Catskills “Frontiers”

As I’ve noted before, I will always remember, in the immediate aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene ripping through the Catskills in August 2011 – and us, with a generator, so we could actually watch some news and have internet – hearing CNN’s Anderson Cooper actually say, “Prattsville, New York,” several times to a worldwide audience. It was surreal. We always see disasters played out in media “elsewhere,” but it never happens to “us,” right?:

That nearby town had been virtually destroyed when waters from the massively overflowing Schoharie Creek tore through it. Four years on, the scars are still there, yet it has rebuilt wonderfully – there are new stores and refurbished homes. (We venture in there primarily to shop at the well-stocked “Great American” supermarket.) It looks almost like another place now.

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“I was neat, clean, shaved and sober….”

Check this out. I could have fallen over when I discovered this. I had to share it:



It’s a 1948 British hardcover copy – with a dust jacket! – of Raymond Chandler’s classic The Big Sleep, featuring Philip Marlowe, private eye. (Interesting bit of authoring history: Wiki says Chandler turned to writing detective fiction after losing his job at age 44 in 1932, during the Great Depression. I never knew that.) The 1946 film version had starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

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A Motorcycle Journey Down Memory Lane

I know it’s not like me, but I have no “profound” post in mind for today.

I suppose I still recovering from the house move.

So, how about this? I saw this yesterday on Twitter:

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Lower Manhattan Skyline, 1990s

R. J. Nello:

I thought reposting this from one year ago was the most appropriate way to recall that day once again…

Originally posted on R. J. Nello:

I’ve always been fond of this photo I’d taken in 1991. Since September 11, 2001, it has come to mean even more to me. I used it eventually on the back cover of Passports:

Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center's Twin Towers, from the Liberty Island ferry. [Photo by me, 1991.] Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, from the Liberty Island ferry. [Photo by me, 1991.]

The passage of time is inevitable. My soon to be 20 year old English nephew said to me last year that to him the Twin Towers meant, basically, terrorism. He was so young in 2001 that he naturally doesn’t recall it really being anything else. But it merits also to be remembered in history for all that it was before that horrible morning.

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“Distances” Will Be Released….

….on November 29!:

Screen capture of
Screen capture of

It will be published no later than that date. However, it might appear sooner if I finish “touching it up” sooner than that. I don’t know if it’s available for pre-order at the other Amazons as well (I haven’t clicked around to check), but I presume it is (or will be within hours).

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Our “Virtual” Heritage

I’m not writing this post because I’ve hit “50”: I’ve been thinking about this for some time. ;-) As our ancestors died, they’d leave behind objects. We’d inherit photographs, letters, diaries, music (records and cassettes) and books:

Excerpt from
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Increasingly, though, our generation has so much that’s “virtual” and doesn’t have a physical presence – email, social media accounts, etc.

Consider photos. Some people have truly incredible Instagram accounts. That probably includes some of you. I’m not easily jealous, but some I’ve seen…. Wow!

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An Audience Of “One”

At the start, in 2013, I knew I was writing for only a minuscule group of readers, most of whom I knew personally. That is scary in its own way. Leaving yourself on the page creatively to friends and family is actually much more intimidating than doing so with “strangers.”

The “strangers” reading numbers have grown quite a bit since then. Yet I’d never expected to write for gazillions of readers, and I realistically still don’t. I suppose that actually helps me relax in my writing. It’s freedom, and even in its way it’s like a small – even exclusive – escapist “reading club”: the rest of the “ugly world” is out there…. someplace.

Most of us get some stage fright if we have to give a speech. I used to do politics lectures for a hundred or so college students, so I wasn’t too fazed by public speaking. Yet that was talking to a subject; it wasn’t talking about “yourself.” Moreover, university students have to listen to what you say and pass the exams to get their degree, so they’re “a captive audience.”

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a student desk and chair.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a student desk and chair.

Novel writing is decidedly something else. No one has to read a word of your tales. Yet if you think about all of those who might read what you’ve invented, you could freeze up in abject terror while sitting at the keyboard.

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“I’m an old guy now”

No laughing. If you aren’t already, well, you will be here someday too. And when you get here, you might even vaguely remember having once seen this blog post:

A couple of examples of the comedians in my life.
A couple of examples of the comedians in my life.

Oh, and the other day, we’d checked up on friends’ cats again – while they were away for a couple of nights:

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