Thursday, April 29, 2010

2010 "poem in your pocket" day :D

today, april 29, is "poem in your pocket day" - bringing to a close april's poetry celebration for "national poetry month." in prior years, i carried around poems from gary synder ("john muir on mt. ritter") and allen ginsberg ("velocity of money"). this year the poem in my pocket is jack kerouac's "brooklyn bridge blues" - and i've posted the 10th (and last chorus) of the poem below.

interestingly, the entire poem can be heard on the "kerouac kicks joy darkness" cd. the first nine chorus' are read by allen ginsberg (from a 1995 appearance at town hall). the final chorus, below, was read on the brooklyn bridge itself, by eric anderson, to conclude the cd!


Chorus # 10

And that's all I can
recall of Brooklyn Bridge,
tonight, John A Roebling
and Washington Roebling
built it, and it hath cables
and it does one good
to cross it everyday----
See my eerie wiseness?
Good night, innocent children
of this mortal Sangsara
world, you have to keep
your mind empty & tranquil
and pure or the whole
Eternal Light escapes you
-----Without the Eternal Light
you're only a yakking fool
of rooms, beds, graves
and monuments----with it,
you are like the Silent
Mountains of Snow
and more than
I know------

JAN 28 1956

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

support alicja barahona's 120 mile non-stop run across long island

this weekend a good friend, alicja barahona, will once again set off on a 120 mile run across long island to raise funds for breast cancer research. she's done this run in years past, always to raise awareness of breast cancer issues. alicja has many extreme and ultra running accomplishments to her credit (some are mentioned in the above flyer). most recently, she took first place in the 2009 ny ultrarunning grand prix series.

here is alicja's fundraising email:


As some of you may know, I am once again running 120 miles, non-stop, across Long Island to raise awareness and funds to help fight breast cancer. This will be my 4th solo run across Long Island in support of breast cancer patients. My 120-mile running route, which I have personally created, will start at Woodmere Community Park (adjacent to JFK Airport) and end at Montauk Point. I will start running on May 1, 2010.

I am eager to get started with my fundraising and I need your support! 100% of your contribution goes directly to breast cancer support services and research. It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause - you can make a donation online by simply clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. Whatever you can give will help! I truly appreciate your support.

Donations can be mailed to LI2DAYBCW, P.O. Box 506 Nesconset, NY, 11767 or made online at Please be sure to write my name (Alicja Barahona).

Please distribute this email to your friends and family - TOGETHER WE REALLY DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Thank you so much for your support and donation.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

peter frampton "thank you mr. churchill" cd review

fresh on the heels of his 60th birthday last week (and celebrating his 8th year of sobriety), peter frampton's "thank you mr. churchill," the follow-up to his 2006 grammy-winning "fingerprints" has been worth the wait. while "fingerprints" was an all instrumental album (ala the footsteps of jeff beck), not only does frampton bring back his vocals on "thank you mr. churchill," but his son julian takes lead vocals on "road to the sun!" in a retro nod, the album was also pre-released on vinyl (a reason to take the turntable down from the attic?).

"thanks mr. churchill" is an intensely autobiographical album. the title itself is a thank you to mr. churchill for bringing his dad home safely from the ravages of world war two. but the song builds into a peace anthem, after the obigatory nod to mr. churchill. "will there be peace on earth one day/if so i hope i will be near/till we're born with wisdom/war will always be here." frampton's dad went on to become a school teacher, and reappears in "vaudeville nanna and the bandolele." it's a look back at his childhood, learning to play his nanna's "bandolele" ( a cross between a banjo and a ukelele) and wishing for a real guitar: "...they all looked like candy/guitars behind glass that i wanted to play."

but frampton soon learned to play the guitar and the piano. by the time he was just 10, he played in makeshift band called the ravens! through a series of bands he found himself, at 16, playing in "the herd" and had some hits on the british charts. in 1967 he teamed up with steve marriott of the "small faces" to form "humble pie" and the rest is rock history. though it took going solo in the early 70's that really launched him rock stardom with "frampton comes alive" in 1976! most fans remember frampton for that ubiquitous classic (and it's no exaggeration to say it was an album in every record collection).

but frampton continued tour (and release albums) in the decades that followed. what makes "thank you mr. churchill" so great to listen to is it's clearly the product of a working musician - one who honed his craft through decades of performances. it comes through not just on his guitar playing (which is tight and powerful), but his mature voice. this isn't the same peter frampton that followed up "framtpon comes alive" with "i'm in you." but this album is also "follow-up" to his successful "fingerprints." it's worth pointing out that frampton played on george harrison's "all things must pass" album, toured with david bowie and, a decade later, with ringo starr.

all that experience shines through practically every tune on the album. interestingly, the two part instrumental "suite liberte" bridges "fingerprints" and the classic rock sound we associate with frampton. part one, an acoustic intro, turns into a beautiful (and driving) electric jam in the second part. this instrumental riff easily slides into the jam band territory. then, twisting off into an entirely different direction, frampton infuses motown (harmonies included) "invisible man." he covers a lot of varied terrain in the 11 cuts that make up the album. the final song, "black ice" is a mellow, acoustic, look at his efforts to stay sober.

from an interview frampton gave, he mentioned that in the wake of "fingerprints" he penned about 50 new songs in a sustained burst of creativity! so it should come as no surprise that he's got plenty of material for a few more albums. "thank you mr. churchill" also benefited from his friendship with matt cameron (pearl jam's former drummer) who played on six of the album's eleven songs. cameron also worked on some of "fingerprints" as well. with the introduction of his son's bluesy performance on "road to the sun" he had more vocals too!

"thank you mr. churchill" is a must get for any frampton fan. the album's songs will probably be showcased on his summer tour (if not sooner). he's touring with yes for a number of dates this summer and i'm going to make it a point to get ticket to show.

Monday, April 26, 2010

eliot's lake waramaug 50 miler race report: guest post

eliot went from manning an aid station at the sybil ludington 50k on saturday, to running his first 50 miler at lake waramaug, the very next day. one big difference between the two days was the weather! we had great weather for sybil, but the weather gods threw eliot a nasty curve with the rain (and even more rain) that fell on sunday. but a little rain wasn't about to spoil his race - or his 48th birthday, for that matter!!

here is eliot's race report - enjoy!

The Lake Waramaug (LW) Ultras – One Day, Two Milestones Reached - My First 50 Miler and My 48th Birthday, April 25, 2010

Two marathons, four 50K’s, one 60K in the last six months …. time for a 50 miler …. right? Right. Maniac …. right? Right! So, Kate Stoker’s LW post was all she wrote …. I decided I would lose it (my 50 miler virginity) on my birthday. First, I need to give thanks to my wife, Jen, for dropping me off and then picking me up (driving 1 ½ hours each way) because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure what shape I’d be in post-race. Haha. To Eric for cheering me in. And, to Vic/Todd for preparing my birthday feast.

After working 4 ½ hours in the sun at the Sybil Ludington 50K on Saturday and going out to a fundraising function that evening, I was tired before the race even began. But, hey, I put it out there in the ‘press’ that I would run it …. so, I wasn’t backing down.

The weather forecast called for rain/drizzle almost throughout the entire day with temperatures in the 50’s. Not optimal running conditions because there was just no keeping dry. I set out a realistic goal and a basic plan for this race (made up of a 4.4 mile out/back followed by six 7.6 mile loops around beautiful Lake Waramaug) which would get me a nine hour finish (give or take). My general plan was 40/45 minutes for the out/back and 1:20 to 1:30 for each lake loop. I planned to eat/drink at every station (boy, did I ever!) and to take a SaltStick cap every loop (for cramping) with Tylenol/Aleve as needed. I left my iPod shuffle in my drop bag for the later loops. That was it. Simple. Plus, my morning pre-race ritual was the same …. coffee, shower, Kinesio tape my knee and, for long runs, some moleskin on the bottoms of my feet …. Ooops, I forgot the moleskin which would prove to be problematic!

I saw Betsy Mainiero before and at the start of the race and that was it. She took off and after the out/back, I never saw her again. It was her first 50 miler too and she rocked it. I crossed paths once or twice with Barbara Sorrell doing the 50K (she and her husband did both Sybil and LW!). Within my own plan, I had the pleasure of running the first 16 or so miles with Dave Obelkevich (organizer of the annual ‘Run around Manhattan’ in Ted Corbitt’s memory) doing the 50K. We chatted the whole time about life and running. Two things he said I remember very clearly. First, he told me that he always keeps good running form when he is tired as this is most efficient. This was replayed in my mind, especially later in the day. Second, he asked about my sudden interest in ultras. I was at a loss for words. We both laughed!

My body and feet were completely soaked by mile 5 and I realized by mile 12 or so that there was a blister forming on the bottom of my left foot. Nothing I could do about it until I reached the start/finish area again where I could swap socks/shoes. Darn it! It was too late …. damage done. I would run the remaining 30 miles of the race with that annoying, sometimes painful, sensation on my foot. Mental note for the next long race: Don’t forget to put moleskin on your feet, especially if it is raining, dummy! Aside from this issue, I had no cramping, no major aches/pains to speak of, but I did have a few mental lapses. It can get lonely out there between stations so whenever I caught up to runners in walking mode, I would walk/talk with them until I felt an opportunity to move on. And, when alone in my own hill walking mode …. I sometimes forgot to start running again because I was daydreaming. La-la land can be that way sometimes! Mental note #2 for the next long race: Put your iPod on your head for the last few loops and let the music pace you, dummy!

The weather may have been wet, cold and unfriendly, but the race volunteers were anything but! Here is how each lake loop went for me: At about 2 miles, I hit Kate and Jill Siladi’s station (with monkey/coconuts) where I got birthday kisses, hugs, balloons, cakes and cheers. Some guy even pretended that it was his birthday too just to steal a hug! At about 4 miles was the ‘soup kitchen.’ Here they had hot chicken noodle soup and buttery grilled cheese sandwich squares. I had a soup and sammie each time I came around. I think Betsy gave them the word as they were giving me birthday wishes too! At about mile 6, they had great cookies …. and, whenever I thanked them for being there, they thanked me for coming out! With all the eating, I think I gained weight during this race! Then, of course, there was the start/finish station where there was clapping and picture taking every time I came around. LW is a very well-organized race, with a nice finisher’s medal and tech tee with volunteers with hearts of gold. When I finished …. someone unlaced my timing chip for me because she knew bending might be a problem. Oh, the ice-cold Negra Modelo beer went down real well too!

With a ‘soft’ time goal of 9 hours, I am happy with my 9:31:06 (unofficial) time for my first 50 miler. Any thoughts of pushing to 100K quickly passed as soon as I saw Jen and Eric waiting/cheering at the finish. Post-race, my body is tired but no more so than after any long-haul race. The only thing to tend to now is that darn blister on my foot bottom and a slight tenderness around my right shin area (probably due to my awkward, blister-favoring gait). Perhaps, I’ll even be in good enough shape to do something off-road like the Long Island Greenbelt 50K on May 8th. We shall see ….

2010 sybil ludington 50k: race report

while it hardly seems possible to express this sentiment during the race - the sybil ludington 50k is one of my favorite ultras! during the race, however, my view is best expressed by the string of expletives that escape me as super-sized s.u.v.'s (steroid fed, apparently) continually blew past me on the narrow country roads. aside from the ever present fear of getting run over, everything else about this event is fantastic. sybil was my very first ultra (back in 2006) and i've run it every year since (with many more still in the future).

i've done the boston marathon the week of sybil four times over the last five years. the one year i missed boston (2009), i set at personal best at sybil. that should have taught me a lesson (but didn't). this time around i didn't feel fully recovered from boston. while that was my excuse, this years winner had no problem knocking out a sub 3 hour boston followed by a 3:30 finish at sybil! my time goal was an hour slower (4:30) - but turned out to be way too aggressive under the circumstances.

splits were provided for the first mile, 5 mile increments, and at the half and full marathon marks. here are my splits (i missed the markers for miles 20 and 30):

1.0 8:08
5.0 32:41 40:50
10.0 43:41 1:24:31
13.1 27:03 1:51:35
15.0 16:42 2:08:17
22.2 1:04:44 3:13:02
25.0 35:58 3:48:00
26.2 12:24 4:00:25
31.0 49:59 4:50:24

9:21 pace

i had a solid race for the first twenty miles. but as i reached the aid station at 22 miles, fatigue caught up with me. after that point i was walking the major climbs, and was unable to find a second gear to move into. i reached the marathon split in exactly 4:00 hours, well off my 4:40/45 target. the only bright spot in the remaining 5 miles was seeing eliot manning the aid station at 29+ miles. but those positive vibes (tom was there too) were washed away crossing the traffic filled causeway in the last mile!

while i wasn't at all pleased with my finish (a full 25 minutes slower than 2009; 20 minutes off my initial - way too optimist goal; and, 5 minutes off my mid-race revised target of 4:45), i doubt i could have run it any faster! amazingly, that finish was still good enough for third place in my age group! plus, elaine came in 3rd woman overall, emmy was the first masters woman, and hiroshi (along with his vctc teammate) took first place in the relay! aside from my time, it was a great day to be out on the roads!

the post-race festivities were, as always, great. in addition to the sub sandwiches, there was a special happy 80th birthday cake in honor of joe handelman's finish! the next day, at lake waramaug, eliot would celebrate his own birthday by running his first 50 miler! while i was registered for that one as well, the rain beating against my window sunday morning kept me home. i just couldn't drag myself out for a day of running in the rain :(

here are my race photos.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

r.crumb and roz chast exhibit at the westport arts center

i just got back from the "divine comedy" exhibit at the westport arts center. it features drawings from r. crumb and roz chast. i went, primarily, to see the crumb drawings - the roz chast material was a great bonus! i missed seeing the crumb "genesis" exhibit in nyc, so this was in some small way, an act of penance :D

the exhibit runs until may 30, and if you're nearby - check it out. in addition to the drawing, they have a selection of chast's colored eggs on exhibit (and a small sampling of crumb comic book covers). it's well worth the trip!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2010 sybil ludington 50k: race photos and results

the 2010 sybil ludington 50k is in the books! it's my fifth straight year running this great race (it was my very first ultra, in fact)! my time (4:50:25) was well off last years performance, but it was good enough for third place in my ag! elaine was the 3rd woman finisher and emmy was the first female masters finisher! plus, hiroshi's place team took first in the relay!

here is my race report; and here are the race results.

Friday, April 23, 2010

happy birthday jim fixx!

for runners like me, of certain age that is, jim fixx is a household name - as are the memories of his ubiquitous classic, "the complete book of running," during the late 1970's. jim fixx was born on april 23, 1932, and died suddenly on july 20, 1984 - at the tragically young age of 52. fixx died of a heart attack just after he finished his daily run. it's hard to understate the impact his 1977 book had on creating the first modern running boom. and, ironically, his death was seized upon by opponents (of running) as proof that running was an inherently dangerous activity.

in the 25+ years since the death of jim fixx - and the 30+ years since publication of "the complete book of running" - the running movement itself has become ubiquitous. its growth was due in in no small part because of the millions of people who read his book (and the 1980 follow-up: "jim fixx's second book of running"), and took up running.

on a personal note, during the summer of 2000, i reread both of his books and they helped kicked off my return to running. from the low mileage and just two races i ran that year, i'm now about to celebrate 10 years of running and racing (from track to ultras - and everything in between). i've run the jim fixx 5 miler in greenwich a few times too - and so glad that his memory is kept alive!

happy birthday, in heaven, jim fixx!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

happy birthday peter frampton - 60 years old today!

Peter Frampton was born 60 years ago today, on April 22, 1950. In the late 1960's he was a co-founder of Humble Pie. But it was almost a decade later, as a solo artist in the mid-1970's, when he released "Frampton Comes Alive" that Frampton became a household word in the world of rock music. Even now, "Frampton Comes Alive" is one of the largest selling live albums of all time (in its day, it was the largest selling).

That album was huge in my high school days. Almost everyone I knew (me included) had the album cover up on a wall as decoration! Now, 30+ years removed, I’m listening to "Frampton Comes Alive II" on my computer as I post this blog entry! Frampton released that one in 1995, and covered most of his 1980's material on it. He even finds room for the voice box effect (made infamous on "Do You Feel Like We Do," on "Can’t Take That Away."

Today, we’re less than a week away from Frampton’s newest release. "Thank You Mr. Churchill" is due out on Tuesday. It’s his follow-up to the 2006 Grammy winning instrumental album, "Fingerprints." The new one not only returns the vocals, but includes a guest appearance with his son Julian on one tracks, "Return to the Sun." It looks like good things are happening for Mr. Frampton :D

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

114th boston marathon: race report

the 114th boston marathon is in the books! it was my 6th boston marathon in the last 7 years, and, in some ways, the most fun! amazingly, after getting closed out last year and having to sit out the 113th edition, there was a nostalgia element built into this one. it's hard to believe that missing just a year could engender that feeling! on the other hand, was the first boston marathon that didn't double as a family trip, so it was a little bittersweet. pat and katie would spend marathon weekends with friends (pat went to college in cambridge and some of katie's summer camp friends live in town).

still, this a great weekend. while we were there to run a race, socializing was a big part of the event. i drove up saturday afternoon with emmy and stayed at the copley square hotel with my friend hugo. we went straight to marathon expo that afternoon (and saw kate and tom there). the low point of the entire week belonged to sam adams and their lame booth - which ran out of beer at 4 o'clock (at an expo open until 6). later on, walked over to the cambridge brewing company with emmy's son, andrew, for dinner.

the next morning hugo and i watched the baa 5k and invitational miles (and met up with my buddy, gene - who was volunteering at the race). continuing the lousy weather from saturday, we had more rain and raw conditions on sunday. we had brunch at emmit's pub on beacon hill (and, for the second time in two days, was soaked coming home from a meal!). that night hugo invited us to have dinner at the hotel with his "fred's team" teammates. it was a relatively early night, with a wake-up call set for 5:30 the next morning.

i walked over to boston commons from the hotel (disappointed to find that the starbucks en route was late opening, so i had to forego a green tea). the plan was to meet up with gene and emmy at the boston massacre statue, then take the bus to hopkinton as a group. as we all met up at the statue, got to see kate (who had a meet up of her own). about a dozen of us rode to the athletes village together. as we got off the bus, hugo was already there - having arrived via a separate "fred's team" bus.

inside the village, i ran into a bunch of friends -the first of whom were bekkie and joe (bekkie in full minnie mouse costume)! also saw my friend mark and eventually tracked down my buddy todd (and his friend micah). just after 9, we all started the trek over to the baggage trucks (ran into herb) and the corrals. that 3/4+ of a mile walk to the corrals was broken up by a quick trip to the parking lot of colella's market for one last pit stop at the porta-johns. then into corral number 10 for me.

it took a solid 7+ minutes to cross the starting line! my only time goal was a 3:30 finish - but was probably too ambitious under the circumstances. i hadn't done any marathon specific training leading up to the race, so wasn't sure i could maintain a sub-8 minute pace. that proved to be the case when the only sub 8 miles i ran were all before mile 5! starting with the fifth (in 8:11), each mile bounced between 8:08 and 8:57 for the next 21.2 miles! i eked out a 3:38:02 finish.

here are my official splits:

5k 24:22
10k 49:41
15k 1:15:19
20k 1:41:23
half 1:46:55
25k 2:07:15
30k 2:34:06
35k 2:59:29
40k 3:26:58

3:38:02, 8:19 pace

it was incredibly windy - despite the bright sun - at the start. however, the wind wasn't much of an issued throughout the race (crosswinds, mainly). but, during the last few miles, especially along beacon street, we faced a nasty headwind. it wasn't a pleasant way to close out the last couple of miles! wind aside, the weather was perfect - hardly what seemed in store for us in the wake of the two lousy weather days leading up to race morning!

last, but not least, the spectators were incredible and really added a positive vibe. so too the volunteers. as for the runners, the most frequently overheard chit-chat: "so where did you qualify?" i didn't see any runners in distress (and only a handful walking the heartbreak hills). although afterwards, i did read that one runner had a heart attack (thankfully, he survived). i was disappointed that ryan hall didn't win - but amazed that the old course record was smashed (and hall did reset the american record for boston)!

back at the hotel we had a few beers with some of hugo's friends from "fred's team" before heading home. all in all, it was a fantastic weekend! i suspect that i won't be the only one signing up for the 115th edition once registration opens up next september!

here are the rest of my race photos.

happy birthday pat!

today is pat's birthday - woo hoo!!

i won't give away pat's age today, but will say that she's definitely younger than i am :D pat's birthday follows on the heels of katie's - and is the second of the two april birthdays in our household.

i can predict, with almost certainty, that tonight's menu will include lamb chops - her favorite. followed by a chocolate cake :D

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

114th boston marathon: photos and results

what a great time in boston yesterday! while i didn't see any friends during the race itself, there were plenty of familiar faces on the bus ride to hopkinton and, then, the athletes village. gene, debbie and their crew of friends, kate, emmy, hugo, todd, mark, bekkie and joe (in costume), and herb were all around pre-race - just to mention a few.

as for the race itself, my sixth boston marathon is now in the books! except for the occassional headwinds, we had great weather (hard to believe after the lousy weekend weather) and awesome spectators! i finished in 3:38:03 - off my target of 3:30 - but still pleased with the outcome.

i'll write up a race report today. here are the race results from the baa.

Monday, April 19, 2010

a quick boston marathon update

just got home from boston... it's been a long day. the very short version, i ran a 3:38:02 -which was a bit off my target of 3:30. even so, i still managed to have a great time all around :D

tomorrow morning i'll post some pictures and write up a race report.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the baa 5k and a few more pre-boston marathon activities

sunday was a busy day in beantown, as contrasted with the relatively low-key saturday (marathon expo and dinner at cambridge brewing company). it kicked off with a trip to watch the b.a.a. 5k (and memories of the really great old days when it was just the plain old free "freedom run" - instead of its current pricey $40 incarnation)!

hugo and i met up with my good friend gene, who had volunteered as a course marshall for the event. despite the wet, raw conditions, we stuck around and watched some of the middle and high school invitational races (1 mile and shorter) that followed the 5k. then a quick stop as starbucks before heading back to the hotel to work out a room change (to a quieter location).

midday, met up with emmy and we walked over to beacon hill for lunch at "emmit's pub" - where i had an authentic irish breakfast (two irish sausages, irish ham, white pudding, black pudding, two eggs, toast, home fries and a grilled tomato)! that, not surprisingly, was washed down with a guinness :D

the walk back to copley was pretty gnarly - as getting caught in a sudden downpour might be - argh! instead of heading to the official b.a.a. pasta dinner, hugo invited us to have dinner with his friends running the marathon on behalf of fred's team. but, before we had dinner, the hotel had a complementary wine hour in the lounge - which we couldn't miss :D

and now, last but not least, onto business: running a marathon!

the cambridge brewing company - a boston craft beer bar :D

after the marathon expo saturday afternoon, we had dinner at the cambridge brewing company. it was a 20 minute walk from the convention center and we arrived to a pack house - with a 40 minute wait to get a table. but it the beer made the wait worthwhile - especially the seasonal "sgt. pepper" - a saison au poivre (a belgian-style ale with peppercorns)! i also tried another seasonal, the "black ryder" - a rye malt double india dark ale (which packed and incredible amount of alcohol)!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

greetings from boston!!

greetings from boston! arrived here mid-afternoon and went straight to the expo at the convention center! back at the hotel to regroup and map out plans for dinner - at the cambridge brewing company :D

Friday, April 16, 2010

happy birthday charlie chaplin!

charlie chaplin, born on april 16, 1889, is 121 years old in heaven today! chaplin died in switzerland in 1977 - he was 88 years old and the world's greatest comic genius. but comedy and film making aside, chaplin was an incredibly controversial political figure here in the united states- at least during the very cold war years of the late 40's and 50's.

his leftist politics were so anathema to the u.s. government that he was denied reentry to the united states in 1952 - after traveling to england for the premier of limelight. in 1953 chaplin vowed that he would never return to the united states! a vow that lasted until 1972, when he briefly returned the state to collect a special oscar at the academy awards. his appearance set a record for the longest standing ovation ever given a performer (5 minutes) in the academy's history!

three years later, in 1975, he was finally knighted by the queen. chaplin was first proposed for knighthood in 1931 - and again in 1956. but the british foreign office vetoed the proposal because of his communist sympathies and (im)moral behavior (his pair of marriage to 16 year old girls). sir charlie chaplin had by then become a living legend - and father of 8 children with his wife oona (the daughter of playwright eugene o'neill).

politics (and morals) aside, chapin was a great performer. his immortal character, the little tramp, has become a worldwide cultural icon. his comedies aren't just classics, but great films - in and of themselves! i'm huge fan of his work. over the years i've read many a chaplin biography. most recently, last year i read stephen weissman's "chaplin: a life" - an interesting psychological take on the impact of chaplin's impoverished childhood on his films.

last, but not least, despite loving his classic tramp comedies... my all time favorite chaplin film is undoubtedly the dark comedy, "monsieur verdoux" - narrowly edging out "the gold rush" for that honor :D

happy birthday in heaven sir charlie chaplin!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

helen weaver "the awakener: a memoir of kerouac and the fifties" book review

Helen Weaver’s “The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac in the Fifties” is the newest addition to the growing cannon of “women and the beat generation” literature. Weaver’s far ranging memoir covers much more than the brief, but intense, two month relationship she had with Jack Kerouac in the late fifties (which ended when she unceremoniously dumped him)! When Weaver and Jack dated, publication of “On the Road” was less than a year in the future. By the time “On the Road” was published - and Kerouac became an overnight sensation - Jack and Helen were no more. Kerouac had moved in with Joyce Glassman (to be Johnson).

Glassman became Weaver’s dreaded rival - or so it seemed in those days. Joyce Johnson’s own book, “Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir,” a minor classic in its own right, continued the look at Jack’s love life immediately following his relationship with Helen Weaver. Johnson’s “Minor Characters” was followed on the heels of the granddaddy (grand mommy?) of the genre, Carolyn Cassady’s “Heart Beat: My Life with Jack and Neil” (which was made into a movie of the same name, starring Sissy Spacek as Carolyn and John Heard as Jack). Cassidy revisited her look back with “Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac & Ginsberg” a decade later.

Weaver’s insightful book is deserves to be read right alongside Johnson and Cassady’s lives and times with Jack Kerouac. There are others in this genre - notable by Kerouac’s two ex-wives: Joan Haverty’s “Nobody’s Wife: The Smart Aleck and the King of the Beats,” and “You’ll be Okay” by Edie Kerouac Parker (his first wife). Except for Edie Parker’s book, I’ve read these all those books (and Johnson’s collected letters w/Kerouac) with intense fascination. To a woman, they each described the same self-centered character - who looking back through today’s politically correct lens, was basically an unmitigated heel in his relationships with women.

That said, Kerouac was decidedly a product of his times. Weaver’s take was in part sympathetic, but completely realistic. She had a strong sense of herself, character if you will - perhaps the strongest of the long line of women that populated Kerouac’s life. Weaver quickly tired of his drunken lifestyle. She perceptively grasped that his path would become increasingly darker, increasingly tragic, because of his growing dependency on alcohol. Weaver summoned up the courage - perhaps urged on by her psychoanalyst (which is how Kerouac wrote about it in “Desolation Angels”) - to kick him out of her apartment (and, as it turned out, her life).

In Weaver’s words: “I asked Jack to leave not because my analyst told me to and not because of some proto-feminist declaration of independence on my part. I rejected him for the same reason America rejected him: he woke us up in the middle of the night in the long dream of the fifties. He interfered with our sleep." The book’s title is a subtle double entendre - he repeatedly stumbled in during the middle the night and kept her from getting sleep (and it made getting up for work increasingly untenable)! But Kerouac, and his growing connection with Buddhism, also awoke her spiritual consciousness - and, over the years, gave her a deeper appreciation of life!

Weaver’s memoir relates much more than her brief time with Kerouac. Although, true to form, she was one of the rare characters in his life that refused to listen to his long and rambling - and drunken - late night telephone calls during the late 1960's. By that time she had already been involved with Lenny Bruce - she and her friend (the “other” Helen) drafted, and collected signatures for, a petition that defended Bruce’s free speech rights when the Manhattan District Attorney prosecuted (persecuted) him on obscenity charges. Bruce’s tragic death from a heroin overdose preceded Jack’s 1969 ugly death from alcoholism.

In the early 1970's Weaver abandoned New York City in favor of Woodstock. She had an exceptional career as a translator - and, simultaneously, became a practicing astrologer! If there is one weakness to her otherwise wonderful book, it’s the (for me) undecipherable appendix of astrological charts for Kerouac, Ginsberg, and herself! To each, her own - but my consciousness hasn’t expanded enough to encompass (or embrace) astrology! That said, “The Awakener” is a must read not just for Kerouac lovers, but Beat Generation fans of all stripes!

"make a difference" promotion - thanks starbucks!

thanks starbucks! what a way to kick off the day - even if that day happens to be april 15th, the dreaded tax filing deadline! the "make a difference" promotion is serving free coffee today - to those customers who show up with a reusable travel mug in tow. it's part of starbucks environmental push to get greener - by encouraging customers to switch from paper cups to reusable mugs.

since my love affair with coffee has ended (i gave up drinking coffee the week before lent, and haven't any since!), i opted for tazo china green tips brewed tea (with a little honey) to fill my travel mug. good stuff!

so grab your travel mug and get to a starbucks today!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 scarsdale 15k race report

I’ve run each of the “Scardale Races” - the 15K and 4 Miler (even the 2 Mile Kids Fun Run w/Katie) - multiple times over the last 10 years. This year, like last year, I had planned to run the 4 Miler with Katie. But when the date conflicted with her field hockey camp, I opted to run the 15K instead. It was a busy race morning - the Scarsdale 15K also conflicted with the Hudson Valley 15K (which I ran last year) and the Broadway Ultra Society’s (B.U.S.) combined 3 Hour Race followed by its annual awards brunch.

The 15K includes a masters team challenge (over 40 for women, over 50 for men). Emmy, Francoise and Noonie joined together for a team - and took first place! I was still a couple of years away from (but closing fast on) the male masters team minimum age. Joe Handleman (weeks away from his 80th birthday) kidded me about that (and promised to save me a place on his team down the road).

The four miler went off at 9:00, 15 minutes earlier than the 15K. I didn’t have a particular race plan in mind - but did want to finish under 1:10. It’s a tough course, with two notable hills. The first loop follows the 4 mile course and we get to see the 4 milers heading back to the high school on the outbound leg. Susan’s son, D.J., manned the 3 mile water station - and was a familiar face on the first loop.

I went out a bit too fast (6:56) for the first mile. The course was poorly marked - I only caught sight of two more markers (miles 3 and 7) before the finish. I slowed down to a 7:07 pace by the third mile (21:20). Still fast, but the next 4 miles took 29:30 (slowing the pace considerably), and I reached 7 miles in 50:50. The rolling hills are a natural speed brake! I had 19+ minutes for the last 2.3 miles to finish under 1:10 - very doable.

During the last two miles I moved into 6th place overall. But, as Murphy’s Law would validate, with the last half mile I was passed by some kid with an Ipod! He didn’t look like he was in his forties - and I paid the price for not reeling him! Not only was he in my age group, but his 12 second victory margin over my 1:07:19 finish eased me out of first, and into second, place in our age group! Arrgh!! But on a much brighter note, Emmy, right behind me in 1:08:06 - won the woman’s race outright!

But neither of us could stay for the award ceremony. After a quick look at the results board (I finished 7th overall) I grabbed a bagel and we drove down to Long Island for the B.U.S. brunch in Valley Stream. The brunch was practically over by the time we arrived, but there was still plenty of time to socialize and catch up. Most of them had put in about 20 miles during the 3 hour race held immediately before the brunch. We were the only slackers in the group - for having logged “just” 9.3 miles that morning ;p

Next up: back to the Boston Marathon after a one year hiatus! As always, say hello if you’re there!

Here are the race photos.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2009 new york ultrarunning grand prix awards brunch

this year the grand prix awards brunch came a couple of months later than usual its usual late january/early february time frame. it was also held at a different locale - valley stream instead of plainview (the glirrc clubhouse). but just like last year, emmy and i ran a race before making it to the brunch!

this time around it was the scarsdale 15k (last year, the gridiron 4 miler). as a result we missed the 3 hour race put on before the brunch. but we did get to socialize with our good friends - which made the trip to valley stream worth it!

as for the awards: aljica barahona and byron lane were the overall winners! phil took second place for the men, and susan took third place for the women! i finished in 5th place overall, and won my age group for the third consecutive year! emmy was 4th overall woman, and took first place in her age group!

here are the complete 2009 grand prix standings. congratulations to everyone who took part in the series!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2010 scarsdale 15k and 4 miler: race photos and results

ran the scarsdale 15k this morning - which was slight departure from my original plan to run the 4 miler w/katie. but as luck had it, ran a 1:07:20 and took second in my age group! emmy was the first female overall! the 15k was essentially a tune-up race for the boston marathon and i was very pleased with the outcome. i couldn't stay for the post-race festivities because we had to drive to long island for the b.u.s. (broadway ultra society) annual brunch.

here is my race report; and, here are the results from the rec department.