April 24, 2017

Cambridge, MA. September, 2009


David was on his way back from painting in Provincetown and I was happy he stopped for an overnight at my house. How to spend a lazy early-autumn Saturday? How about a walk through the Mount Auburn Cemetery? Criss-crossed with byways named Halcyon Avenue, Primrose Path (yes!) and Oxalis Path, this lovely spot of garden not far from Harvard Square provides the final resting places of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Winslow Homer, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Bernard Malamud, Buckminster Fuller, Mary Baker Eddy and several poets named Lowell, alongside many distinguished others with 19th-century names like Patience, Prudence and Joy. In the full-flush, last hurrah of its seasonal glory, the place never looked so radiant and overgrown as on this warm, late-September day. This simple waterlily pond, with all its shadows and reflections, looked to us like something an idle Impressionist might take a fancy to. We did.

April 23, 2017

Watertown, MA. April, 2011


My friend Nick bakes up a storm each Easter, always has. And when we lived closer to each other, I was able to enjoy the fruits of his labors more often than I do now. Instead, I either follow his infallible recipes to make these Easter specialties myself, or I try to find them at local Italian markets. This year, 2011, Nick is not only teaching a class in Italian Easter Baking at NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education, but he’s also at home this week making, according to his email, Pizza Rustica, Torta di Ricotta and both salty and sweet taralli. Me, I went to nearby Russo’s and bought some of their Pizza Chiena, a deep-dish olive-oil crust baked with a filling of ricotta, prosciutto, soppressata, Parmesan and more. The list of ingredients is somewhat flexible. Both Nick and my friend Dan each make theirs with heady combinations of Italian meats and cheeses. My friend Michael follows his nonna’s recipe with cheeses only, mostly fresh mozzarella. And when I mentioned Russo's version to a woman who works at my library, she said, "It's fine, but it's not like my mother's." I’ve seen this Southern Italian savory pie sometimes spelled Pizzagaina, which approximates a common pronunciation in Naples dialect. For the real backstory and Nick’s recipe, click here. Any way you make it, or spell it, it says Buona Pasqua.

April 22, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


Each time I visit my friends in Tucson, I set aside one day to walk from their home to the university, stopping along the way for breakfast, for perusing a thrift shop or two, for going through the galleries at the U of A. The downtown scene is different every single time. Old stores close or move, new ones pop up. Fortunately for me, my favorite store, seen here, seems a permanent fixture of the urban landscape. I've never gone inside. I've never needed to. The sign and the window display are enough for me.

April 21, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


It's official: Spring is here. At least according to the calendar. But the calendar means nothing here in New England. I tried to rush spring last month by taking a trip to visit my friends Simon and David in Tucson. Look at that lovely light on this palo verde, the glorious blue of that sky. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have some of this to enjoy here in Massachusetts sometime soon.

April 20, 2017

Gloucester, MA. April, 2008


We here in the Bay State suffer through some pretty tough winters, the last punishing remnants of which often linger through late spring. So when the sun finally does peek out for a few hours at a time, smiles also appear and people go down to the sea, anticipating summer pleasures. This April day I headed to Good Harbor Beach and was not alone. Dog-walkers, high-school kids, other winter-whipped souls were here, too. (I think that I suffer from what I call “Statue of Liberty Syndrome” -- when I grew up in New Jersey, I never visited Lady Liberty because she would always be nearby so why rush? The same is true for me now with Good Harbor. I can walk there...and so I rarely do, especially when everyone else packs the place during the dog days of summer.) I don’t know who lives in this house perched above the rocky seaside shore, but it always reminds me of the home in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Let’s hope the occupants are better behaved and a bit more upbeat than the Tyrone clan in O’Neill’s original “reality show.”

April 19, 2017

Galata Bridge, Istanbul. June, 2007


One of the great things about going for an early-morning run while I’m traveling (besides the exercise and the resulting good mood) is that I get to see parts of the city I normally might not see. In Istanbul, I’d run across the Galata Bridge when these fishermen were among the few already awake. Then I’d head up along the southern shore of the Golden Horn into areas not frequented by tourists. (In a park near the conservative Islamic neighborhood of Fatih, I once saw a woman covered in full black burkha, swinging on a playground’s jungle gym!) On another morning, I headed up along the Bosphorus, running through the Dolmabahce Palace gardens, passing only early commuters waiting for the bus. Or I’d run the path along the Sea of Marmara, watching an early-bird swim club climb down the rocks and jump into the currents of these fabled waters. In Paris, I had the early city to myself, running through the grounds of the Louvre, under the Eiffel Tower, all throughout the Luxembourg Gardens. In San Francisco, out through the park to the Pacific or across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Lisbon, Madrid...even Albuquerque was mine alone as I ran through the university campus long before classes started. It’s a wonderful way to get to know a city’s neighborhoods in an intimate and personal way...and not a tour bus in sight.

April 18, 2017

Villa Victoria, Boston. July, 2010


One of the many nice perks of leaving my corporate job? My time is suddenly my own, to spend in whatever way I choose. Such as at Boston’s first same-sex salsa dance class at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts just before this Tito Puente Latin Jazz Festival performance. Daniel, Evelyn and Ana were to meet me there between 5:30-6pm for the class. When they didn’t, I partnered with a goodnatured young woman from Berklee College of Music, just as much a novice as I was. The instructor, a vivacious young black man named Vladimyr, put us through our paces, and we were all just fine...until the music started. Then it was the latinos in the class who pretty much showed us gringos how it’s done. Still, in spite of our awkwardness, it was a lot of fun. And when mis amigos puertorriqueños finally arrived (sometime after 8pm), Daniel (in blue and shades) and Evelyn (seen here mid-twirl) announced they’d been “practicing,” which was evident from the way they took to the floor and salsa’d away...without looking at their feet or counting the steps! A miraculously cool break from the week’s heatwave, lots of laughs with great friends and some wonderful sounds from the band Son de Madre. Muchisimas gracias.

April 17, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


This detail of a work of religious folk art from Ecuador has got everything I like: devotional madness, collage and assemblage, miracles. I saw it last month at the Tucson Museum of Art and was immediately drawn to it. Look closely.

April 16, 2017

Springfield, NJ. Easter, 1954


My mother must have taken this photo on that Easter Sunday. (And must have forced me to wear that hat!) I love the way my brother Brien is so zonked out, already, before we even paid the customary holiday visit to my paternal grandmother and my Aunt Myra, Uncle Joe and cousins Billy, Bobby and Tommy...and then drove to pick up my maternal grandmother for dinner back at home. My father looks slick and suave. And I wish we could see more of our car in the driveway. Am I wearing saddle shoes? Happy Easter.

April 15, 2017

Lisbon. October, 2009


Sometimes my friends laugh at me for all the preparation I do in advance of a trip. So what? Part of the pleasure for me is the anticipation, the researching of places I’d like to see, meals I’d like to find. Before I visit a new country, I like to learn what its food is like, to pick up a little bit of the language, to read about sites, hotels, restaurants. I scour Chowhound, TripAdvisor, Let’s Go, Lonely Planet and more. And I check in with friends of friends who are chefs, cookbook authors and recent visitors. How else would I have learned about the Residêncial Alcobia on a quiet block near Lisbon’s Praça de Figueira. Or that Room #501 offers this lovely view of the Castello, glorious each morning at sunrise, gentle and bathed in pastels at sunset. (They also have an excellent breakfast buffet that we enjoyed after early-morning runs along routes I’d mapped out based on other runners’ web recommendations.) How else would I have been alerted to doce de cenoura com laranja, a local carrot jam that made excellent gifts for two of my most food-savvy friends? Or the excellent frango (spit-roasted chicken) at Bonjardim, or the bounteous seafood dinners across the river in Cacilhas? And how else would I have had a wonderful, if limited, conversation with two sisters who were selling their treasures at the Feira da ladra, Lisbon’s famed flea market? “Getting there is half the fun” as the Cunard Line used to say of travel on its transatlantic steamships. And for me, a lot of “getting there” is the prep.

April 14, 2017

Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, TX. April, 2010


Would someone please tell me what this odd juxtaposition of signs is supposed to mean? Yes, it’s Texas, but still. I often think about how confusing it must be for visitors from foreign lands when they encounter some of our local signage. Like trying to follow posted directions from Boston’s Logan Airport into the city proper. Half the signs are missing or have sloppily slid into opposite positions. Welcome and good luck. Even no-text, image-only signage can be a problem no matter where you are. Jay was in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport once and became puzzled by a graphic depiction of an individual rebounding from having run into a brick wall. What, he wondered, could this mean? (As it turns out, this was the airport’s way of indicating “No Exit.” SPQR, folks.) And at the movies many years before that in the Eternal Città, long before I knew any Italian, I walked into the ladies room (signori? signore? so close) and when I realized what I’d done, quickly hid in a stall when I heard others entering and remained there until the coast was clear. At least the weather during that Roman bathroom adventure didn’t seem “severe” in any way.

April 13, 2017

Eyüp, Istanbul. June, 2007


One sunny Sunday morning, I took the bus to Eyüp, an Istanbul neighborhood held sacred by Muslims because Abu Ayyub al-Ansar, the Prophet Muhammad’s companion and standard bearer, is buried there. Filled with relics and other holy objects, his turbe (tomb) is a traditional place of pilgrimage for devout Muslims, especially on Fridays for noontime prayer and before weddings and circumcisions...which is what these young boys are ceremonially dressed for. In the past, the sons of Sultans were treated to circumcision festivities that would last for weeks or even months. Special dishes were prepared, prayers recited, music and dancing devoted especially to this time, which marks a young man’s formal entry into the religious community of Islam. Nowadays it’s all done on a more modest scale. Still, the boy (generally between 2-14) will dress like an Ottoman prince with cape, scepter and crown. Somewhere on his outfit is the word Masallah (“Allah preserve him.”) In advance of the surgical procedure, the children are paraded around on horseback, in carts or cars followed by drummers and clarinet players. After the operation, while the guests feast on lavish fare, the boy is helped to relieve his pain in a special room by means of jokes, music and much gift-giving, including the traditional pinning of gold coins to his clothing. And after a few days when he has recovered, the festivities end. Masallah, indeed.

April 12, 2017

New York, NY. July, 1990


Sometimes all you really need is light. And shadows.

April 11, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


What the hell is this? An alcove outside of a mosque where visitors leave their shoes? An entryway to a Japanese home, also a place where guests leave their shoes outside? Nope. It's an artist's installation, seen on our gallery crawl one warm night last month. The shoes are all made from plaster, all grouped just inside the warehouse gallery's front door.

April 10, 2017

Douglas, MA. July, 2007


Look familiar? I love this photo. My wonderful friend Mike took it at his pal Larry’s pig roast one hot and humid July afternoon. I understood the full meaning of “scattered thunderstorms” that day as they hit with alarming regularity on my trip west along the Massachusetts Turnpike. So fierce were the sudden downpours that I had to weave my way around various accidents that had occurred along the high-speed Pike. Once at Larry’s farm, however, a different kind of commotion took over. Pie-eating contests, my first trip in a kayak, “The Polish Boys” who were working for Larry for the summer (one of whom was raking in a little extra cash by dropping his pants for $20 a pop in the garage, just saying), a wide range of people making for a terrific afternoon. And the food, of course. A huge kettle-roasted pig, sliced and served with all the summertime fixin’s you can imagine...and a late-night bonfire to boot! As Mike and I walked around the grounds earlier, we spotted these geese, I had an idea and handed Mike the camera with a quick, “Get ready and wait until I say ‘go.’” Just like Audrey Hepburn did in Funny Face. This is the result. Thanks, Mike.

April 9, 2017

Los Angeles, CA. October, 2007


We got up at dawn, trundled into the car and headed from the deserted Saturday morning streets of West Hollywood to a cavernous studio about 30 minutes out of town. The locked chain-link gates opened to let us in...and we were warned not to leave the premises as the neighborhood was “unsafe.” Ah, the glories of shooting a television commercial. Endless setup shots, making sure the lighting is flattering for the product (in this case, Bose noise-canceling headphones), that there are no shadows, that the bottom third of the onscreen frame will allow for a phone number and website to be added later, lots of considerations. The models who showed up looked little like their headshot promises. The demographic mix of passengers in the “airplane cabin” wasn’t varied enough. Someone didn’t like the chair that had been selected. Or the wardrobe. The tracking shot moved too quickly. It’s a wonder anything actually gets filmed. This was a characteristic 16-hour day. And while the “craft service” (aka snacks) was OK, and the catered lunch superb, I still would rather have joined Nick at Alan’s house in Santa Monica that night for Alan’s fabled brisket. Instead, I kept borrowing cellphones to update him and finally to cancel. At around 11:30pm, we wrapped, headed back to our hotel, readied for more of the same the following day. Still, when the beautiful spot was finally finished and broadcast, all of these troubles and annoyances remained unseen, just distant memories.

April 8, 2017

New York, NY. July, 1990


Here's another view of yesterday's small detail.

April 7, 2017

New York, NY. July, 1990


Every so often, when I'd visit my friend Nick at his Manhattan home, I'd go out alone with my camera, just looking. After awhile, I'd find myself focusing on small details rather than the larger picture. This shot of some glass bricks is one of those small details.

April 6, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


Talk about "old school." I love this sign on Tucson's funky Fourth Avenue. So striking among the head shops, the tattooed New Age vendors of herbs, aromas, crystals and all the rest. Plus, who says "pizza pie" anymore? I love it. But I suspect I wouldn't love eating there.

April 5, 2017

Hollywood, CA. January, 1990


Early on a Sunday morning, not exactly peak time along Hollywood Boulevard, we pretty much had the sidewalk to ourselves. Dali and I were in Los Angeles for a Mystery! press event and we decided to take in some of the sites. I can’t remember whose idea it was to actually lie down on the Walk of Fame, probably Dali’s. No problem. Linda Evans. Ann Miller. Jane Russell. Maybe not our first choices, but we leapt upon the closest ones, not wanting to tempt fate too much by getting down and dirty all over the avenida. Bronze star-plaques embedded in pink and charcoal terrazzo squares collectively make up the world’s most famous sidewalk, and the juxtapositions are often ironically amusing (Lassie next to Ronald Reagan; Garbo next to William Shatner) or touchingly appropriate (Judy Garland next to Mickey Rooney). A quick walkby clearly indicates a recent lowering of standards from the days of Rudolph Valentino, Bette Davis and Gary Cooper. (Shrek just got one? TV how-to pioneer Julia Child does not have one but Destiny’s Child does?) To “earn” a star, then as now, the honoree must appear at the installation ceremony in person -- no exceptions -- often bringing along some nearest and dearest. For example, when Bruce Willis (right next to The Lone Ranger) got his star in 2006, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone, Don Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton came to cheer him on. And if that lineup doesn’t speak to lower standards, I don’t know what does.

April 4, 2017

Florence, Italy. September, 1984


Today, a “postcard” from Florence of the Ponte Vecchio and the River Arno, taken from a window in the Uffizi...and a story from my friend and former colleague Lou. He and his wife, frequent visitors to the Tuscan city, were dining al fresco at one of their favorite trattorie, this one in the Piazza della Signoria, steps from the towering (copy of) David by Michelangelo. At the next table, an American tourist couple, the wife of which was fretting over the menu and grilling the waiter. “Do you have diet soda?” “I need something that’s low-carb.” “Do you have any fat-free entrees?” “What can you suggest as a low-calorie choice?” The waiter, a charming but increasingly exasperated Florentine, well-accustomed to tourists but unprepared for this kind of questioning, finally replied, “Signora, this is a restaurant, not a hospital.”

April 3, 2017

Gates Pass, Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


When Simon suggested that we drive through the desert to watch the sunset at Gates Pass, I got scared that we'd be driving down on the twisty narrow road that skirts the side of the mountains and gives onto the cactus-filled plains below. Instead, mercifully, we parked in the "scenic overlook" at the top and hiked a bit, taking dozens of pictures as the golden moment lit up the skies. Here's one of Simon, returning from a hike to the highest peak. This scaredy cat did not follow him there.

April 2, 2017

La Estrella Bakery, South Tucson, AZ. April, 2010


When I returned from Nogales, Mexico, to South Tucson, I decided to explore. Through residential neighborhoods (guarded by vigilant barking dogs), I made my way to Spanish-speaking South 12th Avenue and La Estrella Bakery, which I’d read was the “Best of Tucson” in a newspaper’s readers’ poll. A counter, a display case, a table with day-old breads, a back area where the baking is done -- this is a no-nonsense operation. Except for the names of some of the panes dulces on sale. Because of Nick’s interest in Mexican baking, I had to buy some: lenguas de suegra (mother-in-law’s tongues), piernas (legs), hebillas (belt buckles), elotes (corn), orejas (ears), coyotes, pig cookies and two kinds of pan de huevo. I headed back outside into the bright daylight where, I realized, I should photograph these sweets before someone ate them. I found a sunny curbstone, spread the pastries out along the opened box and got ready to shoot. Just then, an emaciated, really toxic-looking drunk man shuffled up and asked me why I was “taking pictures of the donuts.” I explained as simply as I could, and then asked him if he’d like one. “No thanks,” he said, “I’m watching my weight.”

April 1, 2017

Edirne, Turkey. June, 2007


I wanted to see more than just Istanbul on my first visit to Turkey, so I took an early morning bus from the rainy city to sun-filled Edirne, three hours west, on the borders with Greece and Bulgaria. What drew me here (aside from the thrill of being in Thrace!) was the famous Sinan-designed Mosque of Selimiye that established the architect's reputation when this was the capital of the Ottoman Empire. It was one of the few mosques I visited that had beggars positioned at focal entrances, human reminders of the Qu'ran's commandment to share one's wealth with those less fortunate. In addition to visiting Edirne’s Eski Cami ("old mosque") and a Sinan-designed hamam where I enjoyed a relaxing Turkish bath and a sensational "massage and rough scrub," I also took a walk out of the city to the Beyazit II complex with caravanseri (originally to house visiting pilgrims and their animals), medical school, public soup kitchen, hamam, storage rooms, insane asylum (where the main “instruments of healing” were the sounds of music and water) and mosque proper. Settled out in the undeveloped fields, it gave me a real idea of how most of these mosques I'd been visiting in Istanbul had originally sat upon spacious grounds, their minarets visible to the approaching traveler from miles away. No one was in the Beyazit II mosque when I visited, the prayer rugs were all rolled up and stashed in a niche built into an outside wall. Then, almost out of nowhere, a young man bicycled up, removed his shoes, washed his hands and feet and entered the mosque to pray, one of five times he would probably do so this day and everyday.

March 31, 2017

Gloucester, MA. February, 2017


Is it just me, or doesn't everyone like a foggy photo? Here's a recent one taken at a golf course near our home during some serious Saturday morning fog.

March 30, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


I am not a cat person. But Dr. Blake is. And so whenever I visit Simon and David, this cat-allergic traveler brings along a suitcase full of antihistamines and a camera to capture the latest developments of Weasel, Dr. B's favorite. "Weasel is a nice cat," he says. David tells me that's not exactly the case as Weasel has taken to biting, usually after a full display of affection. Sounds like so many people I know. This visit, Weasel was cautious and skittish around me for one day...and then spent the remaining time trying to get into my lap, usually during mealtimes. This is the picture I sent Dr. B.

March 29, 2017

Chianti, Italy. October, 1981


My first real trip to Italy (I'd been there for dinner in a border town while I was staying on the French Riviera in 1972) was with my friend Dali. She'd lived in Italy before and knew exactly the right itinerary for this starry-eyed novice. Rome. Florence. Padova. Venice. Back to Rome. We'd stop along the way for lunch or for photo opportunities. Like this one. So many vineyards in Tuscany. So many classic views of grapevine-filled fields and hills. No wonder Italian wines are so good (if memory serves) and so plentiful.

March 28, 2017

South Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


My friend Simon is a public artist, designing projects around the country that incorporate elements of light, color, sculpture, whimsy, magic. His "rattlesnake bridge" has become one of Tucson's recognizable icons, one I delight in seeing on each visit to that Southwestern town. So when he asked me if I'd like to accompany him to the foundry that was manufacturing the models for his latest project, I jumped at the chance. Warned not to pet the resident German Shepherd, I happily complied. But what was I to make of this sign that greeted us at the foundry's front door?

March 27, 2017

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ. Autumn, 1995


I still look like this, right? Ha ha ha. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted. Still is fun. This is my first trip to the Grand Canyon, what David Hockney calls a "must" trip to "the biggest hole in the world." I was visiting my friends Simon and David in Tucson and we set off on a road trip. Perfect weather, perfect sights, perfect companions. I smile every time I look at this photo and relive the memories.

March 26, 2017

Hudson, MA. January, 2010


One of the great things about living in the Bay State is the wide range of ethnic neighborhoods to be found from Boston outwards. A recent discovery: the Portuguese community in Hudson. Hailing not only from Portugal but also from Brazil and the Azores, the welcoming folks in this small town serve up their culture, their cuisine, their language to anyone who wants to appreciate them. Like me. So when some colleagues offered a lunch to mark my leaving “the corporation,” I suggested a Brazilian buffet nearby. Heidi and Stan seemed game, so off we went. It was simple and satisfying: fried plantains, saucy beans, savory rice dishes, unidentifiable meat stews. But best of all may have been our stop at Silva’s Bakery on the same block where we purchased some amazing rolls (crusty outside, moist crumb inside) and a dazzling assortment of pastéis with fillings that included bean, orange, almond and the flaky, black-topped, egg-rich-custard delight we’d loved so much in Lisbon, the pastel de nata. (As you can see, I bought two of those.) Good thing I snapped this photo relatively quickly, because these beauties disappeared very soon afterwards.

March 25, 2017

Tucson, AZ. May, 2005


There are so many reasons I love Tucson, none more than the heady mix of sacred and profane that blends so easily into the everyday life of this university town just an hour north of the Mexican border. For example, this video store that I pass every morning along my Congress Street running route. I have never seen anyone go in or out in all my years of watching. It sits across a lazy intersection from a heavily barred drive-thru liquor store, scene of occasional “situations.” In spite of a casual facelift, it still looks like the gas station it once was. Diego Rivera would smile, I think, at the miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe mural along its western wall (complete with a small milagro-filled commemorative shrine.) Then there’s that big VIDEOS boldly emblazoned mid-apparition as if to proclaim modern technology’s own miracle available on demand, right here, right now. In this dry land of rattlers and other serpents, even the snakey green garden hose seems biblically right at home. Oh, sure, the Arizona sun has taken its toll on the mural, fading it with each passing year since it was painted, until its now-pastel hues might seem more at home in Miami Beach than in the Southwest Sunbelt. No matter. The miracle remains.

March 24, 2017

Istanbul. June, 2007


I sometimes wonder why I love to travel alone. Yes, I enjoy the pleasure of a friend’s company at mealtimes and for occasional shared excursions, but the more foreign and exotic my destination, the more I treasure time spent solo. Maybe it’s because I like to immerse myself in the everyday life of the place I’m visiting in a way that tends to make companions impatient -- lingering in Montreal or Mexico supermarkets to see packaging in a foreign language, stopping by the Las Vegas or Miami Beach public libraries, sitting in a Lisbon or Segovia park to see how locals pass their idle time. In Turkey, I became fascinated by Muslim people’s behavior in mosques. Some would be silent and reverent. Others, especially those with young children, would refreshingly treat the vast interior as if it were their living room or the public square. Still more interesting to me were the outwardly secular (uniformed policemen, suited businessmen, et al.) entering and revealing their sacred selves in a personal, devotional way. For me, solo travel also erases the slate, allows me to be whoever I choose to be. No one knows me. One of my favorite memories is of a young man’s stopping me on Istanbul’s Istiklal Caddesi one evening to inquire (in Turkish) the time. When I showed him my watch, he said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were Turkish.” I wasn’t sorry at all.

March 23, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


After Simon, David and I had attended several gallery openings this evening, we were enjoying dipped cones at the local Dairy Queen, when a man whom I'll generously call "middle aged" walked by in a complete bride's outfit: dress, veil, wig, bouquet, heels, the works. (A "late December" bride, he should brush and floss more often if he wishes to retain what's left of his teeth. Just saying.) Later, as we were returning to the car, we saw several more visions in white and realized that there must have been some bridal-themed event at IBT's, the local gay bar. Here's another participant, an undone drag queen waiting for the 4th Avenue streetcar, his wig removed and plopped on the seat next to him. I love Tucson.

March 22, 2017

Gloucester, MA. February, 2017


When I arrived in G'ster on this Saturday morning, the fog was magical and I went to the beach and snapped many pictures before the skies cleared and the sun came out. Only later that day, as the fog returned in the evening, did I see how much more magical the skies could be. Here's what it looked like from our back deck.

March 21, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


You know how you have certain friends who, no matter how much time elapses between your meetings, you pick up right where you left off, as if nothing at all had transpired in the years since you last spoke? Kate is one of those friends. She and I worked together at public broadcasting in Boston some 25 years ago and didn't reconnect until not long ago in Tucson. Now, each trip I make to that Southwest town, she and I meet for breakfast at The Little One (formerly known as Little Cafe Poca Cosa) and we scream and laugh our heads off, as seen here earlier this month.

March 20, 2017

Grand Teton National Park, WY. July, 1992


Why am I jumping for joy? My friend Donna's birthday? The first day of spring? Because I love jumping pictures? All of these and more. This was my first trip to the West and I loved it. I even went for a swim in this chilly lake nestled among the snow-covered mountains in the Teton Range.

March 19, 2017

Stoneham, MA. March, 2010


Is there anything better than Italian home cooking? No. I still remember the first time I went to my friend Nick’s family’s house for dinner when I was in high school. (I had grown up in an Irish-American home, not known for its fine dining.) When Nick’s mother brought the lasagna to the table, I thought I was in heaven. And then to find out that it was only the first course, that there would be more? Lord, take me now! (It was on a follow-up visit that I offered to serve Nick’s mother some pasta, I doled out a ladylike portion, and she replied, “Jesus Christ! Could you spare it?”) A few years ago, when I learned that my friend Paul’s Sicilian mother made a traditional pasta dish with garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs (symbolizing the carpenter-saint’s sawdust) for Saint Joseph’s Day, I hinted heavily that I would love to try it. The following March 19, Paul was selfishly on vacation in Florida (priorities!), but this year, 2010, he was home and I was kindly invited. What a great night! Paul’s family was a treat, his mother a hoot! And the food! In addition to the pasta c'a muddica, there was a resplendent antipasto spread, stuffed artichokes, frittatas, sausages, Italian bread...and for dessert, zeppole di San Giuseppe (big cream-puff-like pastries with three kinds of filling: whipped cream, pastry cream and ricotta with chocolate chips.) I am always ready at a moment's notice to join the festivities. [UPDATE 3/19/17: Guess where I'll be having dinner in a few hours?]

March 18, 2017

Tucson, AZ. March, 2017


As we entered the main lobby of the Tucson Museum of Art, we encountered a number of installations, including this one: a screen, a light source, a space to, well, improvise. Then we encountered Kita, a bubbly young woman with multi-colored hair and oversized star-shaped earrings sparkling with turquoise glitter. When she entreated me to join her in making shadows on the screen, of course I complied. Little did we know that my friend Simon was on the opposite side of the screen, camera at the ready. Here's the result.

March 17, 2017

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland. May, 1992


My father nursed my mother through a debilitating illness at the end of her long life. And after she died, I waited six months and then asked him if he’d like to take a trip to Ireland. He’d never been out of the country (except for his WWII posts in Japan and New Guinea) and I thought he might want to visit his own mother’s birthplace and some of the locations he’d been singing about for years (ex. Galway Bay.) He did. So I made the arrangements and off we went. Driving south from Dublin and then up the west coast, we approached the famed Cliffs of Moher, at which point my father announced a fear of heights (“I’m afraid I’ll jump off”) and a desire to return to our B&B. He had a point; the cliffs are some 700 feet high and only the flimsiest of cordons is there to prevent you from falling straight down to the Atlantic Ocean below. Delivering my father to the B&B, I soon returned to the cliffs where I encountered this fearless brother and sister, fresh from church and their First Holy Communion. Almost 25 years have passed. I wonder who they grew up to be. And if they still go to Communion. [I post this same photo every Saint Patrick's Day, I love it so much.]

March 16, 2017

Charlestown, MA. March, 2016


Twice a year, as do many American cities, Boston declares "Restaurant Week," (now foolishly re-branded as "Dine Out Boston.") Restaurateurs, especially those who want to beef up their potential customers list, offer special menus at reduced prices. My friend Christian and I decided to try a local Moroccan place, Tangerino, seen here. I like basic and unfussy places, where they focus their energies on the food rather than on the decor. (Tablecloths tend to make me suspect and uncomfortable.) And while this place was OK, it was a little self-conscious and heavily draped. The Restaurant Week meal was good, relatively inexpensive compared to other weeks of the year...but I suspect I won't be returning soon to this red-velvety, louche spot. Thank G_d the belly dancer was not on that night.

March 15, 2017

Rome. October, 1981


This is one of my favorite photos. I took it on my first trip to Rome in 1981 with my friend Dali. A boatman on the River Tiber seen from a bridge above. I like the composition, the color...and the memories that this oarsman brings up. A beautiful trip, the first of many to the Eternal Città.

March 14, 2017

San Gimignano, Italy. October, 1981


Sharpen your pencils. There’s something about the onset of autumn that always makes me feel good. Maybe it’s the former schoolteacher in me, the tendency toward organization and a tightening of the laziness brought on by summer’s heat and humidity. Even in this medieval Tuscan hilltown I was drawn toward the local schoolbus, appropriately sized for this tiny walled hamlet not far from Siena, still relatively uncrowded when I visited some 30 years ago. I remember a man selling bottles of homemade Vernaccia wine from his open garage. I wonder what changes three more decades of tourism have wrought. I love and am amused by the fact that San Gim is sometimes called “the Manhattan of Italy” because of its 14 towers, though these famed structures were mostly built in the 12th century rather than the 20th. Originally founded by Etruscans and later named after a bishop who defended the town from Attila’s Huns, the town has a rich history and has now been recognized as an official UNESCO World Heritage site. I suspect that the schoolbus and its inhabitants haven’t changed too much as a result of this distinction.

March 13, 2017

Watertown, MA. February, 2017


Pretty. Atmospheric. Peaceful. These are words friends have used to describe this night photo of my street after several days of snowfall. Or, more personally, several days of snow shoveling. I'm hoping that by the time you read this, I will have already been to visit my friends Simon and David in Tucson, will have returned home to a Massachusetts poised for springtime with no more snow in its future. [Update: Spoke too soon. An estimated 12-18 inches of snow forecast for tomorrow. A week ago I was applying sunscreen in the Arizona desert. Sigh.]

March 12, 2017

Annisquam, MA. May, 2010


Do you like kids? Meet Lulu. She and her brother Yuk-Yuk are two baby goats that we met recently when our friends Charlene and Steve adopted them to keep their older goat Pepi company. (After Pepi’s female companion had passed away, he cried for two months until these youngin’s appeared.) Jay was too reserved to hold the little critters, but I wasn’t, and Steve snapped this photo. As I was cradling her, Lulu dug her face into the the crook of my sleeve and at one point began to nibble tentatively on my shirt pocket. I loved it. This was the first day they’d been separated from their mother and they were a bit mouthy, but I’m told that they have since settled in and calmed down, and that the three goats now sometimes even nap together. Charlene and Steve live on a steep piece of rocky land in this Gloucester neighborhood that gives onto the Annisquam River, and they began raising goats not for the milk, not to make cheese, but as a way to keep the invading brush from overgrowing their property. It seems to be working.

March 11, 2017

Paris. December, 2005


Paris. City of Lights. City of Eating. Before I’d set off on this winter trip, I did my homework and had made a list of various recommended cheese shops to visit. The hallowed Barthélémy (Catherine Deneuve shops here) at 51 Rue de Grenelle was a small gem, its bounty displayed to suggest a haughty superiority that carries over into its customer service. (When I asked a saleswoman in French if she could help me, her reply was “Perhaps.” She slowly warmed and made some recommendations, all of which I later enjoyed in my hotel room along with some bread from nearby Poilâne.) But the real sampler’s delight is La Fromagerie 31 at 64 Rue de Seine. There in a small cafe attached to the shop, Nick and I were able to taste platters prepared for each of us, a total of 14 excellent cheeses...in addition to our special order of a Vacherin. We were asked first if we liked blue cheeses. Yes. When the plates arrived, we were kindly guided to start at the top and work our way around clockwise, the cheeses increasing in pungency. Comté, Reblochon, Camembert, Pont l’Évêque, Livarot, wonders all. (La Fromagerie 31 offers sampling plates of five, seven or nine cheeses.) A little soup, a little salad, bread, cheese -- our perfect lunch as a rare Parisian snow began to fall.

March 10, 2017

Pemaquid Light, ME. September, 1986


Jay’s parents vacationed in Maine for years before finally building a summer home there on McCurda Pond when he was in graduate school. And that’s where I first met them. I knew that Jay’s father was a cartoonist (he penned the strip Tiger), but I didn’t know that his mother had worked at Vogue (he casually mentioned this to my great excitement as we approached the house) as a photographer’s assistant. When I asked his mother if I might’ve known any of the photographers she’d assisted, she calmly said, “Probably. Cecil Beaton?” (His stylish mother never quite adjusted to Maine after her New Jersey upbringing, claiming that the local poultry man spoke in such a way that she couldn’t tell if he was saying “roaster” or “rooster.”) Over the several occasions we visited them, a routine developed: buying blueberry pies from Dot’s roadside stand, driving to Round Pond for lobsters, sometimes heading to Pemaquid Point to see the lighthouse and climb on the rocks, beaten by the rough Maine sea. On this trip, the fog was so thick we didn’t risk a climb. But we were treated to a misty, evocative early-afternoon scene that suggests some of the wildness early settlers encountered here before “summer people” arrived “from away.”

March 9, 2017

Watertown, MA. May, 2016


I like to cook. And I like cookbooks. The real kind, made of paper, whose pages you can turn. Over the years, those pages, with their stains and smudges of splashed ingredients, tell their stories. But as my kitchen bookshelves become overloaded, I have to choose (with the delicacy of Sophie or Solomon) which volumes need to find new homes. Here, a selection in the out box. Some went to my friend Bonnie, a cookbook vendor in NYC; some to the library, some into a yard sale pile. See any you'd like?

March 8, 2017

South Tucson. April, 2010


On the Dallas-to-Tucson flight, I was seated next to an arguing couple who kept at it for almost two hours. When we landed, she finally said, “Let’s go get a hot dog.” Oh, no! I thought I was the only gringo who’d heard about Sonoran hot dogs, the latest local fast-food rage. Within moments, my beloved friend David (himself a vegan!) had kindly whisked me off to El Güero Canelo for a sampling. (Actually, I ordered a Sammy Dog, distinguished, according to the posted menu, by “two winers.”) Hot dogs estilo sonora: a frankfurter, wrapped in bacon, topped with beans, salsa, mustard and mayo, cradled in a football-shaped soft roll. Pretty darned good. So good, in fact, that I ventured into South Tucson the next day on my way back from Mexico to try the fare at BK Carne Asada y Hot Dogs. You can see what I ordered (good thing I speak a little Spanish): two hot dogs estilo sonora, with all the fixin’s...one I topped with chopped black olives and the other with avocado mayo. Grilled pimientos on the side, por favor. I’d ordered a Diet Coke, but how could I say no when asked, “¿Pepsi está bien?

March 7, 2017

The Kasbah, Tangier. November, 2010


Come with me to the you-know-where. Eschewing the guided tour organized by the cruise line (in spite of many warnings that Tangier was not a place to wander alone), off we wandered. And it was great. Or at least I thought it was. Jay, who had previously been a-scared of even going to sophisticated Istanbul, blanched when our cruise itinerary changed and suddenly included this Moroccan port. Still, he was a good sport and, I think, trusted that maybe I knew what I was doing. What I was doing was getting lost in the medina, the old Arab section of the city, criss-crossed by dark alleyways and twisty passages that led to nowhere but dead ends. Trying (mostly) successfully to bypass aggressive beggars and “guides” of all ages, we arrived (miraculously) in the fabled Kasbah at the top. And a bit later on our way down again, we found ourselves in a small enclosed square, a woman filling her water jug at a pump in its center. Five paths led from the square and I pointed to one and, hoping she spoke Morocco’s second language, asked, “Fermé?” She pointed to all five in succession and said, “Fermé. Fermé. Fermé. Fermé. Non fermé.” We took the obvious choice and continued without any further snags.

March 6, 2017

Watertown, MA. August, 2016


My friend Ernest is usually the one who alerts me to the celebrations linked to certain days. National Friendship Day. National Hot Chocolate Day. National Multiple Personality Day. Stuff like that. (Today, by the way, is, among other things, both National Dentists Day and, somewhat relatedly, National Oreo Cookie Day.) However, expert that Ernest is, he did not warn me about National Lemon Meringue Pie Day. I suspect that might be because it is an invention of the supermarket whose flyer you see here. I did, on that day, alert my friend Mike, who, while he claims not to like pie (what is wrong with him?), he does make an exception for lemon meringue pie. (When I told this to our friend Dave, he responded, "That's a queen thing.")