Sunday, January 31, 2010



Hosanna in excelsis sing
the Christians with their lulavs;
very like the Rebbe thing
performed by many Lubavs.


dancing in the dark


When you’re dancing in the dark
you hope that everyone will keep the lights off,
and that you’ll make your macho mark
when your gal agrees to takes her tights off.

If to do this she’s unready,
you’ll think they might as well have switched the lights on
while dancing in the dark, more heady
that she with whom you danced, but kept her tights on.

And yet if in the dark you dance,
and heads rush before the lights have been switched on,
you still may both enhance romance
by holding tight before some light has shone.
“Dancing in the Dark” is a popular song, with music by Arthur Schwartz and lyrics by Howard Dietz, that was first introduced by John Barker in the 1931 revue The Band Wagon. The 1941 recording by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra earned Shaw one of his eight gold records at the height of the Big Band era of the 1930s and 1940s. It was subsequently featured in the classic 1953 MGM musical The Band Wagon and has since come to be considered part of the Great American Songbook. In the film it is given a ‘sensual and dramatic’ orchestration by Conrad Salinger for a ballet performance by Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. The song has also been recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Bea Wain, Bing Crosby, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Diamanda Galas, and others.
Dancing in the dark 'til the tune ends
We're dancing in the dark and it soon ends
We're waltzing in the wonder of why we're here
Time hurries by, we're here and we're gone
Looking for the light of a new love
To brighten up the night, I have you love
And we can face the music together
Dancing in the dark
What - though love is old
What - though song is old
Through them we can be young
Hear this heart of mine
Wailin' all the time
Dear one, tell me that we're one
Looking for the light of a new love
To brighten up the night, I have you love
And we can face the music together
Dancing in the dark, dancing in the dark
Dancing in the dark


Saturday, January 30, 2010


Redemption comes not from an altar,
but has to come le’altar, now!
Unfortunately, if you falter,
even God does not know how
to bring redemption, since He needs
cooperation. Not alone,
but helped by you and your good deeds,
He’ll bring you closer to His throne,
which is the kiseh hakavod,
the throne of glory He will leave
to give a helping hand, for God
redeems at once, if you believe.
What is the reason for delay?
Why does it look as though He schlepps?
He isn’t coming till the day
we do not falter in our steps.

Le’altar means immediately, and is the first part of the phrase le’altar liteshuvah le’altar li-ge’ullah, “immediately for repentance, immediately for redemption,” which the sixth Lubavitch Rebne, Yosef Yitshaq, instructed his followers to repeat in order to expedite a redemption following his release from prison on 12–13 Tammuz 5687 (July 12 –13, 1927). Schlepps is Yiddish for "drags." Unfortunately redemption did ot come for other Jews then, or at a later date (Elliot R. Wolfson, Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 280–1.


why do I bark?


A man who asks the question, “Why am I?”
is like a dog who asks, “Why do I bark?”
except that dogs have masters who say why
they love the dog, and take it to the park,
whereas the man who asks what’s asked above
has got no master who will answer any
questions he may ask. The answer, “Love,”
may be the best, for I can’t think of many.

Charles Simic has just been appointed the US’s fifteenth poet laureate. A good choice, I say, since he once sent me a postcard with his photo and warmly commended a few poems I had sent him. Moto Rich writes in the NYT, August 2, 2007 (“Charles Simic, Surrealist with Dark View, Is Named Poet Laureate”):
Mr. Billington said he admired Mr. Simic’s work because it was “both accessible and deep,” adding that “the lines are memorable.” He referred to a stanza from “My Turn to Confess,” a poem from Mr. Simic’s 2005 collection, “My Noiseless Entourage,” also published by Harcourt:
James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will announce Mr. Simic’s appointment. Mr. Billington said he chose Mr. Simic from a short list of 15 poets because of “the rather stunning and original quality of his poetry,” adding: “He’s very hard to describe, and that’s a great tribute to him. His poems have a sequence that you encounter in dreams, and therefore they have a reality that does not correspond to the reality that we perceive with our eyes and ears.” Mr. Simic, speaking by telephone from his home in Strafford, N.H., described himself as a “city poet” because he has “lived in cities all of my life, except for the last 35 years.” Before settling into academia, he held a number of jobs in New York, including bookkeeping, bookselling and shirt sales. He originally wanted to be a painter, he said, until “I realized that I had no talent.”
A dog trying to write a poem on why he barks,
That’s me, dear reader!
They were about to kick me out of the library
But I warned them,
My master is invisible and all-powerful.
Still they kept dragging me out by the tail.

I revised this poem on 1/30/10 while reading many of my poems with my grandson Darius, who is amazed that his grandfather has written more than 7,350 poems. This poem in # 4859.

8/2/07, 1/30/10

in praise of older lovers


With George Clooney, in the air air,
you may feel ectastic though
he is showing wear and tear,
with a grey tinge to his glow.
The same is true of Meryl Streep.
and the graying of our actors
leads to thoughts about the factors
that make you choose with whom to sleep.

Age, of course, may cut both ways,
the younger may seem more attractive,
but with the passing of the days,
the older are in bed more active.
Young women playing with old men
will often find sex more rewarding
than with the young whose active yen
is more Academy-awarding.
and young men playing with a cougar
deserve respect, I think, for they
may find more randy than a Kruger
the gals in golden years who play.

Inspired by “Update: Trust anyone over 30,” by Mary McNamara (LA Times, January 30, 2010):

Conan O'Brien lost out to Jay Leno, Diane Sawyer has more viewers than Katie Couric, Brett Favre drew millions to the NFC championship and Meryl Streep is burning up the box office. Is youth culture, like, you know, dead? For years the all-powerful 18-25 demographic has held America captive, forcing things like Twitter, skinny jeans, vampire love and "The Hills" down our throats, threatening to upend art and media, to dismantle the networks and force everyone over 40 (except Steve Jobs) into cultural retirement. So what's with all the old people all of sudden? Between the David Letterman sex scandal (a sex scandal! At 62!); the brouhaha over Leno (59 to O'Brien's 46); the defection from "American Idol" of Simon Cowell, who miraculously manages to be a pop czar at age 50; and the sheer inevitability of James Cameron and George Clooney, recent covers of Entertainment Weekly et al could be mistaken for the AARP magazine. On television, Minnesota's quarterback Favre may have lost the title game, but the sight of a 40-year-old outplaying men half his age made a game between two small-market teams a ratings winner. Meanwhile Fox News just became the reigning champ of cable thanks to its overwhelmingly (as in 69%) 55-plus audience. And it's not just "real-life" imagery that's aging rapidly. The average age of TV characters has increased as well. With a few exceptions -- "Glee," for instance, and "Life Unexpected" -- the shows debuting this fall and winter were a lesson in maturity, including "Cougar Town" and "Men of a Certain Age." Even the wonderful "The Good Wife" is unapologetically much more fortysomething than thirtysomething. At the cineplex, there's a similar trend. While Streep is turning 60 into the new 30, the dreamboat formerly known as George Clooney plays a guy so far gone into late middle age that he shares the screen with the young and tasty Anna Kendrick without there being even a hint of intergenerational romance. "I don't even think of him that way," her character says at one point. "He's old." Clooney's not the only one. Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth likewise turned in gray and haggard Men of a Certain Age performances and Sherlock Holmes, entering his third century, re-emerged as an action hero, courtesy of Robert Downey Jr., who, at 44, is well past puberty himself. Even the phenomenon that is "Avatar," for all its youthful appeal, is the vision of a 55-year-old.


only if


Cherish now the fleeting years,
the few while you are here,
don’t mourn for them with tears.
The past will disappear
like bourbon you have drunk. The olden
days will not come back,
of catchers in the rye like Holden
there’ll always be a lack.
Think of the future, look ahead,
and don’t fall off the cliff.
Say only “yes” to it instead
of saying, only if.”

Inspired by the death of J.D. Salinger, on whom Charles McGrath wrote an obituary in the NYT on January 29, 2010:

Never much of a student, Mr. Salinger, then known as Sonny, attended the progressive McBurney School on the Upper West Side. (He told the admissions office his interests were dramatics and tropical fish.) But he flunked out after two years and in 1934 was packed off to Valley Forge Military Academy, in Wayne, Pa., which became the model for Holden’s Pencey Prep. Like Holden, Mr. Salinger was the manager of the school fencing team, and he also became the literary editor of the school yearbook, Crossed Swords, and wrote a school song that was either a heartfelt pastiche of 19th-century sentiment or else a masterpiece of irony:
Hide not thy tears on this last day
Your sorrow has no shame;
To march no more midst lines of gray;
No longer play the game.
Four years have passed in joyful ways — Wouldst stay those old times dear?
Then cherish now these fleeting days,
The few while you are here.

The title of Salinger’s most famous book, “Catcher in the Rye,’ has the following explanation:

Holden finally decides to surreptitiously return home to see his younger sister Phoebe. During a short conversation with her Holden reveals the meaning of the novel's title. The "Catcher in the Rye" idea is based on a misreading of a line in the song "Comin' Thro' the Rye," by Robert Burns, which Holden heard a young boy singing. The young boy instead substituted "When a body meet a body, comin' thro' the rye" for "When a body catch a body, comin' thro' the rye." Holden imagines children playing a game in a field of rye near a cliff, and it is his role to protect the children by catching anyone who comes too near to the edge. Such a job, he says, would make him truly happy. Holden tells Phoebe he has always wanted to be a Catcher in the Rye (symbolically, a rescuer of children). Holden tells her his plan to run away, to live far away from everybody, and Phoebe offers him her Christmas money. Holden flees the house when his parents arrive home."


Friday, January 29, 2010

interior labyrinth


Lack of an interior labyrinth
is fatal if you think you’re monumental,
demanding plaudits, placed upon a plinth.
Though the problem that you suffer may be mental,
you’ll suffer consequences if you lack
the complications one associates with mazes,
subjected quite unfairly to attack
by those whom only what is tortuous amazes.

Far more deserving of respect the Min-
otaur than people who do not confuse with bull-
shit their opponents. If there’s nothing in
your head that can’t be understood, they’ll think you’re full
of emptiness. If you have no interior
labyrinth, in which explorers are misled,
you will be underestimated, an inferior
whose arguments need not be followed by a thread.

Inspired by an article by Steve Erlanger and Alan Cowell on the acquittal of Dominique de Villepin of charges that he had conspired against President Sarkozy (NYT, January 29, 2010):
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France suffered a significant political setback on Thursday when a Paris court acquitted a rival and former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, on charges that he was part of a 2004 conspiracy to tarnish Mr. Sarkozy’s reputation. Mr. Sarkozy, who won the presidency in any case, was himself a plaintiff in the deeply political trial, known as “Clearstream,” which both confused and captivated France. The case had raised issues of class, culture and power, and Mr. Sarkozy made no secret of his hostility toward Mr. de Villepin. The verdict found no wrongdoing by Mr. de Villepin, even though prosecutors had asked the court to convict him of complicity in slander, forgery, use of stolen property and breach of trust. The case turned on the use of forged documents to try to defame Mr. Sarkozy and others by linking them to secret accounts supposedly containing kickbacks from arms sales to Taiwan…After the verdict, which was delivered in the courtroom in which Marie Antoinette was sentenced to the guillotine, Mr. de Villepin, 56, said: “I have no rancor, no resentment. I want to turn the page.” He called the verdict “a victory of justice and the law over politics…There were about 40 plaintiffs, but Mr. de Villepin has said he believes that Mr. Sarkozy was behind the case, trying to use the power of the presidency for political ends. At the beginning of the trial last year, Mr. de Villepin said he was in the dock “because of the relentlessness of one man, Nicolas Sarkozy,” whom he has previously referred to as “that dwarf.” In 2004, Mr. de Villepin, who has written books of declamatory poetry, told Le Point that “Nicolas doesn’t have the makings of a man of state, because he has no interior labyrinth” and lacks “the mystery that is the strength of great men.” The two men were ministers under President Jacques Chirac, who favored Mr. de Villepin, but Mr. Sarkozy proved the better politician. Mr. Sarkozy not only was a plaintiff, but during the trial, he also branded the defendants guilty, which his opponents called a further violation of his responsibility as president to be above the law.He vowed revenge in 2005, saying he would hang those responsible “on a butcher’s hook.” But as Mr. Barbier said, “If the case was the revenge of Sarkozy, it may also be the beginning of the revenge of de Villepin.”


embrace uncertainty


Embrace uncertainty, and go out on a limb:
say, “This might be,” more often than “This is.”
Explore the canyon that lies far below the rim,
without demanding answers in life’s quiz.

Inspired by Eric Gibson’s article in the WSJ, January 28, 2010, regarding problematic works at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Metropolitan Museum in New York (“Are They or Aren’t They?”). The former dealing with preparatory drawings for Leonardo’s massive equestrian sculpture of Duke Francesco Sforza, destroyed by the French in 1593 and a silver relief of the beheading of John the Baptist by Verocrochio, to whom Leonardo was apprenticed for six years, beginning when he was 14. The exhibition proposes that two figures in the Verrochio, dated 1477–78, are the work of Leonardo. The Metropolitan exhibits “The Young Archer Attributed to Michelangelo.” Gibson writes:

We know museums primarily as arbiters of culture, their collections and displays instructing us in such matters as what constitutes a masterpiece and who painted what. So it’s refreshing when they embrace uncertainty, going out on a limb to tell us “This mighr be” rather than “This is.”


Thursday, January 28, 2010



Chimpanzees possess no buns,
contrasting thus with homo habilis,
the only primate who has ones
an arse-man might describe as fabulous.
Long distance running after foxes
who dazzle us by being beauteous
depends on what lies on the coccyx,
the major muscle known as gluteus.
With the muscles on her bum,
a bumptious female can make of a male
a monkey, even if she’s dumb,
and he’s a primate lacking any tail.

In the NYT on November 18, 2004 John Noble Wilford discusses a paper by two scientists, Dr. Dennis M. Bramble of the University of Utah and Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard, who report in the journal Nature that their analysis of the fossil record found striking anatomical evidence for the capability of prolonged running in the Homo genus, beginning about two million years ago." Today, endurance running is primarily a form of exercise and recreation, but its roots may be as ancient as the origin of the human genus," the scientists conclude in the article:
By two million years ago, Dr. Bramble and Dr. Lieberman noted, early species of the Homo family, notably Homo erectus, had long, slender legs for greater strides. They had shorter arms and a narrower rib cage and pelvis. Their skulls included features to help prevent overheating. A ligament attached to the base of the skull kept their heads steady as they ran.
Although tissues do not fossilize, traces of muscle and tendon attachment points on bones of early species revealed an extensive network of springy tendons along the back of the legs and feet, including a well-developed Achilles tendon that anchored calf muscles to the heel bone. Tendons served to store and release elastic energy during running but were not needed for ordinary walking.
And there was the gluteus maximus, the muscle of the buttocks. Earlier human ancestors, like chimpanzees today, had pelvises that could support only a modest gluteus maximus, nothing like the strong buttocks of Homo. Have you ever looked at an ape?" Dr. Bramble said. "They have no buns." r. Lieberman, a paleontologist, explained: "Your gluteus maximus stabilizes your trunk as you lean forward in a run. A run is like a controlled fall, and the buttocks help to control it."
I added the last quatrain on 1/28/10.

11/18/04, 1/28/10

loyalty of flowers


Dogs all love to hunt, but fetch
your slippers when you’re resting up.
Cats are fun: when they don’t kvetch
they’re more fun than a messy pup.
Bunny rabbits tend to re-
produce so fast you must take care
to make sure that they’ll never be
with co-eds in a hutch they share.
Tortoises are ideal pets,
they move so slowly they will never
in races against hares win bets,
although they seem to me more clever.
If you keep fishes in a tank
you’ll have to feed them every day;
do not expect they’ll ever thank
you—they’re like children, I would say.
Do not expect from any beast
the loyalty that you expect
from children, who, at least,
give some before they disconnect.
There’s nothing in the world more loyal
than flowers in a garden or
a vase, and they are hard to spoil
because they never ask for more.

Inspired a Croatian friend whose comment on my poem “The Dog Was Made to Hunt and Guard” was:

There’s nothing as loyal as a flower in a vase.


no time for regret


Leaving, no time for regret,
he didn’t seem the least upset
when she declared: “Won’t have you back!”
He left her for a doubled track,
a two-time girl he thought would treat
him better than this gal had done.
A hundred times he felt defeat,
and died when learning she had run
away with his best friend, no longer
his best friend, but now his worst,
because he’d surely done him wronger
than any friend had done to him.

He wronged him, and nobody can
whitewash this blackguard of a man.

He wished now that he’d said to her
“Au revoir,” instead of cold “Goodbye.”
Things don’t come back to what they were,
and best times of your life can fly
away like dreams, when your best gal
hooks up with your best friend. “Oy veh!”
he says, regretting his best pal
and taking his best gal away,
though really it’s his fault. For how
he once abandoned her without
regrets he’s surely paying now,
without, I think, the slightest doubt.

He’d wronged her, and nobody can
whitewash this blackguard of a man.

Inspired by Amy Winehouse’s song “Back to Black” (

He left no time to regret
Kept his dick wet
With his same old safe bet
Me and my head high
And my tears dry
Get on without my guy
You went back to what you knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I'll go back to black

We only said good-bye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to.....

I go back to us

I love you much
It's not enough
You love blow and I love puff
And life is like a pipe
And I'm a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to

Black, black, black, black, black, black, black,
I go back to
I go back to

We only said good-bye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to

We only said good-bye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to black


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

let us hear the smile


Rameau lets us hear the smile
of Voltaire; let me emulate
his talent, trying to beguile
my music mistress and my mate.

I wish that she could hear my smile
as she can see the written word
I conjure, trying to beguile
all readers who have never heard
the smiling sounds jump from my pages
like a princess who awakes,
having been asleep for ages––
for smiles are all that waking takes.

In a review of the recorded music of Jean-Philippe Rameau (“Paying Court to a Wry Master of the French Baroque,” the NYT, April 7, 2000), Paul Griffiths writes: “Rameau lets us hear Voltaire’s smile.”

I revised this poem in 1/26/10, while listening to a suite from Rameau’s “Pygmalion” on KUSC, introduced by Alan Chapman. The Vorlage of this poem, written in 4/7/00, is:

I wish that you could hear my smile
as you can see the written word
I conjure, trying to beguile
the readers who have never heard
sounds of smiling jump from pages
like a princess who awakes,
having been asleep for ages––
smiles are all it really takes.




Ambivalence, concealment with mystery inscrutable,
Maimonides, like a computer always bootable,
or widely open book with knowledge that provides
all answers, except maybe Strauss’s that he hides.

Inspired by a review of Joel L. Kraemer’s Maimonides, reviewed in the TLS, January 25, 2010, by Nicholas de Lange. De Lange wonders whether Kraemer’s book was necessary after Herbert Davidson’s Moses Maimonides: The man and his works, which he describes as a monograph that is so “thorough and complete that it is reasonable to wonder why anyone would want to write another book in English covering the same ground so soon afterwards.” Whereas Davidson emphasizes the lack of evidence of any conversion to Islam by the Maimon family under the Almohad persecution of Jews, Kraemer “gives greater credence to sources that support the case for accepting Maimonides’s conversion than to the counterevidence.” He points out that whereas Davidson is critical of Strauss’s reading of the Guide, Kraemer writes warmly of his Persecution and the Art of Writing, in which he says of Maimonides: “His was a life of ambivalence, concealment, and inscrutable mystery.” He concludes by writing:

Few people know the subject as Joel Kraemer does. His intimate familiarity with Maimonides’s writings is evident throughout the book. It is an easy and enjoyable book to read (which is something rare in Maimonidean studies). It is all the more disappointing, then, to discover a study that, for all its erudition, if often uncritical and superficial, and compares unfavorably with that of Davidson.


softly I can hear you tread


Softly I can hear you tread.
Above the softness I feel breath
you’re wafting to me, not yet dead,
but peacefully awaiting death.
I do not mean the death of those
who die and never will return,
but, while I dream and you, too doze,
the non-death of Keats’ Grecian urn,
for we will simultaneously
awake with words that I have said
to you in ode-ious poetry
that’s not beneath, but in, your head.
Death does rhyme with you or me,
as Keats does not with William Yeats;
my words, embroidered cloths, will be
what bonds our two tectonic plates.

Inspired by “Cloths of Heaven,” by W. B. Yeats:

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The slightly lugubrious ton of this poem is related to the death of Mike Robyn on the morning that I composed the poem.

© 2010 Gershon Hepner 1/27/10



They said to me: “Rehab’s
the place where you should go.”
I said to them: “Perhaps
there’s nothing that you know
about my case. You think
because I easily
get high I have to drink.”
They’re thinking weasely.

Wisely, I do not
imbibe except what you
have offered, mostly hot,
when I give you the cue,
and never really cold,
always in top form
even when you’re not
on boil, but merely warm.

Without you I’m depressed;
you’re the cure that’s, maybe,
the only, not just best,
and that’s why you’re my baby,
and why I don’t think re-
hab’s where I ought to be.
That place, if you agree,
is where you are––with me.

Inspired by a song by Amy Winehouse, “They tried to make me go to rehab”,

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go

I'd rather be at home with Ray
I ain't got seventy days
Cause there's nothing
There's nothing you can teach me
That I can't learn from Mr Hathaway

I didn't get a lot in class
But I know it don't come in a shot glass

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go

The man said 'why do you think you here'
I said 'I got no idea
I'm gonna, I'm gonna lose my baby
so I always keep a bottle near'
He said 'I just think your depressed,
kiss me here baby and go rest'

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go

I don't ever wanna drink again
I just ooh I just need a friend
I'm not gonna spend ten weeks
have everyone think I'm on the mend

It's not just my pride
It's just 'til these tears have dried

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go

© 2010 Gershon Hepner 1/27/10

Friday, January 15, 2010

beatty in haiti


The number of the female conquests made by Warren Beatty
is said to be twelve thousand, seven hundred seventy five,
a number that’s far smaller than the earthquake deaths in Haiti,
and all of Beatty’s victims still probably are alive.

They say that God’s behind the movement of the earth in quakes,
megadeaths to Him a concept that is hardly foreign,
but Beatty’s conquests find that sex with him is all it takes
to make them feel the earth has moved, and cry out loud: “Oh Warren!”

Many thousand victims does not seem for God to be
a number that’s unreasonable, and everyone’s his fan.
Warren’s number is more reasonable and his esprit
does less harm to the corps for whom he is the triggerman

On the same day that Pooja Bhatia, a fellow at the Institute of Current World Affairs, writes an Op-Ed in the NYT on the earthquake in Haiti, explaining that many Haitians blame God for the earthquake Stephen M. Silverman reports in, January 3, 2010
Warren Beatty's legendary gold crown for womanizing is about to get some added polish, with this week's publication of Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America – though the 72-year-old star has already issued a statement though his attorney to refute the book's claims. "Using simple arithmetic," author Peter Biskind calculates, according to New York Post, Beatty bedded "12,775 women, give or take, a figure that does not include daytime quickies, drive-bys, casual gropings, stolen kisses and so on." But in a statement to the Huffington Post, Beatty's attorney, Bertram Fields, denies that the book – which the Post reported was authorized – was, in fact, sanctioned by the actor. "Mr. Biskind's tedious and boring book on Mr. Beatty was not authorized by Mr. Beatty and should not be published as an authorized biography," according to the attorney. "It contains many false assertions and purportedly quotes Mr. Beatty as saying things he never said. Other media should not repeat things from the book on the assumption that they are true or that the book is an authorized biography." Among Beatty's conquests, Biskind writes, the Bonnie and Clyde, Heaven Can Wait and Reds star-producer can claim Jane Fonda (who at first thought her costar was gay), Joan Collins (whom he exhausted), Leslie Caron, Isabelle Adjani, Julie Christie, Diane Keaton, Madonna and, of course, the actress Beatty married in 1992, Annette Bening.
Patrick Goldstein reports in the LA Times, January 14, 2010 (“The story behind the bio”):
When I pressed him about whether it (12,775) was an invented number, he responded: “Warren did say to someone else that he couldn’t get to sleep at night without having sex with someone, so I just added up the days. It didn’t seem an unreasonable figure.”
Commenting on the earthquake in Haiti the Op-Ed Cited above Pooja Bhatia writes:
FOR most of the past 20 hours I’ve been hiking the earthquake-rubbled streets of Port-au-Prince. Tuesday night, when we had less idea of the scope of the devastation, there was singing all over town: songs with lyrics like “O Lord, keep me close to you” and “Forgive me, Jesus.” Preachers stood atop boxes and gave impromptu sermons, reassuring their listeners in the dark: “It seems like the Good Lord is hiding, but he’s here. He’s always here.” The day after, as the sun exposed bodies strewn everywhere, and every fourth building seemed to have fallen, Haitians were still praying in the streets. But mostly they were weeping, trying to find friends and family, searching in vain for relief and walking around in shock. If God exists, he’s really got it in for Haiti. Haitians think so, too. Zed, a housekeeper in my apartment complex, said God was angry at sinners around the world, but especially in Haiti. Zed said the quake had fortified her faith, and that she understood it as divine retribution….
Why, then, turn to a God who seems to be absent at best and vindictive at worst? Haitians don’t have other options. The country has a long legacy of repression and exploitation; international peacekeepers come and go; the earth no longer provides food; jobs almost don’t exist. Perhaps a God who hides is better than nothing.

© 2010 Gershon Hepner 1/14/10

Wednesday, January 13, 2010



To music’s passion marvelously martyr,
Beethoven wrote the great Appassionata
in 1803, while trying to compete
with deafness that by then was quite complete.

Amazing how this handicap could be
for him a hurdle over which he’d flee
with flying jumps, while taking little heed
of those who could not keep up with his speed.

His signature became in every clef
the proof that handicaps like being deaf
may, if they’re treated with disdain and passion,
a signal not for pity or compassion,
but challenge, which he proved was not absurd
both in his middle period and the third.

Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, opus 57, colloquially known as the Appassionata, is considered one of the three great piano sonatas of his middle period (the others being the Waldstein sonata, opus 53 and Les Adieux, Opus 81a). It was composed during 1803, 1804, 1805, and perhaps 1806, and is dedicated to Count Franz von Brunswick. The first edition was published in February 1807 in Vienna. Unlike the early Sonata No. 8, Pathétique, the Appassionata was not named during the composer's lifetime, but was so labeled in 1838 by the publisher of a four-hand arrangement of the work. The Appassionata was considered by Beethoven to be his most tempestuous piano sonata until the Hammerklavier, being described as a "brilliantly executed display of emotion and music". 1803 was the year Beethoven came to grips with his complete deafness. An average performance of all three movements of the Appassionata sonata lasts about 23 minutes.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

pantied cougars


Pantied cougars, just like aging panthers,
have partners who aren’t always the best answers:
when looking for young men they can seduce,
it’s often just too late to reproduce,
and their decision that made them delay
their reproduction may force them to pay
a doctor specialized in reproductive
medicine. Too late to be seductive
if you’re a cougar who is highly sexed
and fed up with your old man whom you’ve exed:
you won’t find with your fading bedroom eyes,
a young man who’ll both fuck and fertilize.

Most cougars are less fertile than a bunny,
and therefore forced to spend a lot of money
to have a child if they, when younger, failed
to be pink panther who’s both tailed and maled.
Sex In the City, which was for Samantha
great fun, is less so as a cougar panther
when she is trying to conceive. Your doc
injects you with some hormones, but a cock
that drives you with a cougar climax wild
won’t give you what you really want, a child.
Pink panthers have far better syncopations
than gray ones who are running out of patience.

Inspired by an article on the Florida panther by Natalie Angier (“A Love Affair With the Florida Panther, for the Moment,” NYT, January 5, 2010):
As David Onorato of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission carefully opened the giant refrigerator where the bodies were kept, I couldn’t help myself. My heart raced. My muscles tensed. Every cheesy freezer horror scene from the movies and “The Sopranos” flitted through my mind, and I almost covered my eyes but knew how ridiculous that would be. Yet when the partly frozen female panther was finally laid out on a metal table, the sight was not scary or grisly. It was pure, plain sadness. The vultures may have pecked out her eyes and begun rummaging around beneath her tail, but still the 4-year-old panther was an 80-pound muscular masterpiece, her canines as thick and polished as coffee cup handles, her tawny fur still softly bristly to the touch. The carcass had been recovered from the side of the road a day earlier, another case of big cat meets bigger motorized vehicle in a year that was full of them: 17 endangered Florida panthers were killed by cars and trucks in 2009, the valedictory victim a 3-month-old kitten, as young panthers are called, found on New Year’s Eve. Add in the seven other panthers that were killed by gunshot, one another or “causes unknown,” and the mortality rate seems insupportably high for a wild population estimated at maybe 110 breeding adults. Yet if there is any bright note to be extracted from the death ledgers, it’s that the wild panthers slinking in and around the Everglades — the sole surviving tribe of Puma concolor east of the Mississippi — are apparently breeding avidly enough to replace their fallen numbers. The traffic fatalities are terrible, said Dr. Onorato, but “we must remember there’s reproduction going on, some of which we don’t document.” Call them panthers, pumas, cougars or mountain lions, but cats they remain, and cats have a defiantly syncopated way of coming back again and again. As Dr. Onorato and other researchers see it, the tale of the Florida panther is twitchier and more sinuous than its long tail, a continuing saga of highs and lows, hopes and oh nos.

2010 Gershon Hepner 1/5/10

Monday, January 4, 2010

persian cats

With Persian cats, nobody knows
what they are thinking. It’s the same
with Persian people. Heaven knows
how they intend to play the game
of politics! They are high-riskers,
and always fighting, out to catch
their enemies. They don’t have whiskers,
but quite surely love to scratch
whenever they feel irritated
by cats that are not pure-bred Persians,
and claim that they should not be hated
by specious species whose aspersions
are, they allege, unfairly cast
against them. They’ve a nasty Tom
which makes non-Persian cats aghast
because he wants to build a bomb
which could blow up all other cats
which do not purr the Persian way,
and unlike cats don’t sit on mats
and love, as Persians do, to pray.
The fact is no one really knows
what Persian cats all want, but you
should never tread upon their toes
if you’re American or Jew.
If you are either they’ll attack
you with sharp teeth and untrimmed claws,
and if you’re ginger, white or black
make sure you don’t approach their jaws.

Inspired by an article on the Iranian movie industry by Michael Slackman (“Iranian Filmmakers Keep Focus on the Turmoil,” NYT, January 4, 2010):
It keeps trying. Films are censored. Directors are prohibited to leave the country and prohibited to return home, forced to cancel projects and threatened with punishment if their films are too probing or too critical of life in the Islamic Republic. But the films keep coming, and so do the filmmakers. Bahman Ghobadi’s latest work, “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” is banned in Iran but is being passed around for free, offering a searing portrait of life through the prism of a vibrant underground music scene. The movie has songs with lyrics like these: “This is Tehran, a city where everything you see entices you, entices your soul till you realize that you are not human, just trash.” The film took the Jury’s Special Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, turning the red carpet of an international film festival into a platform to draw attention to the political crisis in Iran. Similar events occurred in Montreal, Berlin, Nuremberg, Mumbai and London, where Iranian filmmakers — by either their presence or their government-forced absence — have used their celebrity to keep the public focused on the turmoil that has roiled Iran since the presidential election in June, which opponents of the government have denounced as fraudulent. “People of my country are killed, imprisoned, tortured and raped just for their votes,” Mohsen Makhmalbaf, one of Iran’s most renowned filmmakers, said after he accepted the Freedom to Create prize in London last month. “Every award I receive means an opportunity for me to echo their voices to the world, asking for democracy for Iran and peace for the world.”…
At home in Iran, not all of the directors have embraced the call to criticize. Abbas Kiarostami, whose own poetic examinations of Iranian life have established him as the elder statesman of Iranian cinema, criticized Mr. Ghobadi’s decision to make “No One Knows About Persian Cats” without government permission, and then deciding to leave the country. That set off an unusual public debate over the role of art in Iran, and whether it should have a social-political component. Mr. Kiarostami, whose “Taste of Cherry” won the Palme d’Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, mentored Mr. Ghobadi, so the critique was particularly stinging, prompting Mr. Ghobadi to respond with an emotional public letter to his former teacher. “On what basis do you give yourself permission to ridicule the efforts of filmmakers who stand with the oppressed people using unacceptable words and, worse than that, speak with the same voice as religious dictators?” Mr. Ghobadi wrote. Mr. Ghobadi’s assistant said that he was traveling and not available to comment, but that he planned to return, soon. To Berlin, not Iran.


burj and babel

Once upon a time there was an urge
to build a tower reaching to the sky.
The first one was in Babel, now a Burj
like Babel’s tower reaches in Dubai
about two thousand and six hundred feet
above the ground, a temple that was built
to hubris, an already obsolete
as boxers underneath Scotsman’s kilt.
Though built with balls, like Babel’s paradigm,
and cocky as the call of a muezzin
from a high minaret, it seems to climb
to nowhere, but it teaches us a lesson
about the way the folly of mankind
in every age attains new heights that move
its builders like the Babel men to find
new challenges to facts they must disprove.
Because I fell so sorry for the emirate,
I’ve found a way the Burj may make some money:
with hammers, Hammacher and Schlemmer it,
and sell the empty nest egg to the bunny
that we associate with Easter, when
a man who died came back to life. The Burj
may do this when investors find new men
prepared again hubristically to splurge.

In the LA Times, January 3, 2010 Christopher Hawthorne, in “A Temple to Hubris,” writes about the debut of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai:
One of the odder, more complicated moments in the history of architectural symbolism will arrive Monday with the formal opening of the Burj Dubai skyscraper. At about 2,600 feet high––the official figure is still being kept secret by developer Emaar Properties––and 160 stories, the tower, set back half a mile or so from Dubai's busy Sheikh Zayed Road, will officially take its place as the tallest building in the world. Designed by Adrian Smith, a former partner in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the Burj Dubai is an impossible-to-miss sign of the degree to which architectural ambition -- at least the kind that can be measured in feet or number of stories––has migrated in recent years from North America and Europe to Asia and the Middle East. It is roughly as tall as the World Trade Center towers piled one atop the other. Its closest competition is Toronto's CN Tower, which is not really a building at all, holding only satellites and observation decks, and is in any case nearly 900 feet shorter. Monday's ribbon-cutting, though, could hardly come at a more awkward time. Dubai, the most populous member of the United Arab Emirates, continues to deal with a massive real estate collapse that has sent shock waves through financial markets around the world and forced the ambitious city-state, in a significant blow to its pride, to seek repeated billion-dollar bailouts from neighboring Abu Dhabi. Conceived at the height of local optimism about Dubai's place in the region and the world, this seemingly endless bean-stock tower, which holds an Armani Hotel on its lower floors with apartments and offices above, has flooded Dubai with a good deal more residential and commercial space than the market can possibly bear. And so here is the Burj Dubai's real symbolic importance: It is mostly empty, and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Though most of its 900 apartments have been sold, virtually all were bought three years ago -- near the top of the market -- and primarily as investments, not as places to live. ("A lot of those purchases were speculative," Smith, in something of an understatement, told me in a phone interview.) And there's virtually no demand in Dubai at the moment for office space. The Burj Dubai has 37 floors of office space….
fall of 2008 has created an unprecedented supply of unwanted or under-occupied real estate around the world. At the same time, rising cultural worry about environmental disaster or some other end-of-days scenario has produced a recent stream of books, movies and photography imagining cities and pieces of architecture emptied of nearly all signs of human presence. And so in the same week that you could read the news that the Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas has entirely sealed off two of its three towers (and its buffet!) for the holiday season, citing slow demand, you could head to the multiplex to watch the movie version of Cormac McCarthy's novel "The Road," in which a father and son wander through a post-apocalyptic landscape where buildings for the most part have been reduced to burned-out shells.And it's not just "The Road": The Roland Emmerich destruction-fest "2012" and the upcoming Denzel Washington vehicle "The Book of Eli" are full of similar images; Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air" moves its characters through a series of downsized companies where abandoned desk chairs swim in empty space.