Mrs Morrison's Hotel

The 100% personal official blog for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, author, Celtic priestess, retired rock critic, wife of Jim

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I was, wait, sorry, that's "David Copperfield". Anyway, I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, went to school in upstate NY and came straight back to Manhattan to live. Never lived anywhere else. Never wanted to. Got a job as a rock journalist, in the course of which I met and married a rock star (yeah, yeah, conflict of interest, who cares). Became a priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition, and (based on sheer longevity) one of the most senior Witches around. Began writing my Keltiad series. Wrote a memoir of my time with my beloved consort (Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison). See Favorite Books below for a big announcement...The Rennie Stride Mysteries. "There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing that which you do not possess in yourself." ---Walt Whitman (Also @ and

Friday, April 28, 2006

Clams on the Half-wit

Okay, I'm sorry, I just can’t restrain myself any longer...

Batshit-crazy couch assaulter Tiny Tom Cruise (otherwise known as TTC) and Blank-eyed "actress" Katie Holmes have delivered their baby Clam. Or had it delivered. Perhaps by a pillow company. No word as to whether BEAKH kept her mouth shut tight as a, well, clam during labor, as the Clams’ (otherwise known as Scientologists) religion prescribes.

All righty, then! It’s a “religion” pretty much the same way I am Queen of the Universe. It was founded by a science fiction writer! ON A BET! A BET WITH ANOTHER SCIENCE FICTION WRITER! Or so at least the beautiful myth would have it, and I do so love believing that it was...

But even if it wasn’t on a bet with a writer far his superior, it was still the work of a sci-fi hack, and the bigamistic Elron of Driveldell has been tagged by many reputable witnesses with expressing, on numerous occasions, the sentiment that why was he wasting his time on unremunerative (and badly written) scientific fiction when he could be brilliantly inventing a scientificological religion and raking in millions of—sorry—clam$.
Oh, the humanity! Oh, the clam-osity! Oh, the great galactic goober Xenu!

As a science-fiction writer myself, I feel that I have MISSED a bet here. Any science-fiction writer friends of mine want to compete with ME to invent a religion? No? Well, you’ll be sorry you didn’t, when I really AM Queen of the Universe.
I’m going to call mine Patricianism. Yes! I am! And there will be no clam worship about it, but whatever responsibly prescribed drugs you need. And chocolate will be the Sacrament. And there could be spiffy uniforms if you play your cards right. I mean, LITERALLY play your cards right. (More details to come later, perhaps, some afternoon when I’m REEEEEALLY bored...)

Oh, and OMFG, TTC wanted to eat the placenta! Though, being reportedly dyslexic, maybe he thought it was “polenta”.

TTC, or “Clambo”, as he is also affectionately known, says “Suri”, the name given to “his” defenseless infant daughter (or pillow), means “princess” in Hebrew and “rose” in Persian. Gosh, and here I always thought “Sara” or “Sarai” meant “princess” in Hebrew. In fact, people who actually SPEAK Hebrew say, uh, not so much for the Suri/princess thing. In fact, they say they've never heard of it. Obviously TTC's naming skills are on a par with his knowledge of psychiatry and post-partum depression.Though doubtless he knows FAR more Hebrew than Hebrew-speakers do, because I'm sure he's studied it as extensively as he's studied psychiatry. Or needs psychiatrizing. Did I mention “sydlexic”? Uh, sorry, “dyslexic”? Yes, I b’lieve I did.

But stop the presses! I have just learned that “Suri” means “trouser” in a language spoken in Ethiopia and it means “pig” in Punjabi. Not to mention "pickpocket" in Japanese, "pointy nose" in the southern Indian language of Todas, an epithet for Lord Krishna (ooooh, Xenu pissed!), a breed of alpaca, "anthill" in Hausa and "large sack" in Pushtu. Well, hooray for comparative nomenclature!

All this stuff I have gleaned from online commentators (and, oh, okay, maybe added to a bit). Except the polenta one, which came from my friend Michael Rosenthal. (Bet it would have been tasty with a—wait for it—CLAM sauce. Mmmm, placenta con vongole!)

Seriously, though, can there BE anyone nuttier? I somehow don’t think so. Or anyone sadder than Blank-Eyed Katie Holmes? The lights aren’t on, haven’t been for months—probably Con Ed’s disconnected the wiring by now—and we have long been aware that nobody’s home. Poor little force-fed Clam!

The Vatican is saying boycott “The DaVinci Code.” I say boycott “Midget Impossible: 3”!

[The opinions expressed herein are those of the Great God Tiggywinkle, Galactic Creator Hedgehog, and not those of the author, who has temporarily been possessed, or Tigged, and which may be supplemented in future as The Truth is further revealed to her and she progresses to various levels of Clear, er, Hedge.]


The Lizard Queen Speaks

When I came here as a fresh-faced freshman in September 1963, one of the things we were obliged to do as journalism majors was work on the Bona Venture. The first time I reported for duty in the BV office, then on the second floor of Butler Gym, there was a radio on, some local station. And I remember two songs. One was a jazzy instrumental called “Washington Square,” and the other was a rockabilly number called “The Last Days of Kinzua.”

That fall, the big political issue in these parts was the building of the Kinzua dam on the Allegheny, breaking a treaty signed by George Washington and the great Seneca chief Cornplanter and flooding thousands of acres of tribal lands.
Needless to say, there was much feeling on both sides. And this song, by Red Arrow and the Braves—I assumed they were a bunch of local white boys—was all about it. It was racist, a bit, yeah, but it was also sympathetic to the Seneca, and it was the first thing that really lit my activism fire. Of course, today no white boys would dare use a movie-Indian tom-tom rhythm (looking at YOU, Atlanta Braves!) much less the word “redskins”, but those were different days…

Anyway, the dam was built, the lands were drowned, the Seneca, Keepers of the Western Door, were displaced. But I never forgot the song. I didn’t recall any verses; it was the hook that stuck... ”Cornplanter, Cornplanter, chief of the tribe / Where, oh, where can all your braves hide? / Cornplanter, Cornplanter, what can they do / On the last days of Kinzua?”

Every so often it would come around on the brain radio playlist—and when it recently popped up again in the rotation, I decided to search for it on the Web.
I had only the hook to go on. But I Googled it anyway, and I got one hit, just one. A guy in Australia had bought the entire backstock of a long-defunct Rochester recording studio, and “The Last Days of Kinzua” was one of the songs he had. So I emailed him and told him the story, and he emailed back, saying he’d be delighted to burn me a CD and oh by the way I was his best friend’s wife’s favorite author.

I had a copy made—and I am happy to present it to Dean Lee Coppola, at whose kind invitation I’m here tonight, and whom I first met in that very same office in Butler Gym back that very same September, and who probably heard that very same song on that very same radio. What goes around comes around and goes around some more. Somewhere, Cornplanter is smiling. Bow before the power of the Internet—or of synchronicity!

I tell this story because it neatly ties up my first Bonaventure memories with my later life, and as a novelist I just loooove stuff like that. When I came here, it was the farthest from home I’d ever been. Seventeen years old, on my own for the first time, watching my family drive away without me, I had one brief pang, and then my new roommates said Hey let’s walk to Allegany and get a burger at Sylvain’s, and I was fine. Standing still, I had achieved escape velocity. And it was good.

It was good because I knew in that moment I was on my way for real. I’d always been a writer, and I wanted to go to a journalism school, a place that would teach me how to make that talent be useful to and for me. I didn’t want pretentious creative writing courses, because I don’t believe anyone can be taught to write creatively. No. I wanted journalism. Someplace small. A beautiful location. My parents were happy that I chose Bona’s, but my parish priest warned them that sending me to a Catholic college was the worst thing imaginable, that I’d light out of the Church forever within six months.

He was sort of right and sort of wrong. For one thing, it only took about six days…from a very young age I had never had any real commitment as a Catholic, only a gunpoint religiosity. So yeah, I bolted faster than a cheetah on speed, first chance I got, but along with my true professional calling, I also found my true faith. And here was where I found them both. Which was the best thing imaginable.

How does a nice Irish Catholic girl from Long Island end up as a Celtic Pagan priestess and the wife of the most Dionysian of rock princes and the author of a science-fantasy series? It wasn’t something I’d planned; it just happened. And things generally happen because of a choice. Good or bad.

One of the good things that my force-fed Catholicism gave me was a real education. Say what you will about the dogma, if you went to Catholic school in the ’50s and ’60s, you came out very well educated indeed. True, it could be a slanted schooling—my mother, taught by Dominicans, never even heard of the Inquisition until she was in her thirties—but by today’s standards you got a classical-humanist education on a positively Jeffersonian level. Catholic schools produced not only moral and courteous people but cultured ones. Which was why I didn’t kick about being packed off here—I figured at least I could read in peace.

I was more graced in my choice than I knew: I would probably have killed Jesuits, or been killed by them, but the Franciscans, hippies of the Church, had a different ethic. That’s me in the classroom losing my religion…and my parish priest, God rest his soul, was right. The best place to go to lose your religion, any religion—or rather, to find your faith, your true faith, the faith that was meant for you, the faith that you were made for, whatever one it might be—is a religious school.

Bonaventure was beautiful then, as I’m happy to see it still is. Home for the “coeds”—for so we were known—was St. Elizabeth’s Hall (now criminally demolished), a fabulous hundred-year-old red-brick pile—dormered attics, dim high-ceilinged hallways, a spectacular double staircase of perfect period golden oak. The E came complete with in-house chapel and a cloister for the nuns who were, for their sins, assigned to look after us—and who made the best baked goods I have ever met.
I loved living there. My freshman room was a huge garret loft housing seven of us. The nun who was the freshman proctor, only a few years older than we were, slept in a cubicle in one corner. Bells rang all day long: prayer times for the nuns, chapel, breakfast, dinner, mandatory study from 8 to 10. Lights out (more bells) at 11, unless you had a room of your own, as I did my sophomore year: a tiny chamber next door to the cloister, with a Stickley desk and dresser and rocking chair—in those days and these parts, almost certainly the original thing—and a tall oak-shuttered window opening on the mountains and the river and a sunset view halfway to Ohio.

There was one TV set in the whole dorm. No stereos permitted. Demerits for unmade beds. No trousers allowed on campus, only skirts—this in the heart of the lake-effect snowbelt, the ground’s white from Halloween to Easter! It flurried the second morning I was here—the week after Labor Day. I remember a pair of nylons actually disintegrating on my legs in the subzero January cold, a cold so dry and intense it FROZE YOUR NOSE HAIRS AS YOU BREATHED.
Gentleman callers were permitted in the parlors only, within severely limited hours—and with the doors open at all times. If you wanted to leave the dorm after dinner you had to sign out and say where you were going—to campus, to Olean, to sit on the front steps—and you had to sign in even if you stayed home in your room.

There was the joy of small rebellion... I toilet-papered the Friary my first Halloween (soaped a few windows, too) and fled across campus pursued by a friar in a car. I cleverly scouted through the Rob-Fal woods and ducked into Butler to establish my alibi before venturing back to the E. And there was the night my sorority sisters and I lugged all the saint statues in St E’s down to the basement dining room—they looked quite surreal in the tiny ancient elevator, let me tell you—and lined them up outside the kitchen door with forks in their hands. For reasons that defy recollection, St. Maria Goretti was placed in a phone booth, with a handkerchief on her head and the receiver on her shoulder.
(I hope the statute of limitations has run out on these heinous offenses. But, confession is said to be good for the soul...)

I was of course here when President Kennedy was assassinated. A classmate ran into Professor Leo Keenan’s lit. class to tell us the President had been shot. We scoffed, nah, couldn’t be (at least I did), he shrugged, and we watched Uncle Leo stride away stonefaced straight up to the teletype machine in the j-room, and thought it must be true. Then I went back to the E to cry my eyes out with my roommates watching Walter Cronkite break the news. Those of us who didn’t instantly leave for Washington D.C. stayed home in the dorm, huddled together or stonily alone, in floods of tears.
Three days later, there was a splendid High Requiem Mass held in Butler Gym: black vestments and Dies Irae, men on the gym floor and women in the balcony, which oddly enough seemed on this one occasion fitting and right and even biblical—straight out of the Middle Ages, it remains one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life.
So yeah, I’d say life here had its moments.

As for our actual schooling? No fluff. My freshman schedule was Latin (along with editing, the best course I ever took for my writing), junior-year French, English literature, theology, philosophy, math, sociology and history. Sophomore year, lit. and journalism courses predominated, the French was senior-level and the Latin was literature of the Republic and the Empire. There were Saturday classes. There were 8 a.m. classes. There were 8 a.m. Saturday classes.
For the most part the teachers were friars. There was one woman on the faculty, a nun who taught logic and apologetics. There were lay profs, all male—I still remember with fondness and gratitude Leo Keenan and Malcolm Wallace and Boyd Litzinger. The friars were good, gentle, capable souls; a few, like Fr. Irenaeus Herscher and Fr. Francis X. Miles, were both inspiring and inspired.

I learned a great deal from them—if perhaps not exactly what they were trying to teach me, certainly things that would stand me in good stead forever after. Yet even here, misogyny reared its ugly head—and what St. Francis’s good friend and spiritual sister St. Clare would have said to it, I can only imagine...

There was one particular friar who notoriously spewed sexism of such a toxic nature as would today have had him up on harassment charges. Upperclasswomen warned freshman females about him, but to my knowledge no one in authority ever called him on it.
He routinely referred to women as sluts and whores, and reduced at least one girl to tears. She was sitting in the front row—where he made all the coeds sit—with knees slightly apart, and when he—a PRIEST—leaned over the lectern and snarled “Close the gates of hell, bitch!” she ran out weeping. I myself came in for his malignity one day when he—a PRIEST—made me stand beside the lectern and step back, then forward again, to illustrate the sculptural concepts of “high relief” and “low relief” by how far my bosom jutted past the lectern edge. Even the boys in the class were appalled. For my part I refused to be embarrassed, and after that he left me alone. And the times they’ve done some changin’—vide President Sr. Margaret.

But mostly I remember very good times—and very good people. One in particular was Thomas Mosser, my editor on the BV and my first peer-mentor, who as many of you know was blown up by the Unabomber, and I wept when I heard. And others with whom I’m still in touch to this day.

As for my journalism training—I would never have gotten anything like that kind of attention at the big shiny fancy j-schools I’d considered. True, we didn’t have a whole lot in the way of technology: a linotype machine and the teletype ticker was pretty much it. The second-best thing about the experience was what it was not. It was not competitive. It was not cutthroat. It was not a sharkfight over who got to be editor’s pet that week. The best thing was what it was, which was hands-on and familial and instructive, not only in journalistic technique but in how to carry yourself in the world and before God and how to play nice with others, like the ladies and gentlemen our leader always called us.

Russell Jandoli, then head of the department, was a role model and a teacher in the true sense of the word. He taught me how to think the story like a reporter and feel the story like a reader and write the story like a witness on oath and edit the story like a hanging judge. Without his influence, I would still have become a writer and editor, but not the writer and editor I became because of him. And he had the best yarns to spin us.
It’s soooo bogus that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. Teaching is merely doing in a different way, and very often those who do couldn’t be one of those who teach in a million years. (Looking at YOU, Patricia Morrison!) Dr. J. had the incomparable gift of being able to instill ideas, not impose them. He was a journalism Jedi master. He was our Yoda, and we were all his padawan learners.

I’ve gone on about this at such length because I want you to get a real sense of how it was here, then. And that is how it was. And after two years, I’d had enough: I transferred to Harpur College, the Berkeley of the New York State system, now Binghamton University—whence I graduated in June of 1967 with a B.A. in English, having learned a whole raft of new things—not all of them academic.

In the fall of ’66, I got a weekend job as a go-go dancer in Triple Cities roadhouses; hip new boyfriends introduced me to pot and to amazing new music—Big Brother & The Holding Company and the Byrds and Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead and Buffalo Springfield and Cream; and in January of 1967, a stunningly enigmatic band out of Los Angeles, with a lead singer who had the voice of an angel and the face of a god and the heart of a hero …
And all this time the altar was being built, so that the fire from heaven might descend.

In the summer of 1967, I came across a magazine at the newsstand. It was called Jazz & Pop, and as soon as I opened it I knew that this was where I wanted to work. So—back in those days you could actually do stuff like this—I wrote a letter to the publisher and asked if there might be any kind of a job there for a journalism major. A couple of months later, she called me and said there sure was.

I was hired as editorial assistant, which meant I did anything that needed doing: interview artists, write features, review albums, work up layouts and spec type and crop photos and proofread and fulfill subscriptions and everything else. It was a magazine whose readership was 87% male, and it was published by four women, so there’s some feminism in action for you.
A year later, I became editor-in-chief. I never doubted for a heartbeat that I had the best job in the world. I had to go to the Fillmore East every weekend! I got to see any band I wanted to see, meet any artist I wanted to meet! It was my job! Even then I knew I was a very lucky girl, but only decades later did I realize HOW lucky—to be there, at that age, with that talent and training, in that place and time, with the best music, the best clothes, the best righteous causes, and, yeah, I won’t deny it, sex drugs and rocknroll.

At twenty-two, I was the editor of a national magazine and one of the Founding Mothers of rock criticism…and I gave thanks in my heart to my Jedi Master Jandoli and to the people I had worked with here who had helped me get there.
In a sense, Bonaventure was even responsible for my meeting my husband. What are First Causes, anyway? But rock and roll wasn’t the only thing I was finding out about…

As a child I had loved the King Arthur stories above all others, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that there was more going on there than fairytales—that there was a secret behind the stories, a secret which, despite being beaten up and left for dead many times down the centuries, was still very much alive. There wasn’t an original name for it—that had long been lost—but the people who knew the secret in modern times called it by various names: Celtic spirituality, Witchcraft, wiselore, Asatru, Wicca, Draoichtas, shamanism. Reader, I became a Pagan.

We had very few resources—not like now, with bookstores and retreats and workshops, dozens of different traditions, acceptance as a legal, legitimate religion. So I had to come at it sideways—through Celtic folklore, mythology, the Grail stories. Which I got started on right here at Bonaventure, and continued at Harpur. Books were all I had. It was enough—it had to be, there was nowhere else for a seeker to look—but soon I needed more, and it didn’t take me long to find it.

By the summer of 1966 I was deeply invested in the spirituality of my Celtic ancestors, which I practice to this day. It and its variants often carry an undeserved negative freight in the public perception, but quite simply it’s the ages-old, original, shamanic, pre-Christian native religion of Western Europe. Exactly analogous to Native American spirituality. Tribal polytheistic gender-equal earth-oriented many-traditioned Paganism, the faith once practiced by everyone who lived west of the Caucasus and east of the sea.
As its Supreme Being it posits a Holy Duality, a Father God and a Mother Goddess, the Lady and the Lord, and it holds everything sacred; so powerful and all-pervasive was it that its hallowed places and holydays were co-opted early on by the Middle-Eastern transplant Christianity, and remain so to this day.

When I first came across it, what I felt was not a rejection of my birth religion—that train had left the station years ago—but a blindingly clear acceptance of the faith that had been waiting for me all along, out there on these hills: a tremendous sense of joy and peace and oneness, a great gladness, the Eternal Yes. And that is still what it gives me. Faith is simply a matter of finding the right window from which to look at Deity, and for Deity to look back at you. I had found my way home to the true faith of my fathers and mothers before me, and I learned that I was welcome.
I became an ordained priestess, then chief priestess of a group of fellow worshippers. And then I met Jim Morrison. And he met me.

There were actual sparks when we shook hands—instant karma, love at first sight, or at least love at first conversation. We were friends for six months before we got romantic, and we were married in a Celtic ceremony on Midsummer Day, 1970, a year and a half after we met.
Jim had been a film major at Florida State and UCLA, but journalism fascinated him. He often said that he thought the interview, and even more so the self-interview, was the literary form of the future, and a whole lot of people took him at his word. He had an IQ of 149, he was the best-read person I’d ever met, and he was a brilliant interview subject: he could talk to ten people in a row and give each one something unique and quotable, and everybody would go away happy, including him.

Jim always claimed he didn’t learn anything in college that he hadn’t already known. I knew what he meant, but it was more complicated than that. Apart from mere factoids, maybe you really don’t learn anything you don’t already know. But what you do learn is how to apply knowledge to your own situation. My whole life I’ve made my living from what I learned at Bonaventure: apart from my go-go dancing career, I’ve never earned a penny except from my journalistic and writerly skills; and, including my go-go dancing career, I’ve never had one single job in which what I learned here wasn’t useful and helpful to me.

It was back then, in the Sixties, a phoenix time if ever there was one, that the world began to change. Jim was a point man, seeing things ahead of the rest of us, alerting us to what we were thinking before we even knew we were thinking it. Because of artists like him, many of us (not all of us—and generational placement had nothing to do with it, there were quite as many unenlightened boomers as hip elders) began to refuse what we perceived as the Negative Sacrifice. We. Just. Said. No. We said we wouldn’t climb up on the cross for the old order. We said “Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection.” (Well, Jim said that...) We said “I don’t, I don’t, I don’t think so!” We said “Hell no, we won’t go!” And, as everybody knows, we didn’t.

Instead, we began the Positive Sacrifice. Like furniture-refinishers of the soul, questioning not only authority but everything else too, we started to blast away the veneer of two thousand years, stripping off hardened layers of racism and sexism, cleaning away the sludge of creeds outworn, societal bad fu. And we got rid of quite a bit.

Still, too many of us got sucked into the old dynamic of living with the mental furniture we had because we, well, had it: it was easy, it was safe, it was comforting, it was exactly what our parents and grandparents had, and theirs before them. But the age had started to turn. Turning not like a ballerina but an ocean liner, its prow holding station while the stern was swinging round through the pivot. The turn was enormous, perhaps the biggest ever. It began to turn in the river, and it is turning still.

Which is why I have absolutely no patience with those who claim that the Sixties failed. Oh REALLY. Hey! What “failed”?! We stopped a war. We removed a President who deserved to be removed. We brought a new ethic to gender relations, race relations, politics and the workplace: women and minorities now have careers we couldn’t even dream about in 1967. Back when it was legal and expected to designate job ads M or F—all the M jobs being cool and promotable and all the F jobs requiring typing. We changed all that. We changed the face of music, writing, film, art, fashion, business, health, communications. You’re mad at the Sixties? Well, you know, the Sixties are mad at YOU!

Not to be self-congratulatory about it, because we messed up a lot, way more than we should have: but in a billion ways, most of them too small to notice but big enough to matter, the Sixties are still going on. We brought them with us. Many of the ideas we fought for have long since been mainstreamed. Brothers and sisters! Children! I promise you, we did not fail!
But we didn’t entirely succeed either. Like Jim, Janis, Jimi, too many of us did not survive the too-long Sacrifice. Not all war casualties come in combat. Artists like Jim changed things, and were changed, but they couldn’t change enough—not alone—and neither could too many others.

We made a fine start. We were pioneers: we set our hands to the plow that broke the plains, we sent the wagons rolling westward —and, like all pioneers, we did this knowing that we wouldn’t see the harvest. You who will live your adult lives in this new millennium, you will see it, or at least a lot more of it than we did; it is your children and grandchildren who will see the real spring.

If we don’t destroy ourselves and the planet first, of course. It’s a time now when that Sixties sensibility is once more desperately needed and once more savagely dissed. But the opposition these days is coming from a different place—a last-gasp-of-the-dinosaurs intolerance that comes from awareness fear rather than ignorance fear: They’re afraid of what they know, not of what they don’t know. They’re afraid other people are right, and that that leaves no room for them to be right.
Got news for you: We’re ALL right. There’s room for ALL of it. That’s something I learned right here, forty years ago.

And that’s what I’d like you to take away from my rabbiting on here tonight: the parable of the Elephant. It was Jim’s favorite metaphor for the truth of so many things. Each of us has got a hand on the Elephant. Some of us have grabbed the trunk and some the ears and some the tail or the feet or the great gray flanks. But we all have a piece, and no one’s piece is any more or any less valid than anyone else’s, and all the pieces of difference together make up the One Big Truth. Oh, and all you really need IS love. I don’t have to remind the people of Francis of that. Believe in the Elephant—maybe even Francis might have—ride the snake, and rock on.

Thank you and gods bless.


My lecture at St. Bonaventure University, 20 April 2006

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Last week I went up to my first college, St. Bonaventure University, in Olean, New York, for the first time since 1968. I was a journalism major there for two years, from September 1963 to June 965 (transferring out to Harpur College, now Binghamton University, the Berkeley of the New York State educational system and consistently topping the lists in money mags of great value for one’s educational dollars, and graduating with a BA in English in June 1967).
Bonaventure was where I learned to be a journalist, taught by the founder of the j-school his own self, the great and amazing Dr. Russell Jandoli, sadly no longer scrivening with us, and I have vast affection for the place.

It came about thusly: Last fall, NY Daily News writer Denis Hamill (brother of Pete) did a piece on me in his paper, all about my Pagan practices for the holyday of Samhain (Halloween to non-religionists).
As fate would have it, Lee Coppola, the current dean of the Bonaventure journalism school, saw the column (a lovely, truly understanding bit of work), flipped out (in a good way) and sent it to Bonaventure’s president, the incredibly cool Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF. Who had apparently already been contacted by an irate alumnus who was absolutely FURIOUS that a Pagan rock chick should have found her Pagan faith at a Franciscan university. (I have since learned that Pagans at SBU are by no means unknown, or unwelcome...I was not alone on campus, is what I’m saying here...)
Anyway, Sr. Margaret thought it was all just too cool for school, and so did Lee, and they invited me up to give an open lecture and talk to several j-school classes. (Sr. Margaret and I met a couple of weeks after the piece ran, here in Manhattan, and had a lovely hour’s conversation over hot chocolate in a midtown Starbucks...)

I was thrilled and honored to be invited (Harpur, my official alma mater, has never even acknowledged my authorial existence, much less asked me back to speak), so I said Oh yes please!, and we set it up for last week.

Well! It wasn’t exactly Tom Wolfe unable to go home again, and it wasn’t exactly Marcel and his damn tea and cookie, but it partook a bit of both. Bottom line, it was absolutely TERRIFIC. I had the BEST time, and the profs and students told me they did too.

The school is lovely, buildings of red-brown brick with tile roofs, all very Italianate, set in a beautiful valley surrounded by rolling mountains, in far southwestern New York State. (Olean, the nearest town, population about 16,000, means “oil place”, and there are tiny prehistoric-looking oil wells all over the place, including in people’s front and back yards.)
There have been a few building additions to the campus since my day, of course, but all in the same architectural idiom. Not a very big school, either: 2,000 students.
Lots of changes in other ways, though: when I was there, girls lived across the road in a huge old Civil War-vintage former girls’ academy converted to a dorm (which I adored). No pants allowed on campus (and it snowed from November to May...). All kinds of other disciplinary restrictions: demerits if you didn’t make your bed or left your room untidy. One TV in the whole dorm. No stereos allowed in the rooms. Of course, no boys allowed beyond the front parlors...
Now the dorms are mixed and nobody has a curfew and everybody has cars and TVs and computers and the dress code has been considerably relaxed and the faculty is no longer dominated by friars. Still a big basketball school, though. And it obviously works.

They put me up in Doyle Hall, which used to be the actual Friary in my day, so that was kind of weird. But the accommodations were a lovely spacious three-room suite: living room (with big TV), dining room (big table and all kitchen facilities) and comfortable bedroom. It was STILL weird, thinking of the friars who had once inhabited the rooms, and here come I, The Lizard Queen—female, Pagan, rock widow—setting up her traveling altar on the bedroom desk.

(In case you were wondering, I always travel with my “road gods”: depending on the vibe of the trip and the energy I might need, and on which deity/spiritual icon hasn’t been anywhere with me for a while, I bring a varying selection with me. None of the statues or small pictures is bigger than about three inches, and some always come along: Dionysus, Ariadne, a diptych of Michael the Archangel and the Blessed Mother. This trip I also brought Joan of Arc, Isis, Diana and two Zuni fetishes: a wolf in strawberry marble with spirit bundle and a black panther in onyx with arrow heartline. I try to use local flowers, stones or leaves on the altar also, and the stones, or sometimes a flower or two, I take home after as a link to the place.)

Lee Coppola, the dean, was a senior when I was a freshman, and so was Pulitzer Prize-winner Prof. John Hanchette, both of whom I worked with on the school paper, the Bona Venture, and it was a delight to see them again. The j-school has its own building now, and may have to expand to a larger facility, when in my day we had one room, just one, and a linotype and a teletype machine comprised the extent of available technology.

Lee picked me up at the Buffalo airport, and we drove down, taking little detours along the way to such places as Ellicottville, a ski-resort town that’s sort of like Woodstock or Aspen in feeling, but much less costly and pretentious, with lovely restored Victorian shops and B&Bs all over the place. Even celebrities show up from time to time, apparently, and I was glad to see that a bit of prosperity has found its way to Cattaraugus County, which, along with other Southern Tier NY/Northern Tier PA counties, has always been historically poor, the northern fringe of Appalachia.
We drove through Allegany, the tiny village immediately adjacent to the Bona campus, itself pleasingly tarted up, with, again, restored Victorians all over the place and some nice shops—in my day, there had been a terrific little coffee shop place called Sylvain’s, for burgers and grilled cheese, best ever, some bars and that was pretty much it.

The first day (Wednesday, April 19), I sat in on an entertaining faculty meeting/lunch, met everybody on the journalism school faculty and rambled around campus, then gave a surprisingly (to me) well-attended lecture Thursday night and hijacked four or five classes over the three days I spent there: newswriting, women and minorities in media, editing, featurewriting, etc.

Got to do all sorts of fun other stuff: work out in the spiffy new gym, check out the art in the impressive new arts center, spend a ton of money in the bookstore (T-shirts and sweatshirts and mugs and stuff), roam around to the sites of former triumphs and travails (including the site of my destroyed dorm, St. Elizabeth’s, now a pretty little garden area; though they happily spared the lovely stone grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes out in back, and I stopped off to say hi).

The classes were fascinating. I talked to them about my own journalistic life, as a Founding Mother of rock criticism and the editor of a national magazine at age 22, and the kids had lots of things to ask, though on occasion they did have to be prodded. Some of them could barely keep their eyes open, for reasons of their own, and I’d be the last one to bust them on it. Others were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, asking questions and coming up after class to discuss all manner of things. I taxed one class with why their generation was so apathetic: the apathetic ones had of course nothing to say, but the other ones were eager to put forth any number of reasons, a few (mostly those who came up to me after class) with greatly reassuring intelligence and humor.
They all seemed bright, though you could immediately pick out the class clown, the troublemaker, the bored cynic who didn’t want to be hearing any of what I had to say. But most of them were polite and genuinely interested, and I tried to give them a look at how what I learned at Bona has been of service to me my entire life.

One thing Bonaventure always prided itself on in my day was its genuine friendliness, “the Franciscan spirit”, and I was so happy to see that that hadn’t changed. People continue to smile at you, talk to you when you’re breakfasting alone in the dining hall, that kind of thing. It’s surprisingly nice, and I was glad of it.
Except...if a strong, young, unencumbered couple comes down a flight of stairs, say, or anywhere else, and sees a not-as-young person visibly and obviously struggling with two overstuffed suitcases and a giant bag of stuff, the proper response is not to say “Hi!” and nothing more and push your way past but to stop and ask “Can I/we help you with those?”
In fact, simple courtesy, let alone the Franciscan spirit, dictates that in such a situation you simply take the bags out of the struggling person’s hands and carry them outside to the cab forthwith. I do it myself, for people of ANY age, when I see a similar difficulty... It’s called good manners. Just thought I’d mention it.
(Looking at YOU, inconsiderate couple on the stairs in Doyle Hall at 9am Saturday morning April 22! Shame on you!)

What would this report be without food porn...
They fed me handsomely, all to my exacting and nostalgic specifications. I wanted to eat at least once in the campus dining hall, the infelicitously named Hickey (girls in my day ate in our dorm, fed by the nuns who oversaw us; we never ate in Hickey unless it was Winter Carnival or Fall Festival or some such event, and they grudgingly allowed us in). I got to have dinner (some very nice pasta bolognese) and breakfast (including FANTASTIC home-fried potatoes, and I am a potato connoisseuse so you KNOW they were good...)
I also requested lunch at the Burton in Allegany, college bar par excellence, who made, and still do, the glorious Burtonburger, best hamburger in the galaxy (the secret is good but not TOO good beef, and the tops of the buns are lightly greased, salted and warmed. Deee-licious.). And lunch at the Beef and Barrel in downtown Olean—where they offer a Western NY regional specialty called beef on weck. (Weck, not wick.) Which is just beautifully rare, thinly sliced roast beef on a kind of roll called a kummelweck, a Kaiser roll topped with lots of pretzel salt and caraway seeds, and served with either lashings of “au jus”, as they call it in those parts (my preference), or sinus-clearing horseradish (not).
Assorted faculty members took me to dinner at two lovely restaurants: Ho-Sta-Geh (local Seneca name, but I forget what it means), on the side of a mountain just south of Olean, with a huge porch and outdoor terrace and spectacular views over the landscape (we saw eagles!) and food to match; and Century Manor, a gorgeous Victorian former funeral parlor in Olean’s historic area converted into an equally g. restaurant (dark wood and tiled floors and huge fireplaces, and reputedly a resident ghost in the cellar), where the food was even better. Filet, stuffed pork chops, and at the Ho-Sta-Geh a springlike dessert of scoops of lime, orange and lemon sorbet.

Great fun talking to the profs, too: Professor Pat Vecchio is a vastly knowledgeable rocker boy himself, and we had a fine time talking 60’s music and comparing iPod playlists. My old friend Hanchette and I enjoyed reconnecting and reminiscing, and Dean Coppola is a truly worthy successor to our mutual mentor Dr. Jandoli. (More of Dr. J in the lecture text, which I’ll post tomorrow.) A former classmate of mine, Kathy Boser now Kathy Premo, also works in the journalism department, and we had a nice mini-reunion after my lecture.
Really nice to talk to the women faculty members as well, two of whom (Breea Willingham and Mary Beth Garvin) took me to dinner at the Century Manor, and we had a rip-roaring time of it. And Carole McNall, who turned out to be a fan of my Keltiad books, a truly impressive person. Even nicer that they’re there at all, since when I was an undergrad there was exactly ONE woman on the faculty, a nun who taught (or imposed upon us) logic and apologetics. Obviously times have changed, and now with Sr. Margaret as Bona’s first female president, hopefully even more change to come.

The lecture went well, though apparently some of the students complained the next day that I’d READ to them. Like, what else? I said up front I’d be READING (well, talk-reading, I don’t straight-read stuff, ’cause that would be boring for both them and me). It wasn’t as if I had George Lucas special effects on tap, or Show-and-Tell items (Jim’s leather pants?) to liven things up...little perishers!
But, as I say, it went well, and the Q&A after both lecture and classes are some of the best I’ve ever experienced. Good, angled questions that got me in the answering groove. Lotsa stuff about Jim, of course, but that was expected.

I’m much better at talking about him these days: when “Strange Days” came out, I went from never having talked about him FOR TWENTY YEARS to not shutting UP talking about him for two years straight—two solid years of nonstop interviews and TV shows and radio shows and feature articles and book tours.
Quite an adjustment, and after a while I started to actually break down and weep in front of reporters. So, that being unacceptable on SO many levels, I went to a therapist for about a year to address the fact that I had NEVER really addressed the facts, and it’s been a lot better ever since.
A student who had asked me in class was it hard to talk publicly about Jim (yes, it is. REALLY hard) later told her professor that she was surprised I was as composed about it as I was, but that my demeanor had impressed her and had made Jim seem real to her. That was very nice to hear. It was gratifying that she had the kindness to inquire, but also satisfying that she maybe learned a small lesson about journalistic intrusions into people’s private lives, and if she becomes a professional journalist in future, perhaps she’ll take that lesson with her.

I talk about Jim in public because the myth that is out there is insupportable and incorrect and a freakin’ tissue of lies. Not even a tissue. More like a giant heavy slab. And it cannot be allowed to stand. It cannot be permitted to be the record of Jim in the world. And if I have to surgically insert the truth about Jim (and me, and me with him) into the thick, resistant, bone-headed consciousness of everyone on the face of the earth, fine. It doesn’t benefit anyone for me to lose composure–not me, not Jim, not the audience; by this time I’m familiar with the questions and indeed with the feeling of being kicked in the slats, and I am far better able to cope with being blindsided, having learned the hard way.

Besides, if anyone’s going to be mythmaking about Jim, that person is going to be me. Stand aside, amateurs and liars and agenda-pushers and people who weren’t even around for it and alleged biographers who never trouble to ask ME how things were! And they STILL aren’t asking...couple of books recently written /now being written whose authors haven’t bothered to talk to me at all...again with the dissing and the ignoring, and I’m really, really sick of it.

So, would-be mythologizers, step away from it all and let a pro handle it! Let someone who was there for it in a true and real way tell you about it. The truth is as mythical as anything you could ever want. You couldn’t make it up better or lovelier or more tragic or more magical than it was, and still is. Talking about Jim, getting the truth of him out there, the truth of us, is the last thing I can do for him, and the best thing I can do for us.

I took the bus home from Olean, as I wanted to see how the countryside had changed (not that much) and how pretty it looked in spring (about 2 weeks behind NYC, so still with blossoming pear and cherry trees and tiny bright green leaves). It was cloudy and showery, and I got to see the mist hanging low in the valleys again. Lovely. Took 8 hours door to door, but I didn't care. I was the only passenger on the bus all the way to Corning, and the driver and I chatted a bit. We ran into a pottery fair in the streets of the impossibly pretty college town of Alfred, but he wouldn't let me buy anything out the bus windows...

So that was what I did last week, and I’m deeply grateful for being allowed to do it. I like to think that Bonaventure remembered me as well as I remembered it. You really CAN go home again, just so long as you keep it in mind that home’s changed as much as you’ve changed. Thomas Wolfe, suck it up!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Go Big!

About a year ago, there was this photograph I happened to see. It was of a wave, a wave the size of an office building, had to be sixty feet high. Ordinarily this would frighten and alarm me, as I have a thing about tsunamis, recurrent nightmares even, and this was clearly tsunami-sized water, moving very very fast, the top of it crumbling over like an avalanche. The thing was MONSTROUS. But the scariest thing about it was that moving right along with it, gracefully and powerfully, right down its sheer glassy face, was a man on a surfboard.

First reaction: This guy is INSANE! Second reaction: I must find out all ABOUT this!

Thus came to pass my introduction to the world of big-wave surfing.

Now, you need to know, I do not swim. If I fell overboard from a boat which for some unknown reason I was on, I could probably not swim well enough to save my life. I do not like getting my hair wet (well, it’s three feet long, it must be washed and set on rollers and dried under a salon dryer for two hours...). I do not like putting my face into any more water than a shower stream or my two cupped hands. I do not like getting water up my turned-up nose or in my pink and shell-like ears.

At college, I had to pass a swimming test before they would let me graduate. I said not gonna happen in my lifetime or yours and they said oh okay, just take the course twice and we’ll call it even. (I still have dreams that I forgot to go to the pool and they take back my degree...I have the same dream about math class, but that’s another story.)

So I took the course twice. By the end of the first installment, I could do a very passable sidestroke (kept my face and head out of the water, and which maybe I could still manage if I ever fell off that boat I was talking about). At the end of the second installment, they said fine, just jump in once at the deep end and you’re outta here. I tell ya, it took a loooooong time for me to force myself off that pool edge and down into it. After some very nasty seconds, I came right back up, and as I hauled myself dripping wet out of the pool I immediately resolved I would never be in water higher than my ankles again. EVER. And I haven’t.

Anyway, as I said, I saw this photo and I immediately wanted to find out more. So I bought a big-wave surfing DVD (the amazing and gorgeously photographed “Riding Giants”, directed by "Dogtown" 's Stacy Peralta), and I was, not to put too fine a point on it, hooked. I now own upwards of a dozen DVDs and out-of-print VHS tapes, and I can’t be bothered watching anyone surf anything smaller than 30 feet, and I can’t stop watching.

Which, for the compleat hydrophobe that I am—and I’m a Pisces, too!—is pretty amazing.

The DVDs are mostly about this reef break on Maui, Peahi (unironically nicknamed “Jaws”), and another one in Tahiti, Teahupo’o. Which means they’re also mostly about Laird Hamilton.

Hamilton (the guy in the photo) is held to be the greatest big-wave rider of all time, and watching these movies, it’s hard to disagree. Even I, who know practically nothing about it, can see that this guy is different from everybody else. He’s amazing to watch and also interesting to listen to. What I find even more remarkable than his performance is seeing the reverence in which other surfers hold him. No jealousy, no envy, just “He’s better than we are and we’d be idiots if we didn’t acknowledge it and that’s all there is to it.”

It’s a very pleasing thing to observe. None of the stupid macho posturing you get in team sports, though I’m sure some surfers have postures of their own—all those aqueous thugs called "locals", who beat the crap out of poor gormless idiots who dare to try to surf “their” break. But I’ve really only mostly noted—reading about it, watching it, talking to surfer friends—a refreshing respect and, in the case of big-wave riders, a genuine humility. The wave is bigger than they are, and so is Laird—and these guys are world-class surfers themselves.

And they’re not stupid, either. Like everybody else, I’d bought into the dumb blond surf junkie stereotype (when I thought about surfing at all, that is, which wasn't very often). Well, these guys aren’t all blond and they are, every single one of them, far, FAR from dumb. They talk knowledgeably about ocean-bottom geography and the physics of wind patterns and surfboard hydrodynamics—board-shorted, suntanned professors. They’re all "watermen", generalists in every form of ocean activity, but they're specialists, too: some of them surf only big water, or only one particular break, while others find new ways to ride (Laird's hydrofoil boards and stand-up paddling with a huge oar on an even huger board, underwater bodysurfing).

They admit it’s an obsession and even an addiction; that they can’t NOT surf, that when the waves are flat and they can’t go out, they’re still thinking about it. (Their ladies must be the most understanding women on the planet...) They realize how completely ephemeral their achievements are: you give an amazing wave the ride of your life, you kick out and it’s gone. Your stage, your page, your canvas—the place where you perform your art and perfect your life, all vanished in a matter of seconds, and you left staring after it. If it wasn’t filmed there’s no proof it ever happened.

The big water is also sloshing with testosterone: women are only beginning to get into big-wave surfing. Which seems more for physical reasons than psychological ones: most of the guys who ride big waves are big guys—if the wave you’re going for is sixty feet high, it helps to be a six-footer yourself. Yet to my eye, at least, there seems to be little antler-rattling. It’s beyond that.

And, of course, it’s dangerous beyond belief, so there’s the adrenaline-junkie aspect figuring in there somewhere too. Big-wave riders have made their kind of surfing a team sport, no longer the solo romance of one man and one board against the swell. They need a jet-ski and driver to whip them into waves too big to catch by hand-paddling the old-fashioned way. And another ski and driver to hang out watching in case anything goes wrong and can run in and rescue them. And often a support boat, and a helicopter and pilot, ditto and ditto.

Which has many “purist” surfers up in arms: it can’t possibly be REAL surfing if you need all that help to catch your wave and get yourself safely out of it. But the fact remains that if you didn’t have all that help, you wouldn’t get anywhere NEAR these things. So it’s all tremendous fun to watch, you have no idea, and the surfers who do it all say it’s tremendous fun to actually DO.

For me, though, where it gets REALLY interesting is when Hamilton and his posse speak of the ocean, and the wave itself, as a living being. Which they do on almost every single DVD (“The Ride/The Day”, “To’: Day of Days”, “All Aboard the Crazy Train”, “Riding Giants”, etc.).

They call her “She.” They make offerings. They clean up the beaches. They salute the wave with respect and honor. There used to be prayer chants in the old Hawaiian religion, to call the wave, to call the wind that makes the surf; if these surfers aren’t doing that, and I have a feeling some of them are, they’re certainly doing the next best thing to it. And they feel it matters that they should do so. So, for them, it does.

I have no idea why this so powerfully appeals to me. Sure, it’s pleasant watching hunky bronzed gods slide impressively over the face of the raging waters. But that’s not it. It seems to refresh my spirit in some psychic or psychological way. Maybe it’s a way of exorcising my water fears and dislikes at one remove: I’ll never do this myself, but seeing how other people handle it does something on a cellular level.

The other amazing thing is that watching these DVDs actually got me signed up to a gym membership for the first time ever. Yes! It did! I, who never lifted a finger (except the middle one) in the direction of physical fitness since college, am now hitting Crunch three or four times a week. Weird, really. But watching "Riding Giants" for the twentieth time, I suddenly thought Well, I could NEVER be in the shape that these people are in, but I COULD be in SOME kind of shape.
So now I have a regular training circuit...I can't believe I'm actually typing this...of weights, recumbent biking (7 miles a day at six minutes a mile, working up to more and faster), yoga (which I've practiced all my life, and which has kept me very bendy; I can put both palms flat on the floor up to my wrists and can touch the floor from the bottom step of a flight of stairs---as can my 85-year-old mother), Pilates stretches and a big finish of two miles on the treadmill. And soon I'll be moving on to those cool machines.
Hey, I know it's not Laird Hamilton's workout, but it's more than I've ever done in my LIFE, my doctor is thrilled with the shape I'm in, and I owe it all to "Riding Giants."
Obviously a sign of the Apocalypse. But at least I'll be fit when it happens!

Still, the fact remains that I’m never, EVER, going to surf anything wetter than the Web. You won’t be hearing any stories from me about how I paddled out on a board and popped right up and carved my way to the shoulder straight down the line on my first wave (I can’t believe I can now discuss all this in surferspeak, either...or that my dear friend Kathleen Q had a serious surfing past and relationship history herself and didn’t think to mention it in the 16 years we’ve known each other!). But the combination of technique and power and spirituality will continue to fascinate me.

Beats the living HELL out of football. (We'll discuss my adventures with Major League Baseball another time...)


Monday, April 10, 2006

Give Him Hell, Harry!

Go at ONCE to the many-paged site called and post your thanks! Harry Taylor is the guy who stood up at the Chimp's public self-love fest the other day and told him that he, the Little Emperor, has not only no clothes but no brains and no cojones either.

Well, Harry was a LOT more polite about it than I feel like being, or would have been had I been in his shoes. He merely, calmly, politely informed Shrub that “In my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of my leadership in Washington. And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself.”
And a bunch more measured, reasoned, civil, crucifyingly correctly cutting words to that effect.

Shrub, being the grinning ape that he is, grinned some more, pretended to listen and basically ignored everything Harry said in his "response" to Harry's words.
Did we expect any different? Did we expect to see him fall to his knees weeping in sudden shame, the scales fallen from his eyes, a real Saul of Tarsus/Road to Damascus moment? Did we think he would sob and blubber about how ashamed and angry Jesus must surely be of him and how he'll reform his ways and his Administration post-haste?

No. We did not expect that. But wouldn't it have been exalting to behold! Give him MORE hell, Harry!! You are my HERO!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Big fat wet flakes! Right outside my window! It's a special present to mememe from the Snow Gods, because they know I'm not yet ready to give up winter! So it snows for me, personally. Yes. It does. Not STICKING, of course, that WOULD be too much to ask for...but it does look lovely when viewed with a big vase of irises and tulips in front of it, and I'm a happy little person this day.

That's all I got.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Of Jewelry and Mets...In That Order of Importance

The Mets won on Opening Day! An omen for the season, hopefully. Small ball, beautifully played and with a little bit of luck---something that's been in short supply at Shea for way too long.

But UCLA lost...oh soooo very sad. Jim's alma mater, and my friend Mary's alma mater, so I am obliged to support and cheer. I even wear UCLA t-shirts to the gym...another gym rat, being an alumnus, noticed my shirt last night, and we had a little Bruins mini-rally right there in yoga class. To no avail, alas...maybe it's time to go over to the surfing shirts...

Today is rather blustery, with big racing dark-gray clouds, very dramatic against the cherry and pear blossoms that just popped out on street trees all over the city. I'm happy because I get to wear nice warm chenille sweaters just a bit longer. But the switchover to spring jewelry has begun...

I looooove jewelry. Have I mentioned that? Costliness has nothing to do with it, and most of my stuff is fairly modest anyway: it's just the Celtic love of adornment manifesting itself, and, equally important, such spiritual things as talismanic protection and correspondences.
Apart from all-year-round amuletic and medicine pieces (such as Jim's lion's tooth pendant and some Viking and Celtic stuff), I have seasonal jewel wardrobes just as I have seasonal clothing wardrobes; it sounds demented, I know, but it works for me. Winter is for dark gems---rubies, sapphires, garnets---and gold, heavy and elaborate pieces; spring sees the move to lighter stones like aquamarines and emeralds, and a bit of silver gets added to the mix. Summer is mostly silver and beads---coral, pearls, paua shell, rock crystal for coolness; very little gold except for the rings I wear year-round, my marriage rings and two Keltic rings I had made for my books---wearing gold in summer months makes me feel too hot. While fall brings back the darker gems and autumnal stones like citrine and topaz and amber and opal, and sees the return of gold to the lineup.

It's a bit sad putting the winter jewels away in the bank again, like sending your kids off to camp...but at least when I bring the summer stuff out it doesn't smell of mothballs.
And it's fun discovering new stones: for my birthday, my friend Kathleen gave me a temporary strand of vesuvianite briolettes and some tiny gold beads to string between them. Vesuvianite (idocrase) is a lovely, sparkly, deep yellow-green stone, and I'd never seen it before in jewel form. So that will be my new official spring necklace, after I string it with small pearls, maybe. White and green like a pear tree in blossom. Or the green and white of the Riddermark, the kingdom of Rohan.
And at Jes MaHarry's studio I saw a ring set with a prehnite, another lovely pale-green stone new to me, faceted in a checkerboard pattern...ooooh.

Okay, that's enough jewel porn for the day. Just don't get me started on chocolate...

Monday, April 03, 2006


A very quiet, waaaaay too springlike weekend. Started to cry all over again when I saw the poor mutilated appletree down the block trying desperately to sprout new green leaves from tiny stubby branches. I hope the Treekiller fries in hell, the evil creature. May the wrath of the goddess Pomona come crashing down upon his head, preferably in the form of large, thick, heavy branches. Or I wouldn't weep if there should happen to be a teensy chainsaw accident...

Otherwise, I spent most of my time composing a talk for when I go back to St. Bonaventure University in three weeks to talk to the journalism students and, apparently, the entire campus community. I'm not a very good public speaker, but I plan on reading a nice long speech all about being a j-major there forty years ago and how I got into rock and met Jim and maybe a little digression about the Sixties and how we need that Sixties sensibility right here, right now.
I'm very much looking forward to seeing the campus, which I have not visited since 1969. I'm told that there's a bunch more buildings but that the area is remarkably unchanged. Spring up there can be either lovely or mud-laden, or both at the same time.
I'm planning my wardrobe already! Hopefully some people will actually show up to listen to my little talk...

Apart from that, I rewatched a couple of big-wave surfing videos (hi, Laird!), read a new Terry Pratchett book ("Thud") and tried again to sit through "The Libertine." Now, I may be a Johnny-Depp-come-lately, but since "Pirates of the Caribbean" I take a back seat to no one in my admiration of his talent. And he's so pretty, especially as Captain Jack Sparrow.
But THIS...well, I liked it a bit better this time and actually did manage to stay till the end, but for an allegedly sexy movie about a sexy 17th-century rakehell, it was surprisingly and sadly...limp. Johnny was good, he always is, but it was the unsexiest sexy movie I've ever seen. And I had such hopes...Johnny, long hair, great costumes, a POET SEX SYMBOL, why does THAT sound familiar and attractive... But no. A rather flat and dare I say boring addition to the Deppish oeuvre, which I am continuing to work through on DVD. Next up: "Ed Wood."

And today is Opening Day! I wore my Mets visor and my uniform shirt with MORRISON 71 on the back. GOOOOOOO METS!!!!!