Thursday, February 1, 2024

Happy Birthday, Sam

By my reckoning, today would be Sam’s 35th birthday. He came to live with me and Allen on April 22, 1989, and according to the vet who examined him for us, he was about eight weeks old, so we made his birthday February 1, 1989.

I still make room for him on the bed.

B&W Sam Edited 11-26-03

Friday, January 26, 2024

Happy Friday

Thanks to Flat Rate Geek, I got my computer tuned up and recovered the archives of my e-mails that go back to 2008.

It included all the e-mails that were written by my mom.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Happy Friday

From the mailbag:

My daughter forwarded “Island Time” to me. I wrote a comment, but discovered that by the time I finished it, comments had been closed. Here it is:

I lived on Montserrat from 1979-80 in a small house in Spanish Pointe known as the Beversteins’ place, along with my husband and nine year old daughter. Dr. Beverstein, from the Toronto, Canada area, had reportedly bought the house and lot because he had a terminal diagnosis. After several years there, still alive, he returned to Canada, but the locals called it the Beverstein place. My husband, Chod Harris VP2ML, WB2CHO, WA1SQB, bought the property which included an English Ford Cortina, license plate M18 (probably the 18th car on the island), for about $30,000 US. The property also came with an amateur radio tower and antenna, the main reason for the purchase. Chod and I were married at the courthouse in Plymouth in December, 1979. Our Spanish Pointe house, which we named The Last Resort, was part of a failed development (a scam, we were told), which had attracted mostly Canadians from the Toronto area. On the east side of the Island, it was somewhat isolated, but it was not far from the airport (the one later damaged by the hurricane and wiped out by the volcanic eruption). The development, where only a handful of houses had ever been built, had a good public water supply, electricity (sometimes), and telephone service. Much of the early history and pre-history of the island which you report in your blog was unknown, at least to us, when we moved there. The property had been rented out to ham radio operators by the Beversteins before we bought it. After we returned to the USA in 1980, Chod rented it out also to ham radio operators from time to time until the roof was blown off by Hurricane Hugo. Bobby Martin, a local amateur radio operator, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth of England for his service during the hurricane, when for several days he operated his radios using a car radio battery, providing the first and for awhile only communication off the island to broadcast what the island inhabitants needed from rescue efforts as well as info on the health and safety of island residents. “Sir Bobby” (the head electrician–maybe only electrician?–at the airport) had often assisted my husband in raising and lowering various antennas and wires onto the tower in our backyard, and lowering the tower to avoid damage when we were not there. His wife, Mae, often helped to get the house ready for any ham radio operator/family before their arrival. Mae was killed in car accident after the hurricane on one of the perilous roads on the west side of the island. I heard later that Bobby and one of his children had moved to England, but I lost touch with the family after my husband died in 1999. 

At one time, I had thought to write a mystery set in Montserrat and the uninhabited island Redonda west of Montserrat, but while I started a few times, I didn’t get very far. Glad to hear that you have done better than I.

I wrote back:

What a wonderful surprise and gift you’ve given me with your recollections of Montserrat.  It holds a precious place in my memories of peace, quiet, and beauty.  My partner Allen and I went there twice, November 1993 and 1994, and as I noted in the blog post, were planning 1995 when the volcano erupted.  We made reservations at the Vue Pointe nonetheless, but in September of that year, Carole Osborne, who ran the hotel with her husband Cedric, called me up to tell me that it wouldn’t be the same as we remembered it and asked us not to come.  We did send money to the Montserrat Red Cross.  Allen and I separated in 1999 but remained close, and he died in June 2018.

In the novel Bobby Cramer, Montserrat becomes St. Edmund with all of the greenery and quiet of the island, and the capital is New Cardiff, since in my story, it was founded by Welshmen who got lost going to America.  (I’m of Welsh ancestry, so I can make fun of my forefathers.)  It is known to the locals as Holy Ned.  The volcano does not erupt in my story, and the Vue Pointe is mentioned several times.  The main characters, Bobby and Richard, retire to the house at 15 Old Town Road in 2015.  I hope I kept the spirit of Montserrat – the way it used to be.

Now that I’ve retired and live in Miami, I may go back.  I know it won’t be the same, but that’s true no matter what.

Thank you again.

Memories and the times they bring back are one of the reasons I’m a writer, and hearing from someone who shared that place makes it all the better.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

A Touch Of Kindness

There are times when we doubt our faith in our fellow human beings; when we think that there aren’t people out there who would show kindness and generosity to someone they don’t know or will probably never meet. But all it takes is a small moment of kindness and suddenly, the light of the goodness of human nature shines through.

A while back I got a Facebook message from someone I didn’t know. They told me that they had found my old travel guide to Tuscany in a thrift store in Vancouver, Washington. They thought my handwriting indicated that I might be an architect. They were planning to use it for a glue book collage, but if I wanted the book back, I was to let them know. I said yes; it had been the guidebook Allen and I used on our honeymoon trip to Italy in December 1985 – January 1986.

I have no idea how the book ended up in Vancouver. The last time I remember seeing it was when we lived in Longmont. I wrote to the kind person who found it and sent it back:

Your gift arrived today, and I do mean gift. I have no idea how that book ended up in a thrift shop in Vancouver, Washington, but getting it back has brought back a flood of dear memories of my trip there with my late partner Allen. It was three weeks in Europe, most of them spent in Tuscany staying with friends in a tiny mountain town called Castelfranco di Sopra, and I haven’t been back since except in my recollections of that trip in December and January. Thank you so much for sending it back and restoring my faith in the good human nature that you showed me and Allen’s spirit. With pure happiness, thank you again.

I hope to go back to Florence someday, and I’m taking it with me.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Goodbye, Perrysburg — A Fond Memory

I wrote this post ten years ago: August 18, 2013.  It seems like yesterday, and a lifetime ago. Both my parents are gone now, but the memories are as alive as ever.

Commodore Perry

Commodore Perry

I’m writing this from the sun porch of my parents’ house in Perrysburg, Ohio.  It’s getting on towards late afternoon, but the sun is still high in the August sky, the sky is clear, the leaves on all the trees are that deep green that you see when they know they only have about a month or so before the light begins to change and the air cools in the evening.  The trees have to store up as much energy as they can to get through the long, grey winter ahead.

This sun porch is a familiar spot for me.  Most of my visits to this house have been in summer, and here is where we have our breakfast over the morning papers, afternoons on the couch with Tiger baseball on the TV, and dinner in the deepening twilight that lasts in summer until long after sunset and the rhythmic chorus of cicadas, katy-dids, and other denizens of the evening compete with the traffic on the street and the trains on the C&O railroad a few blocks over.

This is not the house I grew up in; Mom and Dad moved here in 1997 after living in northern Michigan for a while, but countless evenings were spent on the back porch of another house down the street where the same sounds filtered over the voice of Ernie Harwell calling the Tigers’ games on the crackling AM of WJR 760, the static telling us that somewhere, a thunderstorm was bringing rain and cool air to the cornfields that surround this small town.  Lightning bugs danced and glowed down at the bottom of the yard among the yew bushes and rhododendrons, and minty iced tea — and later, Stroh’s beer — made the evening cooler.

Summer, as you might have guessed, was my favorite time of year here, and even with our three weeks up in Michigan on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, nothing said summer to me more than those evenings on the porch with the orchestration of light, shadow and sound and the scent of newly-mowed grass and drying alfalfa from the grain elevator across town.

But if things go as planned, this is my last night on this sun porch in Perrysburg.  Later this fall my parents will begin a new adventure in a new place far removed from this little town that has been our hometown since 1957.  It is all good for them, and all of us — my three siblings — are with them every step of the way.  They are healthy, happy, and in good spirits as they forge on ahead as they have done with so many adventures in their sixty-five years together.  And as I sit here in the peaceful afternoon, watching a hummingbird busily sip from the feeder, I know that letting go and moving on is a good thing.  I should know; I’ve done it more times than I can count, and have the license plates to prove it.

In the many times I’ve moved and in the many places I’ve lived, I have never let go of the feeling that this town of Perrysburg will always be my home town.  I know the streets and side streets better than any other place I’ve lived, thanks to the bike rides with my childhood friends Joe and Randy and Deke and Trip and Cynny and Scott and Jim and Tommy and Marvin.  I still call the stores on Louisiana Avenue by the names I knew them then: Houck’s Drugstore, Mills Hardware, The Sport Shop, Mrs. Piatt’s Bakery, Ken’s Barber Shop, and Norm’s Appliance.  That’s where we sat at the soda fountain and read Archie comics; that’s where we bought paint and nails; that’s where Dad bought his duck decoys and shotgun shells; that’s where the smell of bread crossed the street and birthday cakes came the way you dreamed they did; that’s where a haircut cost a dollar; and that’s the place where you lined up between the Norge refrigerators and GE air conditioners to get your driver’s license and license plates because the wife of Norm at the appliance store was the Deputy Registrar for the DMV.  It’s where I got my first driver’s license in 1968, typed out on a green piece of paper from a battered Smith-Corona.  The stores have all changed their names and sell different things — and Mills is closed, the windows papered over — but they’re still there.

The tennis courts, the swimming pool, the elementary school where I attended kindergarten, the grocery store, the railroad tracks; they’re as familiar as old books on the shelf that you take down and thumb through, remembering the stories they told.  The sidewalks still have the same cracks in them, the street signs may be new but the names like Hickory, Elm, Front and Second are still where friends and family lived, and the new car in the driveway is the successor to the Country Squire and Pontiac Bonneville that once parked there, the keys in the ignition, the doors unlocked.

I made sure that as I drove around town on the way to do errands with my parents I took notice of the town.  It has changed over the last fifty-six years, but not so much that I don’t recognize it by the sights, sounds, and sense of place that comes with having something become a part of you over a lifetime.  And I made sure that I said goodbye with a smile and a nod to old familiar places, echoes of laughter, memories of sadness and passings, and knowing that while Thomas Wolfe gets all the press for saying you can’t go home again, you can visit, even if the place you lived in belongs to someone else and the people you know have moved on.

They’re still there.  And so am I.

Our house from 1957 to 1982.

Our house from 1957 to 1982.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Happy Friday

I have a vague recollection of Trump carrying on like a banshee about Hillary Clinton’s computer server in her basement and why that’s why she should be locked up.

Well, guess what.

Prosecutors announced additional charges against Donald Trump on Thursday in his alleged hoarding and hiding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, accusing the former president and a newly indicted aide [Carlos De Oliveira] of trying to keep security camera footage from being reviewed by investigators and bringing the number of total federal charges against Trump to 40.

[…]

The new version of the indictment recounts an alleged exchange between De Oliveira and another Trump employee on June 27, 2022, in which De Oliveira allegedly asked to have a private discussion in an “audio closet” at Mar-a-Lago.

De Oliveira allegedly asked the other employee how long the footage from the security cameras were stored on their computer server. When the employee replied 45 days, De Oliveira told the employee “that ‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted,” the indictment alleges. The other employee is referred to only as “Employee 4” in the indictment, but a person close to the investigation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss it, has said that person is an IT worker named Yuscil Taveras.

The employee replied “that he would not know how to do that, and that he did not believe that he would have the rights to do that,” according to the indictment. “De Oliveira then insisted to Trump Employee 4 that ‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted and asked, ‘What are we going to do?’”

Not only is karma Newtonian, it’s a real bitch.

Here’s something to remind us of happier times.  That’s me on the right with friends in Northport in August 1975, about a month before I moved to Minneapolis to start grad school.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Back To Reality

I’ll leave Northport Point this afternoon, and like the old song goes, I don’t know when I’ll be back again.  I’d like to think it would be to visit and relax instead of for a funeral, but who knows.

I leave with a lot of memories, including sailing with my dad.

Sixty years ago we had a fleet of Rhodes Bantams at Northport Point. They were 14′ sloop-rigged open hull, and while they were probably good on a small lake, on Grand Traverse Bay, where a good wind would give us three-foot waves, they were prone to shipping water, and in a gust they would capsize without too much trouble.

Dad grew up sailing M-boats — scows, really — on Lake Minnetonka, so Bantams were about as close as we could get to what he remembered from his boyhood. Every weekend that we were in Northport, he’d come up Friday night and be with us, and on Sunday afternoon there would be sailing races. The competition was fierce, and Dad could get to borderline Capt. Bligh if the races didn’t go our way. But we won our share of trophies, and I enjoyed being out on the water with him. As soon as we finished the races, we’d get the boat tied up to its buoy and then Dad would head back to work in Toledo, but ready to return the next weekend.

Sometime in the early 1970’s, the Bantams gave way to Sunfish: easier to sail, less complicated to rig, less prone to tipping (and easier to recover) and certainly more colorful on the water. By that time, though, Dad had given up on the competitive sailing and just enjoyed being out on the water, alone or with one of us on our Sunfish.

The picture below of the Bantam is not ours; it’s from Wikipedia. But you get the idea.

So, I’m homeward bound, back to extreme heat warnings and traffic on the Palmetto Expressway, but taking a lot of photos and memories back with me, including the reason I came back in the first place, and knowing that Mom and Dad are where I know they wanted to be forever.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Celebration of Life

The service is at 3:30.  We’ll sing one of her favorite songs from the Pooh Songbook — “How Sweet to Be a Cloud” — then share memories with friends as a part of the service.  Then we’ll gather at the wall and place some mementos in the niche with her, then come back to the house and receive friends. It’s the way she wanted it.

Here’s a view of the chapel.

 

Friday, July 21, 2023

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Sam

He died twenty-one years ago today.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him. There’s still that worn spot on the old bedspread where he slept, and I still make room for him on the bed.

Sam BW 11-26-03

Sam
February 1, 1989 – July 20, 2002

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Fair Nostalgia

This puts a glossy finish on the 1964-1965 New York Worlds Fair, and from the outside — my family went in September 1964 — it was wonderful.  But in reality it was a financial mess and lost money.  But it was still fun to go.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Fifth of July

Fifth of July is not just a date, it’s a play by Lanford Wilson. It opened off-Broadway in 1978, then, after some revision, on Broadway in 1980. It’s also the play that was the starting point of my doctoral studies and the subject of my doctoral thesis in 1988.

In 1985 I directed a production of the play at the Nomad Theatre in Boulder with a great cast.

Fifth of July Nomads March 1985

The cast of Fifth of July at Nomads Theatre, Boulder, Colorado, March 1985

In the course of my studies I became friends with Mr. Wilson, and the director of the productions, Marshall W. Mason. So ever since then, I have marked the 5th of July as a special day for me and my love of theatre.

“Matt didn’t believe in death and I don’t either…. There’s no such thing. It goes on and then it stops. You can’t worry about the stopping, you have to worry about the going on.” – Sally Talley, Fifth of July.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Remembering Allen

It’s been five years since Allen left us. It seems like both an eternity and an instant.

We met at the Spring Dance in Boulder on April 22, 1984, and for the next fifteen years he was my partner, my cohort, my love, my best friend, and an indelible part of my life. We went from Colorado to Michigan to New Mexico, raising gardens and a puppy, Sam, and sharing the joys and tribulations, good times and sad, tests and the odds that all couples face. We never married because we couldn’t by law, but we had everything married couples have, and when we parted in June 1999, we stayed friends, even to the point of being better friends apart.  In December 2017 he had a stroke, and the effects finally caught up with him in June 2018.

But he’s not really gone. One of the duties I have as a writer is to keep him around, so he shows up in my plays: “A Tree Grows in Longmont,” “Allen’s Big Adventure,” “Another Park, Another Sunday,” “Going for a Walk with Sam,” as Arnold in “Last Exit,” and J.R. in “Home-Style Cooking at the Gateway Cafe.” His personality is a big part of the character of Adam in the “All Together” plays, and Pete in “Cooler Near the Lake.” So, hon, wherever you are, you’re still getting into the act, and I will always call you Sweetheart.

“Never stop laughing!” – Allen J. Pfannenstiel, September 7, 1964 – June 8, 2018.

His graduation picture from 1982.  My favorite.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Old-Time Radio

I bought my 1988 Pontiac 6000 Safari in Traverse City, Michigan, in January 1989. The first radio preset on it was 88.7 FM WIAA, the classical music station from the Interlochen Center for the Arts. The last time I was able to play it in the wagon was in October 1995 when Allen and I moved to New Mexico, and I haven’t driven it there since. Thanks to modern technology, I downloaded their streaming app to my phone, so on Saturday with the help of a charging cord plugged into the cigarette lighter and a Cup-Phone, for the first time in nearly thirty years the music of Interlochen Public Radio wafted through my station wagon.

Miami hasn’t had a classical station in over ten years, and while it may not be the full-tilt stereo surround sound of a modern system, I’ll take it.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

On This Day

Thirty-nine years ago today I met Allen.  He changed my life.

We were together for fifteen years, through all sorts of adventures in many different places, and when we separated, we still remained close even when he was back in Colorado and I was in Florida. He died peacefully on June 8, 2018, still in love, and he has been with me ever since that first dance: in my heart and in many of my plays, including “A Tree Grows in Longmont,” the story of two people together and apart.

I will always call you sweetheart.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Spring Break

I get the week off, like the rest of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.  Unlike this kid, I’m not going anywhere.

That photo was taken in March 1968 at Aspen Highlands. I was fifteen. I know it was 1968 because I’m wearing dorky horn-rimmed glasses that I only wore for that one year.

Spring skiing was an annual thing in those days.  But one year we went to Jamaica because my brother had broken his leg, and I was bit by the tropical bug. I got rid of my skis and cold-weather gear when I moved back to Florida in 2001 and haven’t looked back.

I’ll be on a spring break schedule here, too.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Happy Friday

All good things…

I had hoped that my submission to the Inge Center’s New Play Lab would be chosen, but it was not, and since the festival has discontinued the scholars’ conference, I won’t be presenting a paper. So, for the first time since 1991, I will not be going to the William Inge Theatre Festival.

I cannot count the number of people I’ve met and gotten to know and admire in my thirty-plus years of visiting Independence, Kansas; this small town in the middle of the prairie, a town that Inge wrote about in many of his works, including “Picnic” and “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” even if he changed the names. On those trips I learned much about why Inge wrote the plays he did and the people in them, and I became a better writer, and, I hope, a better person for having been around the people who came to that place to honor a man who often felt shunned by that world.

I owe a debt of thanks to the memory of JoAnn Kirchmaier, Inge’s niece and a close family friend from childhood. It was she who first took me to the festival and introduced me to so many people and her telling them that I was a hell of a playwright. Thank you, JoAnn. And thank you, Jackson Bryer, my scholarly mentor, roommate, ride-sharer, and die-hard Yankee fan.

Staying at the Apple Tree Inn was an experience in itself: rooming across the hall from JoAnn and her daughters Paula and Kim, sitting in the lobby and chatting with Edward Albee, staying up all hours and singing old songs with Pat Hingle and Shirley Knight, sharing memories of summer stock theatre in Traverse City with Keir Dullea, driving Christopher Durang and John Augustine around town in my rented Mustang, meeting Robert Anderson and mistaking him for a bartender, laughing with Jerry Lawrence and Will Willoughby, meeting the playwrights and their friends and families, and having the distinct honor — not to mention the shivering stage fright — of chairing a panel on the Circle Rep Theatre with Lanford Wilson and Marshall W. Mason, Conchata Ferrell, Judd Hirsch, Tanya Berezin, and Zane Lasky who were on the stage with me. (I did get them to sign the published copy of my dissertation.)

I have wonderful memories of the years when the festival was produced by the irrepressible Peter Ellenstein, who made it an international event and brought in amazing talent to honor the works of so many playwrights, scholars, actors, directors and designers who made theatre thrive in America and around the world. He was succeeded by Karen Carpenter and later by Hannah Joyce who brought the festival the New Play Lab and introduced me to some amazing new writers with so many different voices and talents. I was honored to have two plays presented in the first years of the Lab. It was a chance to make new friends that I admire and know that I will be seeing them at other places, and hopefully sharing the stage with them. Each of you made me a better writer, whether you know it or not… or want to take credit for it.

The festival is going in a new direction now, and for me it’s time to remember the springtime in the prairie (and the occasional tornado). I have a lot of tangible mementos as well: Festival t-shirts that over the years have gone from medium to XXL (I started going when I was in my 30’s, after all), and a large collection of coffee mugs as well as an entire bookshelf of plays signed by the honorees from Edward Albee to Lynn Nottage.

I’d like to think that it’s not goodbye, it’s just intermission, but whatever happens, I wish the festival and the good people who make it happen the best for all they do to keep theatre alive and growing in the name of a man who deserves the honor they bestow on him.

END OF PLAY.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Bon Voyage

The last Boeing 747 rolled out this week.  Sam Howe Verhovek has a remembrance of the Queen of the Skies.

Some legends really are true, and indeed it is the case that two men on an Alaskan fishing trip in the mid-1960s struck a bargain that wound up starting the era of the jumbo jetliner, which democratized air travel in ways that are hard to appreciate today.

“If you build it, I’ll buy it,” said Juan Trippe, the head of Pan American World Airways.

“If you buy it, I’ll build it,” countered Bill Allen, the president of the Boeing Airplane Company.

Remarkably, barely three years after a handshake agreement, the Boeing 747 rolled out of a giant factory a bit north of Seattle. It quickly made global air travel more affordable than it had ever been, fulfilling Trippe’s vision of a world where plumbers and schoolteachers, not just the well-heeled, could think about taking their families to London or Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo.

This week, 53 years after the first Pan Am passenger flights between New York and London, the 1,574th — and last — Boeing 747 had its ceremonial send-off and took to the skies. This ultimate example of the famous airliner has a depiction on its tail of Atlas holding the world atop his shoulders, as the logo of the cargo and charter carrier Atlas Air Worldwide. How appropriate, for the 747 created a worldwide web long before there was a World Wide Web.

As the last of the giants leaves the nest, it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge the 747’s role in aviation history, not to mention the ways in which it symbolized an era when American manufacturing still seemed to be able to pull off anything, including a trip to the moon.

The 747 was nearly three times the size and capacity of any jet airliner at the time, and with that distinctive double-decker bulge, it certainly looked like none of its predecessors. (The hump, by the way, was an act of engineering genius: It allows the plane to open up on hinges at its nose, creating a huge cavity eight feet high and nearly 12 feet wide. That is what has made it a huge success as a freighter.)

Some professional pilots said the plane was so big and so heavy that it would never get off the ground — literally. It did fly, of course, though even today one can be forgiven for watching this mammoth humpback lumber down a runway and wondering how in the world the thing will ever get aloft. All told, 747s have carried more than six billion passengers about 60 billion nautical miles, the rough equivalent of 144,000 trips to the moon and back.

But aside from its engineering superlatives and its military variant’s star turn in Hollywood and as the president’s airplane, what the 747 ultimately accomplished was more profound. In bringing air travel to the masses, it further shrank our world and allowed for a degree of human connection that was simply unthinkable for prior generations.

For many, cheap air travel gave the human heart a much wider range of choices, as people living on opposite coasts or even in different countries discovered they could start and sustain long-distance relationships in a way that was simply not conceivable in the past. More prosaically, it gave the human appetite wider choices, be it just-picked kiwis from New Zealand or fresh Copper River salmon from Alaska. Unhelpfully, it also helped viruses to travel with ease across the globe.

All of this didn’t start with the 747, of course. The Boeing 707, the iconic leading airliner of the early Jet Age, had its own important role. (One example: Hawaii had just 171,367 visitors in 1958, the year before Pan Am started flying the 707 to Honolulu. By 1970, the 747’s inaugural year, that figure was up to 1.75 million.)

But it was the 747 that brought worldwide travel within reach for hundreds of millions of people. Today, air travel is a victim of its own success, and most of us hardly give more thought to flying on an airplane than we do to taking a bus; we may even consider the former a more miserable experience.

Anyone who got caught in the Southwest Airlines holiday meltdown may not appreciate this sentiment, but overall air travel today remains something of a miracle. Whether you need to get to Paris or Pasco, you can usually do so in a matter of hours, at a price that allows you to think about taking such a trip in the first place and with an astonishing degree of confidence that you’ll get there safely.

The “Queen of the Skies” is passing out of fashion because nimbler, more energy efficient jetliners with two engines — rather than the 747’s four — have come along to do a better job of getting people from point to point internationally.

In fact, the biggest challenge facing the aviation industry today isn’t how to move passengers around better. The existential question for airliner manufacturers and airlines alike is whether they can do it in a way that’s better for the planet. Aviation takes a frightful environmental toll, and for most of us, the single most significant thing we could do to fight climate change is simply to stop flying. The industry is working hard on solutions, but aviation remains one of the most difficult activities to decarbonize, for pretty obvious reasons.

Gravity is a difficult thing to overcome, and no battery yet known to man could possibly get a modern jet airliner across the Atlantic Ocean from Kennedy to Heathrow. Aviation engineers truly accomplished the phenomenal more than half a century ago when they met the challenge concocted by those two guys fishing in Alaska. Today’s airplane designers should use the story of the Boeing 747’s success as inspiration for the great task they now face of building an airliner that’s not only fast and affordable and safe, but green as well.

My first flight on a 747 was in June 1971 on Iberia Airlines’ inaugural 747 flight from Montreal to Madrid, which is why I chose that photo at the top of the post.  My last flight was on Christmas Day 1985 with Allen on a TWA flight from Chicago to London, a happenstance occurrence because Continental made us miss our connection on Iceland Air.  I’ve flown on many different types of planes countless times before and after, but as anyone who has been aboard one, a 747 was different.  Not just because it was huge, but because it was graceful and elegant both on the ground and in the air.  Watching one take off was like watching an elegant crane take to the air, seemingly defying gravity as it lifts off.

Lufthansa is the last airline that flies 747’s to Miami, and I’ve seen them arrive and depart (usually while stuck in traffic on the Dolphin Expressway).  It’s good to know that while they’re not building any more of them, they will still be flying.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Happy Birthday, Sam

By my reckoning, today would be Sam’s 34th birthday. He came to live with me and Allen on April 22, 1989, and according to the vet who examined him for us, he was about eight weeks old, so we made his birthday February 1, 1989.

I still make room for him on the bed.

B&W Sam Edited 11-26-03

Monday, January 23, 2023

Dramatic Memories

Fifteen years ago tonight “Can’t Live Without You” opened for six performances in New York at Manhattan Rep.

It was my first New York production, and it was the first full-length that I had written in over twenty years. Since then it’s gone on to be produced at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton, Florida, in 2019, and published in 2022 by Next Stage Press. I will always be grateful to Rachel Charlop-Powers for being the force of nature behind it, and to the cast that included Rachel, Tom Pilutik, Gary Lee Mahmoud, Mary Fassino, and the late Will Poston, all directed by Adam Natale, for bringing it to life. “Hope is my greatest weakness.”