Hudson River Chronicles: In Search of the Splendid & Sublime on America's 'First' River
By Richard J. Friswell
The year is 1825, and a young, ambitious Englishman has arrived in burgeoning New York City, at the auspicious moment of the opening of Erie Canal. Thomas Cole is an artist, with skills he spent years mastering. In a nation of immigrants and upstarts, his challenge is to navigate through a complex, tight-knit community of emerging artists, hide-bound critics and wealthy patrons, searching for ways to support his dream. There are other obstacles, as well: a new nation still tied to Old World values; a dependent father’s failing business ventures; and his own recurring periods of faltering self-confidence, loneliness and melancholy.
In this work of historical fiction, the author reads ‘between the lines’ of Cole’s many journals, letters and essays, to reanimate the essence of the man, his motivation, inspiration and travels, given the harsh realities of city and country life in the early 19th century.
In a more contemporary context, the author explores the same Hudson River valleys, towns and surrounding mountains that Cole would have known. The region’s timeless allure for both travelers—stories separated by nearly two centuries—offer new perspectives on the life and times of the “Father of the Hudson River School” of painting; and that of a fellow, modern sojourner, drawn as Cole was, to the splendor of America’s ‘first’ river.
* * * * *
“The Hudson, for natural magnificence is unsurpassed. What can be more beautiful than the lake-like expanses of Tapaan [sic] and Haverstraw as seen from the rich orchards of the surrounding hills? What can be more imposing than the precipitous Highlands, whose dark foundations have been rent to make a passage for the mighty river? The lofty Catskills stand afar off; [and] recede like steps by which we may ascent to a great temple. The Rhine has its castled crags [but] the Hudson has its wooded mountains and an unbounded capacity for improvement by art.”
~Thomas Cole, lecture published in Northern Light (1841)
Order on AMAZON - Paperback, 270 pages, 110 color and B&W illustrations: $35.95
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A radiant and unforgettable story of second chances
Devastated after two disappointing love relationships in London, Emma Now meets the adventurous Vernon Stiles, a childhood flame from Quarrytown. He pursues her to Beauport, Massachusetts, and to stay near her he joins the fishing community alarmed by renegade trawling in the Georges Bank. Eventually he convinces her that love is possible. Working as an art historian at the Hollister Foundation, Emma discovers the unknown sculptures of Joseph Kerner, who is accused of pederasty. After dealing with the outrage of the community, rejection by Lucille Hollister, and the threat of ultimate loss, Emma reconstructs her life to save Kerner's art for posterity and start a new life with the prospect of true love and a life of adventure.
355 PAGES $14.95 To order a copy click on the cover.
The opening of a piece of literary fiction centered on the unforgettable Emma Now. This is a novel about second chances and the discovery of self.
LONDON DECEMBER 2009
THE RAIN SMEARED EMMA’S vision of the street below into an impression of dark umbrellas dancing between the headlamps of passing cars.
The suddenness of her reflection surprised her.
Tony was almost dressed
“You’ll shock the neighbors,” he said.
“No one can see me.” Emma kissed him, then let him go.
The room was quiet and dark. As she dressed, she was glad that the secrecy was over. Tony was leaving Vivien.
At first it was all unreal, but somehow, despite trying not to fall in love, and trying not to wreck his marriage, she knew they became something different and something more than when they first made anxious love.
She felt passion again. It had been too long since she felt this way..
BACK COVER TEXT FOR THE PATRIOT
Three remarkable characters, overcoming devastating injuries, find love and renewal during World War II seeking redemption for a nation that has lost its moral direction. Challenging a warrior culture that drafts its youth into misbegotten wars, The Patriot acknowledges our debt to heroes struggling to find meaning in a world drawn inexorably to war. Ed Cronin, returning home to the corruption and brutality of the New York waterfront, finds his life’s purpose joining Father John Corridan, the Waterfront Priest’s fight for reform --- George Williams --- an anti-war Activist --- dies advocating a world without war --- and Helen Christian --- a compassionate Army Nurse --- is almost destroyed by the savage pity of war --- the loss of so many young boys. The Patriot is a wonderfully written story of the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit confronted by overwhelming fate. An inspiring tale about the true meaning of patriotism.
THE PATRIOT is a wonderfully written paean of praise to the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming odds. Norman Weissman provides his physically and psychologically wounded men and women with a distinctive voice as they cope with finding love and life during World War II. His characters possess remarkable courage in dealing with devastating injuries and wartime experience that might overwhelm most people. His depiction of war, based on real events, some heroic, and others, like the Philippine Death March, horribly brutal, still others, farcically absurd, if they were not so tragic. His characters, heroes in every sense of the word, seek redemption for a nation that has lost its moral direction, perhaps even its soul. One hero, returning from home to the corruption and brutality of the New York waterfront where he grew up, takes up the improbable fight to reform it, while another of his wounded warriors challenges America's penchant for feeding its eighteen year old youths into the maw of misbegotten wars. THE PATRIOT engraves on the nation we have become, our debt to a wartime generation that struggled to find meaning amidst the wreckage of a world drawn inexorably to war.
Archivist, Yale University (1970-1982) Librarian, Widener Library Harvard University (1982-1998)
140 PAGES $14.95 TO ORDER THIS BOOK CLICK ON THE COVER
This collection of essays frames the idea of emotional risk and reward in the context of everyday events. The world beckons us to embrace the unexpected and extraordinary, from a planet-laden evening sky to a high speed taxi ride in New York. The reader is invited on a series of personal, exploratory journeys--some real-world, others philosophical--beyond the realm of the expected. Our 'balancing act' is to hone our powers of observation and engagement in a world full of wonder. This collection of essays frames the idea of emotional risk and reward in the context of everyday events. The world beckons us to embrace the unexpected and extraordinary, from a planet-laden evening sky to a high speed taxi ride in New York. The reader is invited on a series of personal, exploratory journeys--some real-world, others philosophical--beyond the realm of the expected. Our 'balancing act' is to hone our powers of observation and engagement in a world full of wonder.
180 PAGES $12.95 To order this book click on the cover.
"The Prodigy is Norman Weissman's hilarious portrayal of a young runaway whose sojourn across America pits youthful innocence against the vagaries of people,regions, and beliefs in a bygone era before the second World War. This is an allegory, a secular Pilgrim's Progress that pays subtle homage to Mark Twain and John Steinbeck and reveals unexpected truths from encounters with improbable characters and events that will keep you guessing about who is being parodied. The Prodigy traverses a landscape reflecting the generosity and greed, openness and prejudice, love and hatred that defines the richness of our American experience."
Larry Dowler, Archivist, Yale University (1970-1982)
Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University (1982-1998)
In 1934 when dance marathons and flag pole sitting diverted attention from the anxieties of the Great Depression, a fifteen year old boy wearing a backpack and sun hat roller skating along US6 appeared to be just another destitute wanderer sleeping in barns, haystacks and roadside campsites. A vagabond roaming our land looking for work and a better future. Years later, in 1980 when Emiliano Dante was living in Brooklyn and commuting to Manhattan he saw that boy, now an old man standing under the stairs of a subway station where the tracks ran elevated above the street.
He was now a street musician playing the violin for nickels dimes and quarters dropped into the violin case at his feet. Winter or summer, rain or shine, he performed for commuters who stopped to hear such popular favorites as Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair, None But The Lonely Heart and Flight of The Bumblebee. Every afternoon, before the evening rush hour provided a new audience, he left the station to play in apartment courtyards where lonely housewives leaned out their windows to applaud and occasionally throw down coins.
He seemed heroic and tragic, a musician surviving hard times. Dante complimented his performance. He nodded a thank you and asked the name of his favorite composer.
These stories take us behind the scenes in Hawaii, where women struggle to keep
track of their men, where tourists try to understand how history can be ignored
by the young, where young Hawaiians learn how to cope with demands that seem
as unexpected as they really are. These are stories of triumph, of mystery, of an
exploration of the spiritual realities that exist in a paradise of splendor. They are
as surprising as the land itself, as unlikely as Waimea, and as earthy as
Hanapepe. From Wakiki to Kaui, from the treacherous beaches of Hanalei to the
astounding magnificence of Waimea Canyon, from the elegance of The Ritz, to
the simplicity of the whale boats in Lahaina, from Princeville to the Kilauea
caldera, these stories move us into Hawaii's deep heart's core.
210 pages. $15.95.
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They sat looking out on the harbor from Wharf Street. It was their last evening in Lahaina, and the sun would touch the ocean in less than an hour. Their ritual was the same each evening. Ignacio sent down to the bar for a Russian Lady for Holly, and a Hurricane Rum for himself.
Keezu Breen, who was back from his early shift on the Sea Horse doubled as bartender and waiter. He mounted the stairs carefully, but loudly, as if he wanted to be sure they knew he was coming.
“The usual,” Keezu said with a grin, giving them each their drink..
Ignacio gave him a tip. “The whales running today?”
“Same old, same old,” Keezu said. “We saw a couple this morning. Pereira’s bringing the Sea Horse in soon, couple of minutes maybe. Maybe he was luckier. It’s like they’re hiding this week. Last week we almost took one on the bow. This week, like they’re under cover.”
“You’re not afraid one of them will do a Moby Dick on your boat?”
“Boat’s pretty solid.”
“They hit you much?”
“Once or twice they just splash us, or maybe touch, but not hitting. They like to play.”
MY EXUBERANT VOYAGE recounts what Norman Weissman learned during fifty years of filming at home and overseas. The author clarifies what happened when our country coped with wars, depression and the Civil Rights Movement. From Mississippi to Moscow, from Beijing to Brooklyn, from Paris to Prague, this memoir affirms that our nation will someday realize Lincoln's vision of America as “The Last Best Hope For Man on Earth.”
The idea that the more things seem to change the more they remain the same has been confirmed by personal experience. From the Great Depression of my childhood to September 11, 2001 catastrophic events have left our nation fundamentally unchanged. America's courage, productivity, freedom and democratic character are as resilient as the Pyramids.
However the belief emerging from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, and dominating our media, that from this day forward everything will be different, ignores our country's remarkable ability to survive the disasters of war and peace with democratic institutions and national character intact.
Also unchanged are the world's intractable problems. The root causes of International Terrorism. Overpopulation, hunger, disease and illiteracy have never been substantially alleviated by dedicated Idealists who are called unrealistic do-gooders or bleeding hearts.
Creating a better World is a dream viewed as hopeless by Realists with little faith in Man's ability to change. Human frailty, Realists insist, determines the circumstances of human life and to change Man's essential nature is impossible.
The eternal conflict between Idealists and Realists determined many critical choices. Such decisions as choosing One World or None. A choice emerging from the bloodbaths of two World Wars leading to the establishment of the United Nations at a time when such idealism was applauded and not disparaged by congress or the media. Hopefully, to paraphrase President Lincoln, the UN will someday prove to be the last best hope for Man on earth.
Benjamin A. Cohen, a 1950 recipient of the One World Statesmanship Award and Assistant Secretary General for the UN's Department of Public Information passionately believed in mankind's infinite possibilities of change. His faith in the United Nations' ability to change the dire circumstances of underdeveloped countries emerged from his childhood in Chile where he witnessed all the tragic problems of "Third World" nations. He focused the UN's search for a solution to conditions that were not just abstractions cited in the UN's Charter, but grim realities to be confronted and changed.
The off-screen life of a stand in begins to mirror that of the iconic movie star whom she resembles physically. A struggling actor uses his skills to pay the rent working for a phone sex provider. An old man confronts what he sees as the betrayal of his best friend. A former actress, now forgotten, gets one more chance at immortality. A young husband, who has traded his chance for success as a musician for a more stable life, deals with the consequences of his choice. These and the other characters in this riveting collection offer a compassionate inside look at a place rightly called a dream factory.
It’s very awkward not being able to tell people where you work. When anyone asks me I make up something, but, as my grandmother used to say, a liar has to have a good memory, and I’ve had a couple of embarrassing moments when I’ve answered that question for one person in the presence of another to whom I’d previously lied. People out here are always asking you if you’re working, and if you say yes they ask you what you’re doing. It’s one thing or should I say one of the many things that I hate about Hollywood.
Actually it’s my choice not be truthful about my job. I’ve got a reason. I’m ashamed of it. I took the job at a time when I was desperate for money. I know a lot of people are, but I’m talking real desperation. First of all my rent was due, ten days overdue to be exact. My landlord, whose last name is Schmuck, so help me God I’m telling the truth, is not a nice person, and when money’s involved he gets worse, like he becomes a son of a bitch. He hates actors which is kind of inconvenient in a town where every third person calls him or herself one, as I do. That isn’t what I’m ashamed to tell people. When I work as an actor I brag about it. Most actors do.
Anyway, besides the rent being overdue I was behind two payments on each of my three credit cards, and they were charged up to the limit, so I couldn’t borrow from one to pay on the others which I had been doing until, as my grandmother used to say, the chickens came home to roost. In addition to the credit card mess I was in, the brakes on my car were shot, and my dentist was telling me I had to have a root canal or risk major infection. I guess that’s enough to make my point about being desperate.
I heard about the job, the one I do now that I’m ashamed of, from my friend Trini. Trini is a transsexual or I guess you’d say a semi-transsexual, since she’s had her breasts enlarged but not the other part done. She claims she can’t afford it but I suspect, and I have no way to prove it, that she just isn’t ready the make that strong a commitment. I met her a couple of years ago when we were waiting on tables in a ribs place in Culver City, and I assumed she was, for want of a better phrase, a natural woman. She was small and cute with pretty dark curly hair and smooth skin. One night after work we went out for a few beers and got a little loaded. It was then that she told me about having a penis. I’ve lived in this town for a while now, and I’ve been around the block a few times if you know what I mean, but I almost shit when I heard that. I wasn’t sexually attracted to her, thank God, but it still required a lot of adjustment on my part in terms of the way I related to her. For example I’m a person who likes to touch people. I put my arm around them and hug them and kiss them on the cheek a lot. Most people in show business do that. I’m not one of those guys who wants to have sex with every woman he meets, but even if you don’t want to have sex with them you touch women differently from the way you touch men. After Trini told me she had a dick I didn’t know how to touch her. If I caressed her the way I might caress a woman I’d picture it there between her legs, and it disconcerted me. On the other hand if I threw my arm around her shoulder or shook hands with her the way I might with a male if felt strange. I just stopped touching her altogether. If she noticed it she never said anything.
Oh Palestine, “A passionate and powerful story that shines a light on the futility of the endless use of violence to achieve anything, as violence begets more violence. A work of intellectual and emotional power relevant and timeless in its story and spirit. A wonderful book." Forrest Stone, MFA. Playwright. Yale School of Drama. Author
MITLA PASS, SINAI DESERT, JUNE 1967
One two-two-three-four! What a fucking way to fight a war! declared graffiti scrawled on a five-mile line of burned-out tanks littering Mitla Pass, a military junkyard containing the remains of an army fleeing a lost cause. A grotesque reminder of Man’s ability to destroy amidst the daunting beauty of Sinai’s relentless sands. Only the wind and sun now rule over a battlefield where the dead remain the unburied trash of combat. Baruch Lev, nauseated by the odor of rotting flesh, fighting the cold of a desert night, suppressed his wish to be somewhere else. Like it or not, after three wars, he had more killing to do. A duty that dry-rots the soul. Climbing to the crest of a sand dune three miles south of Mitla, Baruch Lev reconnoitered tomorrow’s Body Count. There below him, bivouacked in a dry riverbed, a demoralized Egyptian battalion dug in beneath their stalled half-tracks unaware their fox holes would soon contain corpses blackened by the sun. Vultures circling overhead would soon dive down to consume the bloated remains of Fellaheen abandoned by craven Generals fleeing catastrophe.
A glowing charcoal fire provided little warmth to the Egyptians chilled by the wind. At the half-track, shouting into a microphone, the Battalion Commander’s voice echoed desperation. Unable to contact anyone, he shouted a vulgar Arabic curse, turned from the half-track and walked off into the shadows leaving behind the murmured prayers of demoralized men. Clouds scudded across the sky covering the moon. Wind-driven whispering sands filled the silence of a starless night. A quiet foreboding awaited dawn as the radio’s hand-cranked generator slowly ceased its agonized whine as if mourning the dead. At sunrise, Baruch Lev would feel no pride killing untrained conscripts.
The Egyptian officer walked out of the Wadi climbing the dune’s steep slope. Tall, wearing a worn khaki tunic, he was a Conscript. A young University student with his first command. No professional soldier would shelter his men in a Wadi death-trap. At sunrise, attacking with machine guns and mortars, Baruch Lev’s Battalion would slaughter untrained demoralized peasants fleeing destruction. For six days Israeli tanks raced ahead of the Egyptians surrounding entire Divisions. A textbook Cannae. Hannibal defeating the Romans. Lessons ignored by Generals intoxicated by the rhetoric of Islamic supremacy, fantasies dissolved by Blitzkrieg.
The Officer unbuckled his belt, pistol and holster falling to the ground. Straightening his cap, buttoning his tunic, he stepped forward, out of the dark. Young. Brave. And lost. Betrayed by incompetent leadership his men discarded weapons, abandoned fuel-starved tanks fleeing in a contagion of defeat, shedding illusions of glory and dreams of driving Israelis into the sea.
“Stop where you are,” Baruch Lev shouted. The officer halted, turned to locate the voice, peering into the night from under a sweat-stained garrison cap.
“I want to surrender,” the Egyptian said, stamping a boot into the sand. Shoulders back. Head high. Waiting for a reply that would be salvation. “What is your situation?” Baruch Lev asked as he approached the Egyptian. “Three days without fuel or water. Lost contact with our headquarters,” he said, raising both arms in surrender. His war was over. Glad to be alive without showing the shame of defeat.
“How many are you?”
“Fifty Conscripts. Illiterate Fellaheen. Hardly able to load their guns.” The Egyptian stepped forward, stamped one boot on the ground and raised his hand in a stiff military salute. A Warrior on Parade.
“Where were you going?” Baruch Lev asked. “I’m not sure,” the Egyptian said. “I hope to find someone to accept our surrender.”
“Do your men agree?”
“Will they obey orders?”
“Yes,” the Egyptian said, his voice breaking. Removing his cap he nodded, saying, “All they want is to go home.”
“Don’t we all,” Baruch Lev said, his voice softening.
Crown Island, the most beautiful of the Granite Islands ranging out from Quarrytown, a harbor community in Connecticut, is the magical world of Marie Wainwright and Peter Chello. Their love defies their differences in class, status, age, and culture. They are fated by the Gods to follow a challenging path. While married to others, they keep their love alive for thirty years. Marie, who has always lived on Crown Island, brings a world of knowledge to Peter, while Peter brings the muse back to her after the loss of her family. Marie's novels become celebrated and Peter, an artistic stonemason and builder, discovers a richness in life that could never have been his had he not fallen in love with Marie. His path leads him to an understanding of how to share the gifts of love and life that he receives from his Idyll on Crown Island while staying true to his roots and his affection for Quarrytown. An adult story in an adult novel.
April 3, 1971
T o the people of Quarrytown Marie Wainwright was an
enigma. She lived on Crown island alone, the last of her
family, a celebrity who kept mostly to herself, but still a
youthful and beautiful woman.
Peter Chello talked with her several times since he
dropped out of the University, and each time she surprised him
because of her warmth and her interest in his work. Others who
worked on the island over the years found her mystifying, and
brusque. But since her husband and daughters had drowned,
people became more charitable. They saw her now as more brave
than distant. She had been dealt a cruel hand by the gods, and
even those in Quarrytown with reason to feel resentful softened
and spoke of her kindly.
When she hired him to replace her granite pier head and
slate walkway, she sat him down in the Quarrytown Café and
talked for more than an hour about the beauties of life on Crown
Island, the way the light played on the water, the way the trees
would soon be in bloom, the way the Granite Islands sat like a
stately convoy reaching toward Long Island. There was poetry
everywhere one looked, she said. And as they spoke Peter felt
that she was not just talking with an employee, a stonemason
from a family of stonemasons. She was talking with someone
who understood the poetry of a beautiful vision. He knew just
what she meant, but until now he’d never had anyone he could
talk with about the beauty of the harbor.
On his first day he nosed past Kidd’s Island, around the
rocks where cormorants sat at low tide, until he began the
approach on the south side of Crown Island. Then he saw the
white house large and solid, with a fine verandah, two brick
chimneys, and a widow’s walk between them. Not far from the
dock sat the sailboat from which her husband and children were
thrown. The Petrel had not been back in the water for years. He
thought he’d never see it again.
He beached his skiff in the sand and examined the steps
leading up from the pier, then went to the door, but no one
answered. All he heard was muffled barking. Where could she
be? He thought for a moment of the calamities in her life. She
had written her first book, The White Wraith, about her
parents’ death in a plane crash and her second, On an Island of
Hope, after her family died. What was she writing now?
Back at the pier someone was swimming in the dark
water toward him. All he saw at first were splashes of white, but
soon Marie turned her face to breathe and then reached for the
lowest step. She emerged like Venus, dripping a tumult of water.
She wore a stark white bathing suit and a white cap that she
peeled off, shaking the excess water on the stones. Her dark hair
flowed around her shoulders as she greeted him.
“I wanted to get my swim in,” she said with a smile.
He hardly had the presence of mind to say hello. She was
intensely beautiful in this morning light.
“There’s a towel down there.” She pointed toward the
stone seat behind him. “You’re very sweet to come out today,”
she said taking it from him. He watched her dry herself and wrap
the towel around her shoulders. “I’ve been putting off fixing
these stairs for years. I hope it’s not too late.”
I've know Bill Kelly for many years, and, until now, I've always considered him a reasonably stable and sane kind of guy. Then I read his book. What he has done is take the standard noir detective story of the Forties and Fifties(ala Raymond Chandler), locate it heaven and hell, borrow characters from Hamlet, silent movies, and "The Godfather", add pagan gods and heroes, the plots of Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", and drench the whole mixture with a heavy dose of satire. He also provides a coterie of characters of his own invention such as Lance Petard, head of heaven's movie studio and keeper of the pet basilisk of the title.
His heaven is populated with the usual biblical characters, echelons of archangels, saints and such, but also with Hell's Angels (who earned entry by bringing toys to tots), mafiosos, and England's worst poet. Hell is ruled by Lucifer, who prefers to be called Bob.
The whole conceit runs on a plot wherein Colonel Stuckey, head of security in heaven, connives with Bob to displace God and put Bob in his place. The hero, Roscoe Duffy a retired police detective, recruits an assortment of angels and deceased souls to oppose Bob and the Colonel.
By now, perhaps, you can see this book is the work of an imagination running delightfully amok. It is also a hoot to read. I hope Kelly gets to write another one before they lock him up.
Donald D. Bowen
Astral travel to the afterlife by two retired cops begins a tale that is both a ciffhanger and comic opera. After a lackluster career as a detective, Benny Spielmacher disappears during an impulsive astral journey to Heaven in search of inspiration for a musical version of Paradise Lost. His former partner, Roscoe Duffy, risks the deadly perils of Chaos to find him, and the two soon find themselves in a life-and-death struggle to defeat a colossal conspiracy that threatens God Himself. To complicate matters, Roscoe falls in love with the late Rose Trautman and must figure out how to conduct an affair with a dead woman. In this witty romp through Heaven and Hell, the damned get limited air conditioning, a college education, and virtual sex. Those in heaven create virtual domains to suit their heart’s desire, and share Paradise with mafia dons, crackpots, villains, literary characters, and pagan gods and their monsters. The Basilisk Solution serves up mystery, mayhem and belly laughs as once-mediocre gumshoes finally become the heroes they always wanted to be.
Bad things happened to Roscoe Duffy when it rained. His potbellied pig got killed by a pit bull. He broke his left leg when his new sneakers slipped on wet leaves. Last week, a storm-blown tree crushed his 1996 Volvo. He had come to dread wet weather.
Now, his burly frame slumped in the back of a cab, he was traveling through rain to respond to a frantic call from Lotti Spielmacher. Her brother, Benny, was in trouble. She was too distraught on the phone to be very coherent, but Roscoe had a bad feeling he knew exactly what kind of trouble. He and Benny had been partners on the Lake City police force before they retired.
Roscoe vainly tried to push aside his awful certainty that rain always brought him bad luck. Deep in his heart he knew the spritzing he was getting through an uncloseable gap in the right rear window was a foretaste of bad things to come.
He tucked his chin into the upturned collar of his raincoat just as the Pakistani cabby suddenly turned onto the wrong thruway. Roscoe shouted several times to get the driver’s attention and then struggled to make him understand the route he should be taking. By now his raincoat was uncomfortably damp. Here we go again.
The cab finally let him off in front of the yellow-brick apartment building where Benny shared a condo with his sister. The building dated to the 1920s, when large rooms with mahogany woodwork gave young couples affordable space for raising a family and entertaining with a bit of style. It somehow survived the wrecking balls that broke the neighborhood down to electronics marts shuttered at night with accordion steel fencing, narrow bars with drink specials, Asian fast-food, and balloon graffiti.
Lotti answered the door. She was in her late forties, short, with a round face pulled tight by a spinsterish bun. She wore a black sweater over pendulous breasts, and green slacks stretched to their limit across her broad thighs. Years ago a rabbi had courted her but she had ended that relationship for reasons never revealed. Lotti had never warmed to Roscoe. A drinking buddy at the Galway Bay suggested she saw him as a rival for Benny’s affection. That’s possible, he thought. Or maybe she thought a divorced guy was a bad influence on her bachelor brother.
Without even a "hello," she led him to a large living room with a faded oriental rug. Theater posters and photographs of famous stage actors covered the walls. A History of the American Theater lay open on a worn leather couch, and beside it, a book entitled Play Production. Books on play directing, costuming, and set design were scattered on flanking leather chairs and piled next to a tarnished brass lamp on an end table. Benny’s suppressed desire to produce a Broadway show blossomed into a mania after he retired. With an eye to economy, he focused on works that were out of copyright. Thus far he had had no luck with proposals and solicitations. No one showed the slightest interest in making a musical of Pilgrim’s Progress, or staging a modern version of The Golem. The only financial backing offered him so far had been five dollars from an elderly secretary in a producer’s office who misconstrued his pitch for Lost Horizons: The Musical as a solicitation for a home for runaway girls. Despite the rejections, Benny was optimistic. Tomorrow was another day. Tomorrow he would find that one backer who loved his proposal and would bankroll the whole thing.
At the moment, he looked as though he were auditioning for the part of a corpse. He sat in a rocking chair facing the television set, dressed in his walk-about clothes: plaid pants, a yellow shirt under strain from his ample belly, a blue nylon warm up jacket, and a Yankee cap that covered his bald crown. The cap also concealed the lump Roscoe put there with a rubber mallet two days earlier. Benny’s head tilted back against the chair, his eyes closed, his hands cradled limply in his lap. Only the barely perceptible rise and fall of his chest showed he was alive.
Lotti’s voice quavered: “He’s been gone since yesterday,‛ she said. “He said he was going for just a few hours. I just know he has screwed up and can’t get back. Damn astral travel! Damn you for showing him how to do it!‛
A gripping novel dramatizing the truth that for every loss there can be a redeeming gain, enabling us to go on living. Steve Irwin, a struggling playwright, is devoted to his actress wife Helen. Because Helen is an alcoholic, she is forced to accept the loss of a promising career. Steve, accidentally shot by Helen, overcomes a paralysis of body and spirit through the love and compassion of Anne Bousquet, a nun who lost her vocation and returned to the world. This is the story of three people Finding the courage to overcome Failure in the broadway theater, The war in the pacific, and doing "God's work" at an isolated South American Mission where poverty, ignorance and disease are mortal enemies.
Steve Irwin reluctantly awoke from a restless sleep and looked about his unkempt room. The wall-mirror made him look dissolute. He had not lived as slovenly since bachelor days. He would be happy to have his wife home again. He sat propped against the headboard and looked out the window to see a brightly painted Tugboat pushing a string of overloaded Barges, cascades of tumbling waves and pounding Diesels fading as they moved downriver to New York, forty miles away.
Glancing at the sky he saw high Cirrus foretelling an approaching Front, and judging by scattered layers of Stratus clouds, today would be bright and clear. A good day for her homecoming. A good day to make a fresh beginning. A good day to start a marriage anew. The glare of the sun on the water created a ribbon of light flowing between the Highlands where the Fog Horn of a brick Lighthouse sounded its mournful tones long after the mist had burned away. Across the river the hills flowed together each hollow and curve delineated by the soft morning light. Watching scattered wisps of fog settle in the valley he could see windows on the far shore reflecting the sun as daylight erased shadows on the granite cliffs.
He had seen sunrise and observed the weather in a daily ritual originating so far back in his past he could not remember when he first began watching each new day reveal itself to his wondering childlike gaze. Dawn never failed to evoke feelings of awe and expectation. It pleased him to watch the sun illuminate the Palisades across the river before leaving his bed and stepping into the shower. A pleasant beginning. Watching the sun rise and then the feeling of hot water spreading down shoulders and back, thawing and stretching muscles, luxuriating in the penetrating heat. Yes, this was a good time, if not the best time of day, and, as he turned off the water and dried himself, he could feel his flesh come alive and he paused remembering that morning long ago when he awoke and for the first time his wife was beside him, a woman of such beauty he trembled as he watched her sleep, a trusting child, head resting on one arm, her tanned body sprawled under the sheets. It was all promise then. Expectation. Love beyond his wildest imaginings now within his grasp if somehow he would reach out and find the courage to commit himself. He smiled and hung the towel on the rack to dry. Who could predict the future of an adoring smile?
He dressed quickly, donning a sweater before walking to the garage. He had a habit of leaning forward, bursting with animal energy as he walked, the bounce and swing of his body creating an appearance of power and compactness that made him seem shorter than his true height. Hunching over the typewriter had rounded his shoulders, thickening the sinews of his neck and when he stepped from his desk at the end of the day stretching his aching muscles, he looked upon his work as an ordeal. To endure and perhaps achieve something out of no other materials but himself was no small ambition, and he had learned that writing was an exhausting profession that consumed all that he had ever felt, thought, or seen in a lifetime dredging-up from his mind and spirit, his daily bread.
SNAPSHOTS USA (An American Family Album), recreates the lives four Kent State students would have lived, had they lived. David Constant, a surviving classmate, and a lawyer, is a "Rememberer", one who can not forget; and haunted by his friend's tragedy, becomes obsessed thinking about their wasted lives. Four unquiet ghosts come alive in his tormented imagination, crying out for justice. Thirty years after their deaths David Constant seeks answers to how and why they were killed by questioning government authorities, faculty, students, and townspeople.His powerful and disturbing narrative reveals the enduring and destructive impact on their lives of what happened on May 4th 1970. His quest confronts readers with the complexity of the Truth that no one escaped the day's violence unharmed. Either in body or soul. Violent counter-
culture protests in conflict with a ruthless assertion of Law and Order, also climaxed on that day, and like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, May 4th, 1970 became an historic "turning point" shocking and transforming our image of who and what we are as a nation. SNAPSHOTS USA echoes another great American classic "Our Town" by providing a haunting, heartbreaking elegy for the Kent State fallen and the conscience of America. Norman Weissman has written a profound meditation on our history with a heart, a soul, and a face. Once started, it is a book impossible to put down.
The Governor loved Press Conferences. Enjoyed their intensity heated by blinding lights in overcrowded rooms. Pounding the table, waving his arms, his high-pitched voice welcomed the blinking red eye of the TV Camera and shouted questions by reporters shoving microphones in his face. With next week's Primary election hotly contested, today's statement could determine his political future.
Today's message was leadership. Showing voters he knew how to take command in a crisis. Master a problem in need of a Final Solution.
"Students are out to destroy higher education," he shouted, when asked why they were demonstrating. "They go from campus to campus terrorizing communities. Sniping at Police. They're worse than the Brownshirts or the Communist element or the KKK Night Riders or Vigilantes. They're the worst type of people we harbor in America. We're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant revolutionary group ever assembled in America...and we are going to eradicate this problem...not just treat the symptoms."
"And how will you do that?" a reporter asked.
Nodding to the officer at his side the Governor passed the question to the National Guard's Adjutant General.
"Ohio Law allows us to do anything that is necessary," the Adjutant General replied. "Use any force necessary, even to the point of shooting. That's what the Law says. Shoot if necessary."
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