Less Than Human

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That lovable curmudgeon, W.C. Fields, is quoted as saying, “Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.”

That’s what many political analysts say happened in the presidential election last week. But with each side regarding the other as something a little less than human, Fields doesn’t seem so funny.

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Two of Every Thing

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“Broken Vows” was painted by Philip Hermogenes Calderon in 1856. Now at the Tate Gallery in London, the painting, which was wildly popular in its time, captures a woman discovering that her lover is unfaithful. My friend, artist Johniene Papandreas, rendered her vision of this masterpiece (below), displayed in my Cape Cod home. I offer these thoughts to all who have suffered the abiding pain of infidelity.  

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Billy of the Tulips

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When Nick Valenti put his 15-year-old son on the street to teach him a lesson, the tough-as-nails cop didn't dream he was setting the vulnerable Billy on a months-long odyssey that would force him to come to terms with an intimidating adult world and his place in it. 

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The Cost of Love

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Earlier this week I happened to come across a snippet of a sermon by St. Augustine. You remember St. Augustine, the young man of means who partied through his youth. Even when he matured and discovered God, he prayed for chastity and continence, “but not yet.”

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Do you notice

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I own a number of Inuit sculptures, each as dense and elemental as the Earth from which it’s wrested. When I pass by one of the pieces, my hand, by some primal instinct, reaches out to caress its silken surface. Cold, yes, and hard, but alluring all the same. And responsive. My touch seems to summon the rock from eons past into the eternal now. The Inuit envision humankind reincarnating in concert with the creatures who sustain their earthly lives. Many of their sculptures depict this movement from human to animal, animal to human. Ever the circle. 

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The Death Cafe

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I counted thirteen participants, a disquieting number for a meeting about death. 

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Autumn Water

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Feeding the fish at dusk yesterday was noticeably chilly. As I sat on the concrete bench at the bank of the cascading koi ponds, I saw that the fish are getting sluggish. The water temp is dropping and their sensitive bodies have begun to acclimatize to approaching winter. Their tiny hearts ultimately will slow to a single beat per minute as they hibernate under the pond ice and sleepily await spring. The miracle of their seemingly simple yet utterly complex existence moved me to this: 

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The Majestic Diner

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Route 17 cutting through the New Jersey suburbs toward Manhattan was bumper to bumper by seven yesterday morning, with clutches of commuters at bus shelters along the way expectantly watching for their transportation. When I stopped for breakfast, a humble ingredient in the omelet led to larger thoughts of first romances long forgotten in a work-weary world. 

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Friends or Playmates?

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A perfect storm of three related coincidences this week has unnerved my until-now comfortable persona as a single, widowed man.

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Saints and Poets, Maybe

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Two months ago, I announced a hiatus from my weekly blog posting in order to free myself to complete the books that have been percolating in my head and in my laptop. 

During that time, I declared my novella, Charming Billy, completed, and I sent the manuscript to Narrative magazine.

Now I’m proud to tell you I’ve completed my next project and sent my essay collection to my editor, Stacey Donovan, for her review prior to publication as a book. Its working title is Saints and Poets, Maybe.

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