Remembering ‘The Rising’ and More

On this, the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I am remembering and listening to The Rising album by Bruce Springsteen, who wrote new tracks in the aftermath that, to me anyway, touched an emotional nerve of how the world had changed, on a small human scale of the stories of loss and survival of his characters in a landscape changed in a single day.

A few years ago, a bass player in my band unexpectedly shared his experience of being in New York City that day of September 11 over a band dinner, and later, he and I continued the discussions, as he shared his writing and poems from those days. I took some of his pieces and crafted a poem as gift back to him and his memories.

And finally, today is also the birthday of my youngest son — born a few years after 2001 but on the same day — and each year, as the world grieves in memories, my wife and I remind him and ourselves, and everyone else we know, that his presence is a gift of beauty and love to the world on a day often shrouded in loss.

Peace (to all),
Kevin

 

 

Broken Love: My Son’s Making a Movie

Colin Sam Movie Pitch

My eldest son – who works as a video editor and producer — and his childhood friend — who is in the final editing stages of his first novel — are making a movie.

They, and friends, have been making movies since they were small — all sorts of grand adventures around our neighborhood that still bring smiles to my face from the memories — and now they have written a feature film called “Broken Love” and are raising money to shoot two scenes, in hopes of pitching the film to investors down the line.

From their online pitch:

“Broken Love” tells the story of an escaped convict, Ethan, who returns to his hometown in Upstate New York to recover the $200,000 in dirty money he hid before his capture and to flee to Canada with his fiance, Jenny, and their young daughter. He returns, however, to find that two local thugs are after his money and that Jenny is now in a relationship with his childhood best friend, Todd, who also happens to be the policeman in charge of his recapture. It’s a drama inspired by the real-life escape from Dannemora prison in 2015 and also by emotionally-charged relationship films like Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” and “The Place Beyond the Pines” as well as the darkly comedic crime thrillers of the Coen Brothers.

You should not feel under any obligation to donate but I feel the obligation (and pride) as the father of one of the filmmakers here to share their Kickstarter page in my network. I love that they are still collaborating after so many years and with different, but still creative, trajectories in their lives.

If you are interested, here is the link to the kickstarter campaign for “Broken Hearts.”

Peace (on film),
Kevin

Random Access Poetry: Heading Off On An April Blog Hiatus

It’s always good to take a breather from the blog, particularly after a month of Slice of Life. So, for April, I am going to put this blog space on hold and focus on writing my morning poems.

Like last year, I am going to tap into random photographs and other discovered media to inspire some poetry each morning over a cup of coffee. That’s the ‘random access’ part of things, since I am doing no planning until I am ready to discover something and then write it.

This site is where I will be posting them poems, if you are interested.

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace (in poems),
Kevin

Book Review: Vesper Flights

I know very little of birds, so reading Helen MacDonald’s Vesper Flights (like her last book, H Is For Hawk) is like entering an unknown forest and paying attention to the world. Her writing is a tour guide, and with this collection of essays, MacDonald continues to spin literary magic — bringing the reader closer to the ground and closer to air, to notice the animals and the landscape in different ways.

Vesper Flights also provides MacDonald a chance to anchor her own personal experiences, from childhood to adulthood, with her curiosities that make her writing so exquisite to read and to absorb, with beautiful prose lines in every piece.

Her overall message, although one that she does not hammer you over the head with, is how climate change and people are changing the environmental landscapes, and that animals are changing, too, either by disappearing or relocating or dying off. She writes with intent, reminding us all of our obligations as fellow passengers in this world of wonder that other living creatures are here, too, sharing this space with us.

The essays in Vesper Flights are a crash course in varieties of birds (more names than I could ever remember) but also in our shared humanity. The stories of the wild always intersect with our own, MacDonald suggests, and we best pay attention to it.

Peace (in flight),
Kevin

Getty 2020: Our Empty Spaces

Getty Images has put out a few 2020 videos, and I found this one — about empty spaces — both intriguing and disheartening. In our area, some of the local performance spaces have now shuttered doors for good or for now. But I saw that our city’s First Night Celebration is going virtual, in order to hang on for another year.

Then I saw another of the Getty videos, about tenacity, and I felt a bit more upbeat about how so many of us found a way to keep moving forward with creativity and community.

Peace (echoing out),
Kevin

Local Music: All We Ever Have (Jim Armenti)

I caught a listen to this song from a local musician – Jim Armenti — that was supported by our local arts organization. I love how Jim captures our small city’s collective efforts in the Pandemic to stay safe and support each other. I hope yours, does, too.

And then a local arts/dance group made this, too, in the park down the street as a way to help get out the vote.

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

And Then We’re Full In – Really?

new school bike racks

Stop me if you’ve heard this: Ignore the health experts. Misinterpret the science. Open it all up.

Our School Committee this week voted to bring everybody back to our school, in full, in a phased-in approach. This, despite a strong argument from our school district health leader (with support of the local health board) that our school, particularly our stressed and strained nursing staff, is not equipped for such an influx of students. This, despite the need for another isolation room. This, despite concerns over a new HVAC report that raised questions about air flow in places around our school, like the school nurses’ office. This, despite a long line of teachers expressing concern about teaching in classroom full of students. This, despite growing numbers of the virus in the communities, now spiking red, around us. This, despite the holiday season approaching, when many families will no doubt interact with other family and friends outside of the home.

Some members of the committee were adamant against this plan to re-open in full, but they were in the minority.

One almost expected to hear the phrase “herd immunity” by those in the majority voting forward the decision to open, in full (over Zoom, by the way). We didn’t hear that phrase, thankfully, but it felt a bit like Dr. Atlas might have been whispering in the ears of decision makers as they removed the 6-foot social distancing requirement we’ve been working with in our Hybrid Model.

Peace (calm),
Kevin

Slice of Life: It’s All So Dang Quiet

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

The first thing I noticed as we began our first day back in the school building since March with students (half of them, anyway) was the quietness of the building. The hallways, shining from cleaning and new lighting; the cafeteria, set up for one student per table for lunches; our classrooms, with desks spaced apart; everywhere.

So quiet.

And the students, on their first day back to our school but not their first day of school, were subdued. Maybe it was the masks. Maybe it was learning the protocols of how to move through the building and how to clean desks and when we can go outside to get fresh air. Maybe it was all just very overwhelming. Just as important is the class sizes, of no more than 10 students per classroom at this point (the other half of the classes are home, doing independent learning and come to school on Thursday and Friday).

I asked people about the quiet, which was so noticeable in a building often filled with loud students and raucous energy. They all noticed but whether they liked it or not was rather mixed. Same with my students, as some said they like the quietness of the classrooms, and hope to get more schoolwork done. Others admitted they missed the noise of friends, even as they were happy to be back.

Outside, under a tent, for a mask break, the students could chat with each other, although a few pairs of friends had to be reminded about social distancing more times than once.

“How long will we have to do this?” one boy asked, exasperated, after being told to move a few more feet away from a friend he had not seen in person since March.

“For as long as we need to stay safe,” I replied, sympathetically.

Another student chimed in, “Until the virus is gone.”

A fourth noted, rather sadly, “And who knows when that will be.”

We all went quiet at that.

Peace (back in the building),
Kevin