The Gaudy Valley, a story from my brush with gangsters

The-Diamond-as-Big-as-the-Ritz-320x448Any day is a good day to re-read The Diamond As Big as the Ritz. And today, after four days fighting a vicious cough that I thought was going to choke the life out of me, seemed a perfect one. Mild skies, happy life, good work flow, happiness. And this book!.

First, I love how it portrays what might as well be today’s one percenters. Here is a description of the blithe children of the richest man in the world:

“A chaste and consistent selfishness ran like a pattern through their every idea.”

Doesn’t that just sound like some people you have read about on the news lately? Oh yes, it does. Face it. Read it again. A chaste and consistent selfishness ran like a pattern through their every idea.  Fantastic.

Then, there is the delicious pure language, like water falling in the sun. Fitzgerald was just so good when he was good, and he was usually good:

The Montana sunset lay between two mountains like a gigantic bruise from which dark arteries spread themselves over a poisoned sky.

It sounds overdone, but in context it is just beautiful.   AND I think I might have found in these short pages a title for short story: “The Gaudy Valley.” Oh, yes.

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Big Truck, a little study of power. With Aurelie Sheehan

On the podcast, a woman learns the joy of power by riding in her man’s Big Truck. Can she ever go back? And what is the cost? And how does she suddenly feel about the little car drivers?? Give Me the Truck or Give Me Nothing….  by Aurelie Sheehan

 

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I Love You, Please Keep Quiet

A woman confronts her childhood abuser, with the loving support of her attentive protective husband. Yet over time as that woman speaks about her abuse, and writes about it, that husband becomes increasingly uncomfortable. What to do when support isn’t quite support.  Stay silent out of love for the other? Or go and tell one’s story?  A fresh take on the outcome of trusting our loved ones with our truths.

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On Joseph Brodsky and suffering through, by Melissa Green

Some days it seems that we have seldom lived in darker times. But writers such as Melissa Green, now living in Boston, are here to remind us about history, dark history — and that if others can survive and resist it, maybe we can, too.

Here is Melissa, a revered poet and memoirist, on her friendship with Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky. Brodsky was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 after much persecution. He had been  condemned to a Soviet mental institution and spent five years in an Arctic labor camp before and gaining asylum in the United States. Here, at the Dia Foundation in New York City, Melissa Green connects both to him and to history and an entire line of Russian poets who persevered through unthinkable suffering due to the regimes they lived under.

 

Melissa  is the author of three books of poetry, The Squanicook Eclogues, Fifty-Two and Magpiety: New and Selected Poems; and two memoirs, Color Is the Suffering of Light and The Linen Way. Soundings, a book of twenty-two essays about her work by prominent American poets, edited by Sumita Chakraborty and published by Arrowsmith Press, was released in December 2016. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Trump Threatens to Sue My Ass, Part 2

Here again, because it’s, er, timely, is my post on Trump threatening to tear me to bits when I was 20.

I thought I should repost:
Trump 86

It was on the phone. I was twenty and an intern reporter at TIME.  Trump was being sued by a hotel chain.  I had to call Trump, and ask him about it, and straight away he started calling me  “Babe.” It was “Babe” this and  “Babe” that.  His voice was gold — a veritable sunbath– (or was it a golden shower? let’s add that January 2017).

At any rate, he spoke to me, a 20 year old reporter and he a far older ‘businessman’  as if he and I were oh so close, even intimate.  Such is the method of charming insolent un-serious men.

Then I read aloud to him, still on the phone, as a TIME reporter in New York, one of the allegations against him, which I had before me in print in the Affadavit.

You should have felt it. The change in atmosphere — even on the phone — when a man such as he drops his charm.

“You Print That,” Trump told me, “and I’ll Sue You.”

He’d sue me —  a 20 year old intern, a Columbia student, an almost girl reading from a legal affadavit that did not please him, did not match his idea of himself….

I wish I could say it was the last time I heard a man turn on a dime, see the flash of virulence beneath the charm. I wish I had learned my lesson, right then.

These men — these charming powerful men of a certain kind – how many times must they reveal themselves before we finally dump them?  Keep Trying, I say. Keep trying until it takes.

 

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To Stay or to Go? Siel Ju Contemplates

I had a boyfriend like this once. We almost married, but he always countered his loving remarks with not so loving ones. For example, he told me once, repeatedly, that he wished I would die. Which I just could not get over.  A brother of mine remarked that people say things they don’t mean when they are angry. But I guess what’s important is whether or not the person later regrets saying those negative things — or doing certain things — and says they are are sorry.  My bf was not sorry about the things that bothered me,  and told me so. I regretted leaving him. It was one of the most painful things I have had to do. But I didn’t feel I had a choice.

At any rate, in the latest podcast, writer Siel Ju addresses this in a slightly more subtle way, a way that I think most of us must have have experienced in our lifetimes. In her case, she says, her lover seems to be two different people – so she struggles with knowing  which is the real person, and whether she should stay or go?

Here it is: “Acceptance,” with a little advice from me on how to tell whether someone is a “keeper” or not…

Siel is also the author of Cake Time, a novel in stories that will be out from Red Hen Press in April 2017, and two poetry chapbooks. Her stories and poems appear in ZYZZYVA, The Missouri Review (Poem of the Week), The Los Angeles Review, Denver Quarterly, and other places. She gives away a book every month at sielju.com.

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Here was this chance to break through that coldness and do something decent

Episode 13 of 52 Men the Podcast.

“The Difficulty of Being Good” is a story about the desire and need to help other people — in this case, two separate strangers, both met on the street at different times, and both men. Do we help them selflessly, or to help ourselves? And how do they feel about it? Author Eliza Factor is the founder of Extreme Kids & Crew, a playspace for children with disabilities in Brooklyn. She has published two novels Love Maps and The Mercury Fountain with Akashic Books.

(Akashic, full disclosure) also published my (as Louise Wareham) 2004 Since You Ask, the James Jones Award winning novel about a girl working with her doctor to recover from sexual abuse.

Eliza’s memoir, Strange Beauty, about life with her son, will be published by Parallax Press in the fall of 2017. See her website for more: elizafactor.net. Author photo by Micaela Walker

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How to Conform – Growing up with the (NZ) Patriarchy

The newest podcast is close to my heart, coming from a young New Zealand woman — well, 36 — who describes being pushed into playing sports by her teacher and boys. Such a delicious simple explication of the way authority works on our guilt, shame and desire to please despite our wishes to do our own thing.

Interesting in terms of the New Zealand Patriarchy, under which I myself grew up — even though I left New Zealand at age six, my parents were extremely patriarchal in their attitudes and lessons.  And also interesting, as I mention above, in terms of school and society conformism.

Will never forget leaving my laced up Australian public school — with uniforms, prefects, assembly, and caning for boys for my raucous new Manhattan private school where kids wore what they wanted, called their teachers by their first names and — often — shockingly to  me, swore at their elders…. No wonder my New York teachers said my brothers and I were a “quiet joy” to have in class — not that that lasted forever….

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Triptych Tales … young women on men

Three new podcasts up on 52 Men the Podcast in the past 24 hours; all young women with wild and differing voices:

Rebecca Baumann reads her startling story on the male gaze, expectancy and giving with “The Chocolate Box.” A Southern California native, Rebecca is the Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Review and Publicist at Red Hen Press.podcast-photo-1

Lisa Locascio reads “The Pearl Sings To The Oyster Knife,” from her chapbook-in-progress Transmigration Spellwork. Lisa is Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University, co-publisher of Joyland Magazine, and editor at 7×7, a magazine of ekphrastic collaboration between artist and writers. Her novel, Jutland Gothic, will be published by Grove Atlantic in 2018.lisa_locascio_portraitbyfrancesfdenny_-4

And Megan Giddings reads “Three Boyfriends” originally published in “Passages North” is a graduate of Indiana University’s MFA program and the co-Fiction Editor of The Offing. Her chapbooks, Arcade Seventeen (TAR) and The Most Dangerous Game (The Lettered Streets Press) were published in December 2016. She has short stories forthcoming or that have been recently published in Arts & Letters, Best Small Fictions 2016, Black Warrior Review, and Pleiades. Special thanks to Darcy Cosper who introduced me to her through her awesome work at The Offing. megancontributorphoto-2-4-1

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Silence in the Museum now up on Soundcloud

mia-funk-on-52-men-the-podcast

Silence in the Museum: a brilliant tale told from the point of view of a woman in a painting. Mia Funk is a world renowned painter whose work you will probably recognize. See her website MiaFunk.com.

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