Saturday, January 4, 2014


OK, I guess I’ve held off on commenting on the whole “year end/new year” thing long enough.  On the internet (where else?) I saw a meme of questions about the year that was.  I’ve freely selected 25, since “25 questions” seems about right.  I don’t know that they add up to any kind of “portrait of the year” as I lived it, but maybe they add up to a portrait of me at this moment reflecting on the year, as steered by some anonymous questioner.  Somewhere between an inquisition, an interview, and a random questionnaire.  “What is your favorite color?”  “Blu—no, yellooooo ahhhhhhh.”

If it were really “an interview” there would be follow-up questions to the answers.  “What dya mean he had bullet holes in his mirrors?”

As The Go-Gos would say, “Our lips are sealed.”  (Nice double entendre, girls.)

1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions? 

There were ten, delivered in minimalist fashion; here they are and my estimation of success in "keeping" them (as opposed to making them get out on their own?).

1. Get over it. Mostly. 2. Get on with it. Yes. 3. Get out more. Somewhat. 4. Go on less. In a sense. 5. Lose more. Yes, then no. 6. Make more. No. 7. Read more. Maybe. 8. See more. I think so. 9. Do more. Not really. 10. Write well. Mostly.

2. Did anyone close to you die?
Chris Peditto, an old friend from Philly passed away, and I was saddened by the death of Lou Reed.

3. What countries did you visit?
Jeeze, I can’t even claim visiting unusual states!

4. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
It’s unlikely that any date in 2013 will remain etched in my memory as I can’t think of any now, four days into 2014.

5.What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing my book’s final manuscript, including corrections and indexing: Bob Dylan: American Troubadour.

6.What was your biggest failure?
Not finishing the manuscript in time for pre-Christmas publication.

7.Did you suffer illness or injury?
My back went out, in a more mild form than its worst, in February (I’ll never shovel snow again). And my younger brother, Jerry, suffered a major illness that surprised and worried us all.

8.What was the best thing you bought?
I guess my new leather jacket.

9.Whose behavior merited celebration?
My wife for footing her god-daughter’s first year in college and her eldest grandson’s Outward Bound camp experience in MN; my sister and brother-in-law for all their help to Jerry during recovery; and I’d like to thank my very helpful editorial assistant, Jehanne. And, since the Giants stunk so bad, the Eagles for winning the division.

10.Whose behavior made you appalled?
Eli Manning, for the worst professional season imaginable, and Mike Tomlin for that stunt at the Ravens’ game. And Ted Cruz, for everything.

11. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Nick Cave’s “Mermaids

12.Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
a) Happier, marginally. b) Fatter, and not happy about it. c) About the same.

13.What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading books; publishable writing.

14.What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting time, and gaining weight.

15. How did you spend Christmas?
I visited 3 of my 4 siblings, and my sister’s husband, in New Castle, Delaware, with my wife and daughter. My brother Jerry made a stuffed turkey Christmas eve (drool) and a ham for Christmas. I gave gifts to my siblings and daughter, and visited my god-daughter, her siblings, and parents in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, the day after Christmas, where I gave gifts to my god-daughter, her and her fiancé, her mother, father, 2 brothers and sister. I then visited my stepson and his family in Collegeville, PA, and gave gifts to his three sons (including their first collective viewing of Gremlins). I drank well and over-ate during all visits, and in Delaware watched a slew of holiday flavorites, including The Simpsons’ Christmas, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, Scrooge, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Gathering. And my daughter got a new dress (black, of course) she looks great in. My sister gave me a bag for carrying bottles of wine, and my brother Eric gave me a six of Tell-Tale Heart IPA from Baltimore (do they know me, or what?), which contains "some special ingredient that makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass" (and I don't mean alcohol). My god-daughter gave me The Godfather on Bluray. "I don't apologize, that's my life."

16. What was the best book you read?
Anna Karenina (re-read), or Thomas Pavel’s The Lives of the Novel because it got me thinking again about narrative form.

17. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Robert Johnson’s King of the Delta Blues (1961).  And Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes (1973). And it was great to get all those newly released tracks from Dylan’s sessions in 1970 on Another Self Portrait.  Newish band?  Deerhunter’s Monomania (2013).

18. What did you want and get?
Some good students, especially Sus.

19. What did you want and not get?
Enough students to take my summer Ulysses course, missed for the first time in six years, I think.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?
“Favorite” is a rather strong word. I guess Frances Ha, of what I’ve seen so far. I liked its nouvelle vague aura, and it made me laugh at its, to my eyes, accurate portrayal of those people in New York younger than my daughter, the ones she rolls her eyes about.

21. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The great season at Yale Summer Cabaret 2013, for which we were one of the season sponsors, led by Co-Artistic Directors Dustin Wills and Chris Bannow, and featuring a great run of plays.

22.What kept you sane?
That some people appreciate stuff I write.

23.What political issue stirred you the most?
The ludicrous antics of the U.S. Congress.

24.Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
When your daughter reaches the age of your wife when you first got to know her (32), you’ve run a personal trajectory. The lesson? We are all subject to time, and becoming is what we do until our time ends.

25.Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
The present's not that pleasant
Just a lot of things to do
I thought the past would last me
But the darkness got that too.Leonard Cohen, "Darkness" (2012)

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