Running for Your Life: Running for Your Life

There have been many times, I have to admit to myself, over the past five decades when I say to myself, How about easing up on this running thing. In fact, the two most typical questions I’m asked during social occasions are:

“You still use a flip phone?” (This usually with a degree of scoffing disbelief)


“Are you still running?”

It would be fair to say that often I’ve used this blog to answer those questions – for myself, but also in terms of what it may say about the research and thinking in these areas in the hope readers will benefit from what I’ve written here as they seek answers for similar questions in their own lives.

Which brings me back to Running for Your Life. As in easing up on that.

Well, something happened recently that has finally put the question to rest. I will, as long as I am able, be running for my life. Now I have pretty clear evidence that that choice has saved mine.

I won’t go into all the why’s, the therefores, the subplots. It’s enough just to say this:

As regular readers of this blog know, I began running for therapeutic reasons. When I was 20 years old I had a near-death experience due to a blood-clotting horror. When I left hospital a shadow of my former self in 1976, I promised myself that I would get back to where I was before I’d been felled by a freak condition for someone as young as I was at the time.

I started by walking (referring to myself as “Gunsmoke” Chester, because my damaged leg moved like a wooden one), then jogging. Before the end of that year I was running every other day (daily and the leg-swell was too bothersome) and taking blood-thinners.

And so I have done. Faithfully running every other day for 41 years, through five decades. (For a long time I did stop the blood-thinners, but resumed taking them in 2001 (Subplot 1).

Fast forward to Saturday, March 18. I learned much to my considerable dismay that I’d been accidentally overdosing on my blood-thinners (Subplot 2). So much so that I was in real danger of internal bleeding (NOT good for the brain). In a Brooklyn emergency ward, doctors flocked to me. One kind doctor told me the health of my heart, my liver and kidney were extraordinary. Off the charts, he said. He didn’t say so, but he didn’t need to. The health of my organs saved my life.

And that can be traced back to running. I’m not an expert, but I firmly believe that.

So, yeah, here I go again. Running for Your Life.

Next: Running for Your Life: A Word About Knees

Running for Your Life: Lee’s Miserables

I can’t let this little gem go before moving on from the nonfiction book of March, “The Novel of the Century” by David Bellos (see earlier blogpost called “Miserables Thoughts”).

In 1862, when we didn’t have Google, Facebook, or even Instagram, we had a novel.

"Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo was such a hot item it was translated just about everywhere. And get this: The novel that has since been known as the touchstone for revolutionaries, rights for the poor, slavery is evil, women and men deserve equal standing before the law, was a runaway favorite of soldiers fighting for the right to continue to enslave people.

Check this out, a blogpost from the NY Times Opinion folks in 2013, or just eyeball this money quote: “The [Confederate] soldiers, little familiar with the Gallic pronunciation, called the book ‘Lee’s Miserables!’ Then another step was taken. It was no longer the book, but themselves whom they referred to by that name. The old veterans of the army henceforth laughed at their miseries, and dubbed themselves grimly, ‘Lee’s Miserables!’ ”
(Personal note: when it comes to creative news out of Richmond, consider that is where, more than 120 years later, I met my wife, M … And so it goes …)
Next: Running for Your Life: A Word About Knees

Running for Your Life: Barkskins, the Book

Annie Proulx puts it down. What Melville did with the thoroughly American harvest of work and souls, the whale.

She does trees. Gritty and surprising, unafraid to be slow-moving, piercing insight, breathtaking moments. Buy it, Barkskins, the Book. Or reserve it at your local library:

What does it take to cook something the size and breadth of a 19th century novel, a “Moby Dick,” a “Les Miserables,” when such ambitious, glorious wonders of the human imagination are seen by number-crunching publishers as viable to the 21st century creative economy as, say, the typewriter?

Bravo to Proulx for envisioning characters like Posey Brandon, the New Brunswick hellion wench, and the soft-edged Jinot, for believing there is as much necessary art to a meditation on Indian spiritual life on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, than in Hugo’s Paris.

Just try to find the elite street in this novel, the back alley of hipster New York, the naked reach for a niche market. Nope. Not here.

Of course, she is Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Shipping News,” the one who brought us the genre-bending short story “Brokeback Mountain,” better known as a movie. Still, she doesn’t skimp, or cut corners. She takes advantage of her star status and writes hell out of topic that others wouldn’t begin to think would be publishable. 

In the latest Paris Review, Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury tells us that in his country literature has always been safe in its marginality. That has become as much true in what I see as our increasingly authoritarian regime. Problem is, the more capitalistic the society, the less likely you’ll see literature – the kind the Khoury is talking about.

Then along comes Proulx and “Barkskins.” For folks who give a damn about literature – not just publishing – this is something to celebrate.

Next: Running for Your Life: Lee’s Miserables 

Running for Your Life: They’re OUR Zombies !

Pity the poor deep staters …  When it comes to civilian mind control, they thought their clever creation of the internet would be enough to benumb the citizenry to deeper depths of nonparticipatory democracy (yes, only 55 percent of voting-age citizens voted in 2016, promoting time-sucking entertainments that have the welcome effect of diminishing respect for such evils as government and serious news media.

Then along come the Russians. Who, during World War II, or so the CIA believed, were “engaged in a wide-ranging program of testing LSD. It genuinely thought that the Soviets might develop mind-control drugs and turn every American into an obedient, communist zombie. One CIA officer testified that he and his colleagues were ‘literally terrified’ at the prospect.” (Preceding is from a recent cover article by Time magazine,

Now the Russians are at it again. Turning the free internet against us. This time, as this week’s testimony by the FBI director (you know, the guy who more than any single government official is responsible for turning the tide against Hillary in that 2016 election that drew the weakest voter turnout in twenty years) makes clear, the deep staters won’t stop until the Russians get the hell out of our internet.

I take the subway every workday in New York City. I walk the streets, see the dulled eyes of folks in their internet addiction.

Hey, Russia, back off. They’re OUR zombies.

Next: Running for Your Life: Barkskins, the Book

Running for Your Life: Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow!

It’s a storm, not a curtain call.

This winter storm (March 14) is pretty blustery and late-season record-producing in some areas. (Primarily the coastal north of New York City, although the forecast had it that we were going to be suffering like never before, ie, beware the snowpocalyse !)

Storms are not personalities. This one is called Stella ! (Exclamation mark required, especially when it comes to my family life, because of Stella, my daughter K’s adorable pitbull.)

I do my best NOT to listen to the news when it comes to severe weather. In keeping with an earlier post of mine regarding public information and ratings, there are few events more representative of just how hyped the entertainment surrounding something as natural as weather conditions can be. And don’t kid yourself. Those news folks on broadcast, cable and local stations are all about entertainment. At least that’s certainly the case here in New York City …

Meantime, if you can, take a cue from the kids and get out in the Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow! and play in it while it lasts (without staring into your phone and watching the weather entertainment shows …)

Next: Running for Your Life: Barkskins, the Book