Night Train To Shanghai

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June 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 





  Night Train To Shanghai And Other Memories Of China 

Gerald Nicosia
Grizzly Peak Press

Gerald Nicosia is probably better known for his non-fiction–Memory Babe is still the major work on Jack Kerouac and his Home To War is a major opus on the Vietnam War–but he also is a real poet, very much in the San Francisco tradition of Ferlinghetti, Patchen, Rexroth and Ginsberg–except those guys are now mostly gone.

I was amazed at how viscerally I reacted to the cover of Night Train to Shanghai And Other Memories of China, showing a train track running within inches of worker’s hovels, in a place that looked like all the other dreary places on earth from Camden, New Jersey to Downey, California.

Of course looking to the east was the hallmark of the Beats in the ’50s, who thought the wisdom from the other side of the globe much surpassed our own. For many of us children from that era, China was the land at the other end of the hole we sometimes tried to dig in our suburban front yards. Nicosia looks at China through those eyes he might have had climbing out the other end of the tunnel for the first time This slim book of poems is better than a thousand long-winded pieces of journalism–he makes the east scrutable and real, with all its anomalies. Read more


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June 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Sir John Mills, wife Mary, and Hayley

Sir John Mills, wife Mary, & daughter Hayley Mills

By Bob Vickrey

Ringo Starr was staring at me with a mischievous grin and I wasn’t really sure why. We sat on couches facing one another in the Green Room of the Tonight Show as he waited for the call to make his onstage appearance.

I was there accompanying British actor Sir John Mills, and his wife Mary, who were in town promoting his recent memoir, “Up in the Clouds, Gentlemen Please.” That evening’s show had a distinctive international flavor that featured appearances by Starr, Mills, and Swedish-born actress Britt Ekland.

Visiting a television waiting room while accompanying a touring author wasn’t entirely new to me, but this occasion was considerably more extravagant, and quite unlike most of my escort duties of the past. As a publisher’s representative, part of my job was to shepherd our company’s touring authors about town to bookstore signings and media appearances. I normally spent more time in green rooms of local morning or mid-day talk shows than national nighttime venues. Read more

Postcards From Gaza

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June 1, 2014 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Photo by Mohammad Arafat

By Mohammad Arafat

Gaza is a place of many scenes that would create many postcards with vivid images. It also is a place of many tragedies, mixed with many happy and even magical moments as well. Our tragedies are Shakespearian in depth—yes, there is torture and killing and bombs and being besieged. But even all those things can’t take the beauty from the place we live in.

Now when we’re talking politics, that’s almost always bad. But if I speak about the beauty of this place, that’s another matter. I flipped through the many pictures in my mind—the sad, the happy, the good and the bad. Finally I settled on that picture of this place which shows that the atmosphere of this Holy City is based on a beautiful simple life. I want to share the fabulously sweet side of Gaza. Read more

Honey Receives A Copy Of Dear Mad’m

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June 1, 2014 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 




By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

A package arrived in the mail with my cousin Little Barbara’s address in the top left hand corner.   I found a note inside the book in the package.  Little Barbara wrote she and her sister Daina thought I would enjoy reading a book about an eighty-year old woman who begins a new chapter in her life in the mountains of Trinity County, near where our Aunt Big Barbara taught in Blanchard Flat School in Hoosimbim Mountain during the Great Depression. 

I’m approaching seventy, and my cousins approach eighty.  This book seemed like it would be just the ticket to a new way to look at growing old.

What reading the book — and then following up with some research —  turned out to be was the revelation of a life that vividly soared without a safety net over a ranch in Stockton, literary San Francisco and a remote cabin near Happy Camp in Trinity County.   The author was not an eighty-year old; she was close to ninety when she finished writing it. Read more