The Intoxication of Poetry

Two-time Poet Laureate, Howard Nemerov, and celebrated photographer, Diane Arbus, had a great deal in common. This talented brother and sister act shared what I would call an emotionally brittle nature, and a lifelong battle with depression. Arbus, famously, lost that battle at a young age. Her suicide was no desperate plea for help; she […]

Occupy Inner Space

Terrified and utterly defeated I crawled into talk therapy in 1986 and walked away 17 years later. I learned that analysis is like “exploring inner space” – in the same sense that Lewis & Clark fearlessly plunged into an unknown world. A journey like that is almost certain to be filled with loss, sadness, monsters, […]

The Main Thing WWII Taught My Dad

My father was a gifted storyteller. If I was good he would tell me one at bedtime. My favorite concerned a troop ship anchored in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Italy. This is how it went. He and his men were asleep; it was late at night and silent. (My dad fought through the […]

Until You Have Had Nothing You Have Not Had It All

It was the great Taz Mopula who observed, “You just haven’t lived until you’ve had nothing at all.” This counter-intuitive proclamation is quite possibly enigmatic to many, but for those of us who’ve wandered the uneven cobblestones of Rue Whassamattavous, the meaning is only too familiar. Madness – and the madness of addiction – will […]

Escalator Broken Use The Steps

In the damp church basements of recovery it is often observed that the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous are in the order they’re in for a good reason and one should work them sequentially. This tenet is underscored because, as a rule, alcoholics are belligerent, defiant, and rebellious in an infantile, pointless sort of way. […]

It Isn’t The Caboose That Kills You

Even as a kid I had difficulty managing money. Along with my sketchy friends I’d go to the nearby abandoned coal yard and lay pennies out on the railroad tracks, collecting what remained once the trains were gone. If you’ve ever done this yourself you know that Lincoln is no longer recognizable, what’s left looks […]

There Is No Need To Reinvent The Lemur

I have been a promotion writer for 30+ years. Essentially, promotion writing involves making true statements in a way that encourages readers to arrive at false conclusions. For example, when I say that our vinyl siding virtually never needs painting I’m actually saying our siding needs painting. “Ultimately it’s not what you don’t say that […]

Sociology Of Mental Illness

Recently, the Party Planning Committee at Chumley Fortesque Memorial Community College invited me to deliver my bread and butter lecture, “Why You So Messed Up, Man?” I accepted. A bright-eyed assemblage of students still clutching desperately onto the concept of upward mobility, and several inebriated janitors ducking responsibilities, filled the dingy lunchroom, which had been […]

What’s Wrong With Being Not Right For Everyone?

My father leveraged his iconoclastic, condescending personality into an asset; and rode it to celebrity. Only much later did I come to see that he craved approval, even adulation, the way an addict craves narcotics. Like an addict, his hunger was insatiable; the more validation he received the more he needed. Watching in terrified awe, […]