Thursday, May 12, 2016


For those of you who don't follow it already,  Defenestration is a lively online humor magazine.  Check out their April issue--and in particular my short piece "Pitch Meeting: Election 2020: Running Mates":

Defenestration: April 2016 - Defenestration

Friday, April 22, 2016

Three Poems

You can find three of my poems--"Giving Up," "Flypaper," and "The Secret of her Pickles" in the latest issue of Badlands Literary Review--a literary magazine published by California State University San Bernardino Palm Desert's writing program.

Go to

and click on Issue 6, for a downloadable pdf

Why aren't the Berrymans famous?

Well, Peter and Lou Berryman are famous among folkies who've heard "A Chat With Your Mom"--better known as "The F Word Song."

But that's not enough of us to fill halls that hold thousands.

Lucky for us--and maybe for them.   We get to hear them in intimate venues--coffee houses,  church halls, etc.  They get to see their fans up close, meet them,  chat with them, stay with them.

Last weekend in Princeton,  perhaps a hundred of us got to hear them do an assortment of their terrific songs, old and new, including "Cheese and Beer and Snow," "Artiste Interrupted," "Your State's Name here," "Djver?" "You Gotta Do More," "When Did We Have Sauerkraut?" "Dupsha Dove," "Acme Forgetting Service," and one of my all-time favorites, "Why Am I Painting the Living Room?"

Once briefly married to each other, the Berrymans have been writing and performing together for decades.  Lou, who plays accordion, writes the music; Peter, on guitar, the lyrics.

Brilliantly original, deep, and clever views of our lives and times; usually funny, often satirical/political, sometimes touching, full of insight--their songs are like no one else's.  

On May 11, says their newsletter,  they'll be back home at:

Madison, WI  Olin Park Pavilion, Free Concert sponsored by Friends of Olin-Turville Park tables & chairs provided; bring a picnic!  6 - 8 PM  Rain or shine (or snow?)

Eighteen of their albums are available for download on their website, and they usually offer a free song or two as well:
Their Big Songbook is currently sold out, but they're updating it.  I can't wait!  And I can't wait for a chance to see their music-in-progress, More Later.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Talking Band's back!

The Talking Band just seems to keep getting better and better.  Each year, I end up saying their latest show may be their best yet--but, remembering Delicious Rivers (2006), The Walk Across America for Mother Earth (2011), and Marcellus Shale (2013), among others, I should qualify that as "one of their best."

Martin Luther King weekend through the first weekend in February seems to be one of the Talking Band's favorite times to bring us their latest.  This year, it's Burnished by Grief, which despite its name, is, as billed, a romantic comedy, albeit with some dark and scary passages amid the whimsy, romance, and slapstick.

Like last year's Golden Toad--the three-hour ambulatory wonder that the company gave us for their fortieth anniversary--it's a great show about New York City, deeply rooted in real life.  But in contrast to the Toad, Burnished by Grief whizzes by in 85 minutes, on a single set--a minimalist backyard garden overlooked by windows from adjacent buildings, and exercise bicycles within shouting distance of a street corner where a musician plays tuba.

It's inspired by playwright Ellen Maddow's experiences as a mediator in Brooklyn Civil Court, and as always in a Talking Band show, a few lovely, quirky songs and other music (also written by Maddow) add emotional resonance.

Though I try to see everything the Talking Band does, because of their limited seasons in New York, I sometimes miss a show.  I'm so glad I didn't miss this one.

Burnished by Grief is playing at LaMama, 74 East 4th Street, through February 7. 

For information go to:

Friday, January 22, 2016

A story set somewhere warmer than here

One of my more experimental short stories, "San Felipe but not Alone," can now be read online, in

Vector Magazine

Waiting for the storm

Back in the days when the only warnings of serious weather came shortly before the event from sky, air, or movements of animals, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote what may have been his masterwork, Snowbound: A Winter Idyll.

After a dedication-- 

To the Memory of the Household It Describes
This Poem is Dedicated by the Author

 --and quotations from Agrippa's Occult Philosophy and Emerson's poem "Snow Storm", the poem itself begins:

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.

Snowbound was published in 1866, soon after the Civil War and, with its vivid descriptions of a powerful storm and the contrasting warmth and intimacy of storytelling around the fireplace, proved hugely popular.

It was one of my favorite poems as a child, and these days its themes of memory, loss, and changing times mean much more to me than when I first read and loved it.  But it's been years since I read its many verses all the way through.

Tomorrow--as a storm blankets the East Coast with the kind of snow that may one day be only a distant memory--will be a good time to immerse myself in Snowbound once more. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Who's Your Baghdaddy?

Take an Iraqi con man with a good story looking to defect.  Add intelligence operatives, German and American, ready to hear it.  Mix with former UN weapons inspector who finds it echoes what he's sure is true. A US administration ready to act on it.  What do you get?  The war that got us where we are today.

Who's Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started the Iraq War--a brilliant political musical having to do with bizarre events that led to the Gulf War--proposes that some of those responsible have formed a support group to deal with their guilt. With excellent performances, a fine, rap-inflected score, and lively choreography, the show's as hilarious as it is disturbing.  Not surprising, given that director Marshall Pailet, who wrote the music and co-wrote the book (co-author A.D. Penedo wrote the lyrics), was the writer and director of the wonderful musical spoof Triassic Parq.

In this incarnation (at an intimate theater-in-the-oval at the Actors Temple Theater, 339 W. 47 St.), you have through this weekend to catch Who's Your Baghdaddy?  I trust there'll be others before too much longer, but next time you might not experience actors bounding in and out of the seat next to yours.  

Remaining performances are Saturday-Sunday, November 21-22, at 3:00 and 8:00 each day.  

For information, see

Who's Your Baghdaddy? is based on an unproduced screenplay by J. T. Allen, which was inspired by reporter Bob Drogin's coverage of these events for the Los Angeles Times.

I'm now reading Drogin's book Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Con Man Who Caused a War, which tells the story at length.  It's riveting.