My Autumn Serenade on JBR

19 09 2015

Come Sunday my novel…dcover


will be featured on Julie’s Book Review. Go here to see what they have to say about it…

Not one of the Songs of Icarus because it was recorded after the events in the story take place, Autumn Serenade is a favorite of mine from the album that paired Johnny Hartman with John Coltrane. If you have a special person in your life there is nothing more intimate to listen to than Hartman’s baritone vocalizations and Coltrane’s tenor improvisations. The autumnal equinox is this week so find that “special one”, listen to a masterpiece, and then read a book. I think you know what I’m getting at.

Risen from the Dead in Denver

11 09 2015

It’s been 2 months to the day since my last post on this blog. Today is 9/11. Not the best day to rise from the dead but that’s the “afterlife advice” I received from Andy Garcia. If you seen the film you’ll understand.


After a harrowing 4 hour plane ride from Cancun clutching a nitro inhaler to prevent another heart attack like the one I had in Merida I arrived in Denver 2 months ago. A triple bypass and aortic valve replacement was performed 5 days later by Dr. Jason Shofnos of St. Joseph’s Hospital (one of the top hospitals in the US for cardiac disease treatment). I owe my life to Dr. Shofnos, my 2 sons Bill and Mike, and Virginia Carrasco Silva. There are many others who helped me recuperate physically and psychically. Thanks to all of you for your energy and prayers.

I didn’t choose Denver, it chose me. My grandmother always said I had “the luck of the Irish.” She was right. Here I sit today in my top floor apartment with a view of Benedict Park. I can be in downtown Denver without a car in less than 15 minutes. There’s a gym in the apartment complex where I work out regularly. If you know me you might wonder but it’s not the Jack Kerouac Building (there is an apartment complex in Denver named after him). Growing up in Philly I used to hang in RIttenhouse Square drinking tea and cinnamon-sprinkled cider at the Gilded Cage and the Proscenium with my beatnik friends during high school. Later on in college it was Dirty Frank’s and McGillin’s Pub drinking adult beverages that took me back to my lost adolescence and that lost Beat Generation.

In the 50’s in Denver it was the Beat Generation…. . Now it’s Hipsters…

So where do I fit in? As usual I don’t. What I am doing though is emphasizing what I think is my best work since I’m still alive and well in the Mile High City. Julie’s Book Review will be featuring my novel “Songs of Icarus” beginning September 20.


Adios to Mi Morenita de mi Corazon, Merida and Mexico for only a while I hope

11 07 2015


Carson McCullers wrote a first novel that has become a classic. One line from the book reads…

“Your heart going to beat hard enough to kill you because you don’t love and don’t have peace.”

Lucky for me I have both. Tomorrow I leave Merida for Denver for a TBD heart surgery. If I could afford the surgery I’d do it here. Imo Mexican medicine is that good.

The love and peace I have are from Mi Morenita, the love of my life, and the 2 best sons a man can have. Hopefully you will hear again from Merida’s Night Writer.

My Modern Day Modest Proposal

22 06 2015


Jonathon Swift wrote one of the best pieces of English satire in 1729 in reaction to England’s treatment of the Irish. I read it in college having chosen to major in English and wanting to be a writer myself. Without knowing the background of the work I initially thought Swift was seriously proposing cannibalism. Go here to find out why…

My ‘modest proposal’ is in reaction to Donald Trump’s announced attempt to become the next POTUS and the number of racist hate crimes and police brutality happening there. I left Los Angeles for a variety of reasons. One of the primary was that the country, not Cali or LA, had become a place I’d rather be from rather than living in. I did it with a lot of thoughts, one of them being that I might live to regret it. The past 3 years have been just the opposite. No regrets, just amazement at the wrong-headedness coming out of the richest country in the world. If things keep going the way they are, the US will be the richest country with the lowest per capita income ever. Maybe it already is. As Edith Piaf sang, “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
I propose that there be a election in which Donald Trump run unopposed. Everyone who votes for him will then be moved to a now vacant spot on earth in which they can live. We’ll have to find a suitable place but that shouldn’t be too hard. We can consult Dante’s “Inferno” for the level of Hell best suited to them. We can call it Los Estados Unidos Contra Todo.

As for those who think that the killings in Charleston were anti-Christian rather than racist I suggest they listen to my all-time favorite “Modest Proposal.” If there were a country of undervalued artists I’d move there and vote for Mose Allison for President…

Why Review Books?

20 06 2015

I’ve started reviewing books for Julies Book Review. You can find it here… It’s a good way to read books for free and meet the people who write them. Some of the books are good, some not. Here’s what I had to say about one of the best I’ve read so far…



Review of Temporary Saints by Mark Warhus

Temporary Saints

Mark Warhus

One of the benefits of reviewing for JBR is to come across something I would never read, but

once I do I’m glad I did. “Temporary Saints” is one of those books. I am not religious; I am a

Taoist knowledgeable about Christianity.

First and foremost “Temporary Saints” is very well ­written with an extraordinary plot. The author

knows of what he speaks and has created ordinary people living through some not ­so ­ordinary

circumstances. Familiarity with “The Lives of the Saints” was helpful in getting what the author ‘s

book structure was all about but it’s not necessary to understand what’s going on. The sane and

the crazed are alive and well in this novel.

Sarah is the temporary saint. She is found one night levitating in a Catholic parish church by the

housekeeper and pastor. Saying she was sent by God to deliver a message prompts the pastor

to call the archbishop. The archbishop brings in Michael a gay psychotherapist to evavluate

Sarah’s state of mind and health.

Thus begins the well ­told tale. Throw in some miracles, the power of the media, the struggles of

a divorced couple with a teenage son and a gay father, along with controversy between

conservative and liberal­ minded Christians about the place of homosexuals in organized religion

and you have a brew of laughter and hatred that will make the judgmental person squirm.

The book is spot on in its depiction of reactions to the clash between Christian liberals and

conservatives and the challenge of being a saint in a secular society. If you suspend disbelief

long enough for this excellent quick read you’ll be glad you did. I am.


You can buy “Temporary Saint” here…

Icarus’ Favorite Song – Over the Mountain, Across the Sea

22 05 2015

Growing up in Philly “American Bandstand” was in our faces everyday in the 50’s. What we didn’t know was that other cities had their own version of the first American teenage dance show. Philly’s “Bandstand”(the original name of the show) started in 1952 showing short movies of music – precursors to the music videos of today. Milt Grant’s “Record Hop” was the Washington, DC version of AB. Here’s Johnnie and Joe singing their biggest hit on his show…

“Over the Mountain, Across the Sea” was every dreamer boy’s favorite song at the end of the 50’s, Jim Collins the hero of my novel included. It captured the yearning for far away romance. Jim knew little back then about how life was outside the neighborhood. Things are different now that we’re all connected by Smartphone, Androids and tablets.

There’s a 3rd voice on the record. Rex Garvin wrote the song, played the piano(an integral piece of the song’s impact) and was part of the vocal backup. Joe Rivers, the lead vocalist, was his friend and Johnnie Louise Richardson, the female vocalist was the record company owner’s daughter. By the way, J&S Records was owned by Zelma “Zell” Sanders. A woman record company owner was pretty unheard of back then.

The popular wisdom holds that everybody wanted to be one of the dancers on “American Bandstand.” The popular wisdom is wrong. The teenagers of the 50’s and 60’s had mixed feelings about it. Fictionally, some of Jim Collins’ buddies resent the fame those kids got on TV. Truthfully, two of the most popular dancers on “American Bandsatnd”, Eddie Kelly and Bunny Gibson, had to change schools to get away from the bullying and adult narrow mindedness of the time.

Read all about it here…


Song #2 from “Songs of Icarus” and the Reason Why…

13 05 2015


The book can be purchased here…

Why did I write a novel set in 1959?
First off it was a great year…”Kind of Blue”, “Mack the Knife”, “Lonely Boy”, “Mr. Blue”, “Mingus Ah Um”, “Come Dance with Me”, “Kansas City”, and “Beyond the Sea” to name a few songs popular that year.
The power of music is that it evokes emotion. Music heard at a specific time and place can make us “Alive Inside” for years after. I’m not talkin’ about “golden oldies” or “oldies but goodies.” The power and magic of music is therapeutic. I hope I’m wrong but I worry that the music of today does not have the soul of the music of the past. I’m not talkin’ “soul music” I’m talkin’ music that speaks to the soul. I listen to Cassandra Wilson’s tribute to Billie Holiday “Coming Forth by Day” and recognize the talent of the singer, the musicians and arrangements but none of it touches me like Billie does. I attribute that to an emphasis on technical production rather than reaching deep within the human psyche for the feeling of “Good Morning, Heartache” or “Strange Fruit” in the way of Lady Day.



What’s missing from today’s music? Artists may be subconsciously relying on technology rather than their own talent and emotional depth.

That’s where Icarus comes in. The meaning of the myth itself has been argued over the centuries. There’s even an Icarus complex in psychology textbooks. Daedalus told Icarus 2 things…don’t fly too high…don’t fly too low. I’d call that middle-of-the-road advice. He didn’t heed the advice and for that I, like many other artists, admire him. Anne Sexton wrote…

To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Triumph

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well:
larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that feel back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

Matisse’ Icarus is a puzzling image. Is he flying or falling? I’m not sure it matters in the end. I paraphrase Matisse’ words written on the page across from Icare in “Jazz”…upon graduation young people should fly to get another perception of the world they live in.


At the end of Chapter 1, Jim Collins, a modern day Icarus, wishes for something he doesn’t have.

SONG #2…

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