured the more than thirty minutes of musical magic and light that had become instantly known as “The Tahoe Tweezer.”  Holly put it on paper, then the cloud moved again, suddenly appearing as the vision of a crowd-funded album of her jam-scriptions, the first real recording of her life.  In the summer of 2015, Holly held the CD and vinyl prints of that very album, which she appropriately titled “Distillation of a Dream.”

“Distillation” might have been a destination for some aspiring artists.  But for Holly it was merely another milestone, along with the night that recording artist Marco Benevento unexpectedly invited her on stage to perform with him, or the afternoon Holly played a Steinway in Golden Gate Park – her sound filling the same famous hills on which her jamming fore-fathers, the Grateful Dead, first played a half century earlier.  Holly fittingly joined their history in the same month that the Dead said, “Fare, thee well,” and it was a great moment.  Then, the dream expanded again.

Its next shape was an opportunity three thousand miles from Holly’s San Francisco home: a Philadelphia venue that she dreamed her piano playing could fill with patrons.  Just like Phish in their early years, Holly took on the risk of renting a room and the burden of selling tickets, all in the hopes that her self-propelled dream would continue to grow.  Whether it moved  directly or via detour, how the song might end, or what famous faces would appear in her Philly show crowd, Holly wouldn’t know until long after the lights went down at that first ever East Coast gig.  The next turn in her journey, like that in a jam, was not something anyone could fully forecast back then, and it remains that way today.  She’s still writing the roadmap, transcribing the sound, distilling the dream as it spontaneously woos, wheezes, and breathes.

THE GIRL WHO CRIED POTTY

One day we were driving
When Sister yelled, “Potty!”
So off-road Dad drove,
Then Sis whispered, “Nah. Sorry.”

One day Sis cried, “Potty!”
So Mom hit the brakes.
At the next gas station,
Sister giggled, “Nope. My mistake.”

Then one day Sis screamed, “Potty!”
This time Mom and Dad both said, no.
Only that time, we soon learned,
Sister really did have to go.

New Look at a Classic: “I HEART NY”

New to me are these regional spins on the iconic I HEART NY logo.  I saw them for the first time just recently, alongside even more takes in which the red image between the I and NY represented other aspects of the Empire State.

Though they obviously don’t use the words BUFFALO

FullSizeRender

or SARATOGA,

FullSizeRender[1]

to my mind these two renditions can’t help but explicitly represent those cities, and as such, they had me dreaming of an “explicitly” Albany version that would feature the profile of the Capital City’s most iconic building, The Egg.

iEGG_sketch

Apologies to the New York State Tourism Bureau if this was already present somewhere on the very billboard where I saw the official buffalo and horse images above. And if it wasn’t: get cracking on production of the “I Egg NY” merch! FOOTNOTE to THE EGG: I can’t put a number on how many times I saw this building in my life before the day I stood before it on assignment to direct a short film about a football player from Albany. That day, for the first time ever to me, The Egg looked like a football:  virtually the top of the Lombardi Trophy itself, tipped slightly and blown up a lot.

In all that I-Hearting I came across this fabulous story of the original logo, the remarkable designer who created it, and the interesting life that both man and art have led.  Definitely worth a read and/or listen, via the podcast 99% Invisible.

STROLLING THE $1 MILLION STAIRCASE: A Steller Story from Albany, NY

Due to the boundaries of conventional photography, it’s necessary to see the Grand Canyon in person if you want to have any real sense of it.  Even then, the limitations of the human eyeball and depth perception make it challenging to compute what exactly it is that’s before you.  The scale. The structure.  The origin story.  They combine to form something like nothing else, and so by definition, laying eyes on it is a moment for which you cannot be prepared.  Even as you’re looking at the Canyon, it’s hard to know where to direct your eyes first, next, or last.  The result can be a sort of dizzying rush of astonishment and adrenaline.

As man made things go, the $1 Million Staircase — located in the New York State Capitol Building in Albany, NY — sent my head into similar spaces.  Capturing a photograph that could successfully illustrate both the massiveness and nuance of the Stairs seemed impossible.  In an effort to instead take a series of mental snapshots, every neck contortion and eye swivel I could muster felt insufficient.  There was simply too much to the space, also referred to in Capitol parlance as The Great Western Staircase, to feel like I’d seen or digested it all.  To try and add it up as I walked it was to be transported into a real-life composite of MC Escher artwork, someplace at once concrete and impossible.

The Staircase is a singular sight with a remarkable story ; for someone interested in art, architecture, or history, it’s an absolute must-see.  And believe it or not, the tour is free ; not a bad deal for a look at something priceless that may just leave you speechless.

For a sneak peek and more on how the $1 Million Staircase came to be, read my Steller Story on it by clicking the photo below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 11.21.26 PM

To see The $1 Million Staircase inside the historic New York State Capitol Building via @StellerStories, click on the image above.

MULCH GULCH

Don’t wear a cute suit

if you go to Mulch Gulch,

wear the filthiest clothes that you own.

And don’t call for help

because friends never answer,

when calls from there light up their phone.

Bring a pitchfork for heavin’

and plan to be leavin’

wearing dirt from your ears to your feet.

Because down in the Gulch,

named after its Mulch,

the Dirtiness cannot be beat.

mulch_scooby_tagged

ZOINKS! – Scooby-Doo (above) wisely armors himself in a protective Mystery Machine-issue Hazmat suit while investigating the Notorious F.I.L.T.H. of Mulch Gulch. (Photo: PaC)

NO EXPRESSION

Working so hard
That his days had no end
Dear old Alex Zandle
Burned his candle at both ends.

He worked in his shop
Then outside he toiled
He used hammers, and griddles
And extractors for boils.

In every subject
He mastered his lessons,
Well, all except one,
The Subject of Expressions.

We learned that one day
When the poor chap looked tired
And after his physical state
We inquired.

“What say you, Alex,
Are you feeling alright?
Your breathing sounds sniffly
And your steps don’t look light.”

“Why thank you for asking!”
Said dear Alex Zandle,
“It seems this time I’ve
Burnt myself down the candle.

But you know what they say:
Drown a cold, parch a fever,
And soon you’ll be purring
Like a Golden Retriever.”

On his head cold, soon after,
He did get a handle
But a grip on Expressions
Still eludes Alex Zandle.

THE WAY YOU LAY THERE FLAT

One time Sinatra laughed so hard
He fell right off his chair,
Then looked up at the gathered crowd,
and said, “Ringy dingy, I don’t care

If your whole rooty tooty friends and family
See me here ;
Pop your cameras, if you please,
And keep a snapshot of my cheer.

Just be warned of one thing,
From Ol’ Blue Eyes on this deck,
If you’re nearby orchestrating
How you’ll tap dance on my neck:

Don’t yews guys get wise and think,
‘Hey look, he’s down, we’ve scored.
Finally an opportune time to
Go do something untoward!’

Rest assured that even laughing
On my back flat as a board
I can hold my own from here and be
The Chairman of the Floored.”

floored

For more inspiring photos from @HistoryInPics where I found this one, click above on the image of floored Frank.

SCOOP

Dad says what we got’s magic snow,
That somehow made our driveway grow,
That somehow made him say words that
He swears he doesn’t really know.

Dad says that each new inch that falls
Lengthens the driveway by ten feet,
That if we left right now, perhaps,
Some time next year we’d reach the street.

Dad says the thing we need most now
Is a summer-style-sun,
To melt some of this magic snow
And make our driveway a walkable one.

Mom says that sounds great but while we wait
A pass with the shovel may be in order.
Dad hears and looks nervous before blurting out,
“But I can’t! Don’t you know? I’m a magic snow hoarder!”

scoop_drivewaypic_edit

CHRISTMAS EVE EVE

It’s Christmas Eve Eve

it’s time to decide

On which side of “Naughty or Nice”

You reside.

I’ve minded the ledger

for three-sixty-three

to know which stockings to fill

and which to leave empty.

By today for most people

it’s perfectly clear,

but for some tomorrow

will decide their whole year.

For those still “TBD”

(and you know who you are)

perhaps take this last chance

to shine like a star,

To be grateful and generous

thoughtful and kind,

more orange-soda-sweet

than old-lemon-rind.

You say it’s too late?

Rest assured that’s not true.

Each tomorrow’s a new chance

To make a better you.

So on Day Three-Six-Four of this year,

here’s the trick:

Be nice.  Tip the scales.  You’ll be glad.

Signed, St. Nick.

rockwell_santa

This, one of my favorite Norman Rockwell covers was published on December 16, 1939.
For more of Rockwell’s classic Christmas images, click here.

INTENTION DEFICIT, DISORDER

Mom by accident I put your make-up on.

Accidentally I moved the plunger in the car from in the john.

By accident I got turpentine on the ceiling fan.

Somehow I found a way to melt papayas in the van.

How all of this happened I wish I could tell you more

But I can’t escape my room, there’s gobs of gum in the lock on the door.

Why yes, you’re right it happened accidentally, of course!

GOLD, FRANKINCENSE, AND MICHAEL McDONALD*

A Wise Man travelled
From Orient-are
Upon his arrival
He stopped in a bar.

On the stool beside him
Sat a Young Fool,
Short on knowledge of life,
If an expert in school.

The Fool talked a lot
Once their chat began,
He told the Wise Man
Of His “Full Proof Life Plan.”

“It may not be that easy,”
the smiling Wise Man said,
“Just do your best.
And you’ll have no cause to dread.”

“Of course I won’t, man!
This Plan is the best.
Feel free to borrow it.
Go ahead, be my guest!”

They went back and forth
And soon it was clear
To the Wise Man that this
Debate could go on years.

And that was a bummer
That no matter how wise
He was he couldn’t open
This poor Young Fool’s eyes.

But then in the course
Of tuning him out
The Wise Man detected
Some sweet music about.

The harmony keys
At first drew him in
Then he heard the lyrics
And they made him grin.

Their message was timely
And an inspiration
To a man full of wisdom
But not beyond frustration:

“What a Fool believes
a Wise Man has no power
to reason away.”
It made sweetness from sour.

This genius musician
His magical words.
The wisest thing, maybe,
The Wise Man had ever heard.

The song lifted his mood,
Made him feel alright.
From then on he didn’t care
If the Fool babbled all night.

No more was there pressure
To change his silly views.
“What this Fool believes,” he thought,
“That’s on him. Not you.

You’re a Wise Man with no
More power to reason
With this Fool than you have
To alter the seasons.”

This lesson from an
Invisible pop star
Was one he took home
That night from the bar:

What a Fool believes?
Not your problem, don’t fret.
There’s no reasoning with him.
At least, there’s never been yet.

*Both McDonald and Kenny Loggins have the songwriting credit on the Doobie Brothers classic linked above that inspired this story.  The assist goes to Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior, Kings though not Doobies.  

makE no mistakE

A-I-O and-U agree
in their eternal love for E,
that vitamin that helps the vowels
sound like who they be.

When a mat needs a mate
or a lobe comes from a lob,
when the slim become slime
that’s ol’ E on the job.

Who can make a rat rate?
can make a shin shine?
can make a hug huge?
or make a fin fine?

E looks like an afterthought
tacked there on the tail
but without E on occasion
the vowels self-esteem might fail.

So when tin must be a tine
When a lug must luge
When a pin need be pine
just one letter will do.

EvidEncE – Except in baseball, Es are tremendously helpful.

DAYS CRAZE

Some days I want a hammock
Some days I want a smock
Some days I can find all the keys
Some days I lose the lock.

Some days I’m good at sleeping
Some days I cannot rest
Some days I know the answers
Some, I forget the test.

Some days I’m dreaming big
Some days I read fine print
Some days my eyes are clear
Some, they have their own tint.

Some days feel different at the start
Some days feel much the same
Some days I take too seriously
Some too much like a game.

Some day I’ll reminisce about
Some days and how they were spent.
Some days I won’t recall by then,
When I’m wondering where all of’em went.

shemcreek_edit

SUNSET – Shem Creek, SC

METS BRAIN FEVER

Hey, Mets.
Go? Let’s.
Hit’em long,
Throw’em strong,

Leather, flash,
Bases dash,
Play ball,
All fall.

So Mr. Met
Must never fret,
Think magic numbers & old tricks,
Like Sixty-Nine & Eighty-Six.

If fortunes stray,
For miracles pray
When hope is nada,
Believe, ya’ gotta,

Yes, Mets.
Get it, let’s:
A pennant pretty,
New for Citi.

Then stay sound,
From the mound,
The rubber, toed,
The batters, mowed,

The flames dealt,
The lineups melt.
That’s how it’s been
When it’s amazin’:

Gems hurled,
To the Series, World,
Cool as Vlassic
In the Classic.

Show no quit
In the books, put it.
Not a bit of fade,
‘Till there’s a parade.

Woo-hoo,
Orange and blue,
Make a scene
Out in Queens

End our wait
To celebrate
Yo, Mets.
Go! Let’s!

cone_edit

STILL HAVE my David Cone autographed 8×10 glossy, purchased at a baseball card show (what are those?!?) circa 1990. I can recall hearing on the radio that he’d been traded to the Blue Jays in August ’92. I was crushed.

While I can’t express as eloquently as others have the emotional roller-coaster of being a former die-hardI am very much in their tent when it comes to the New York Mets.  They were my first irrational sports love, and since then, have remained one of the teams that occupies a permanent place inside me.  Admittedly, and without shame, I’d call my Met fandom today a fraction of what it once was.  Now when I cheer, out of respect for the every day, pavement pounding, orange-and-blue collar fans, I cheer quietly ; in the same way many Catholics describe their faith, I say I’m lapsed.  But I also contend, as evidenced by the sporadic but unmistakeable ways that it surfaces every so often, that my Met-love won’t ever completely be gone.  Which is why since they won the National League last night for the 3rd time in my lifetime, only their fifth pennant in 53 seasons, I’ve had Mets on the brain, dripping in bits and bursts into a notebook and then above. Somethings, when you learn them young enough, simply become a part of you.  They might fade like the snapshots in Back to the Future (sorry, Cubs fans), but in time, the real stuff always returns.

A SON-OF-ALBANY STORY, CO-STARRING MY DAD

PROLOGUE – Following is a behind-the-scenes account of my recent short film on a fellow Son of Albany, Charles Leigh.  He made history as the first player known to sign an NFL contract directly out of high school, before becoming part of the Miami Dolphins Dynasty of the 1970s.  This summer I had the privilege of telling his story for NFL Films Presents.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.28.17 PM

LOGUE – Below is the second part of the written story originally published on the NFL Films blog, “They Call it Pro Football.”  To see the piece there, where it includes a slideshow of production photos and a link to a Charles Leigh highlight video consisting of footage discovered during the making of the film, click here.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.30.04 PM

EPILOGUE – During our July, 2015 shoot in my hometown, I brought my Dad to work.  Actually, I needed him to drive me to locations, so it’s probably more accurate to say that he brought me to work.  Either way, it all felt somewhat prophetic come fall when I learned the Leigh feature, previewed in the Albany Times-Union, would premiere as part of an episode titled “Fathers and Sons”.

 

O. bOy

To be like
the letter O,
around and around
you must go.

pano_shore

Turn all day
but corners resist,
like a gyroscope-dreidel-top
let spinning persist.

pano_palace

Then when a donut
Is in your looking glass –
Holey Hula-hoop, you’ve made it! –
You’re an O at last.

pano_thatch

Pan-O-Ramas, from Top:
The Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ ;
The Palace Theater, Albany, NY ;
John Boyd Thatcher State Park ; Voorheesville, NY ;
Photos: PaC

BOBBER

Dear old Johnny Corkforbrains

Was “Bobber” to his friends.

He loved to float ideas but

Didn’t always think through the ends.

He thought, “A Tin Man suit would shine

In a Halloween lightning storm!”

Thought he needed to speak French

To listen to French Horns.

Thought “Swap that sugar in for salt,

They both look the same!”

Thought “What could be so different

Between a wild horse and a tame?”

The meanings and looks of things and words

Into the Bobber never sunk

That’s why he claimed that chocolate chips

Were related to chipmunks.

But despite his errors, he was a nice fella’,

So nobody complained

About sweethearted simpleminded Bobber,

Aka, Johnny Corkforbrains.

“If there was a bottle, yo’, I’ll stop it.” – Mantra, J.C.f.B (Photo by PaC)