Running for Your Life: Keeping Up the Blog

Why write?

A reasonable question. For someone like me, a lifelong newshound, it’s something I care dearly about. Back when I started in the newspaper business, readers began the day with the paper that was delivered to their home. And many writers, like me, found a future in finding, selling to editors, and then writing stories in those papers for you to read.

Now readers get their news from places sourced by Google and Facebook. Ad dollars always chase readers, that’s how the business works. Facebook and Google represent 72 percent of all digital ad revenue outside of China, according to a leading research analyst.

With readers migrating to the Web and mobile platforms for their stories, some writers like me have taken to blog-keeping as one way of reaching readers. In my case, this blog works as an idea forum, a place to make contact with old friends and new friends, and a spur on to, as Nike says, Just Do It. In my case that's Running, Reading and Writing.

Keeping up the spirit of the chase for new ideas and different ways to convey them, if you will. (Not in the vein of Keeping up With the Kardashians – there is a meaningful book, or an idea of merit in any of that? If so, please advise.)

So here goes. Delivering on forty years of writing experience, not in the pages of a newspaper, but in the digital space of a blog. For more reasons to write, please take a moment. Read a blog “back issue” below. My hope is, there will be something of value in those previous posts for you. A lesson, a wise thought. An occasional bon mot.

Next: Running for Your Life: And the Weak Suffer What They Must? By Yanis Varoufakis

Running for Your Life: Slow Mo

It is no surprise that the older you get the slower you become. Takes some getting used to. Muscles are stiffer. You don’t rise from sitting or prone positions with quite the speed and vigor that you did in days past. Clear the sixty-year-old threshold as I have, and folks only a few years older than me, smirk when I say I intend to keep running just like I always have. Just wait, Larry. Your day will come too. They don’t as much as say it outright, but the knowing look says it all: You’ll be Walking for Your Life, pal.

In my thirties, I have to admit I liked to see my reflection as I ran past plate glass windows on urban streets. I was running, baby. Long-legged with a kick of a pace. Eight-minute miles and under. Thirty minutes = four miles. Then off to work, scooting along. Imagine cartoon puffs of air behind my feet.

That was then. Now when I pass a plate-glass reflection, I see a scaled-down runner. Not yet a jogger, shuffling along. There is still pop in the step. Not a speedster – but a steady-ster.

I still carry that “Beat Yesterday” feeling into a run. But I’m not going to get there again. Not even close. But in slow mo. Maybe even back to marathoning. I haven’t given up yet. The writer and the runner combining in the long poem:  the Rime of the Ancient Marathoner.

Next: Running for Your Life: Keeping Up the Blog   

Running for Your Life: More Summer Reading

A word of warning: This is not your typical summer reading list. Truth is, this is more a bucket list of books that I’ve been meaning to read and summer, being the season of reading, they have inadvertently found their way to this blogpost of More Summer Reading. Don’t consider this to be a list of any particular order.

My Struggle, Vol. 4 by Karl Ove Knausgaard. I typed Karl “Over” at first. Which is true to a point, but I’m in through the previous three volumes, so given my tendency to stick with it, I’m bound to take this to the end. (Now, you’ve got a sense of what kind of reading list this is; you’ve had fair warning – run for your life, indeed!)

The Power Broker by Robert Caro. This guy, Robert Moses, was a tyrant and a real builder, in comparison to Donald Trump, Republican nominee for president, who is a tyrant and a fake builder. In any event, I’ve been fascinated by the life of Moses since I came to New York in 1988. (This book was published 14 years before that …)

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. A great literary friend of mine recently recommended this novel to me. Freakishly, I’ve been turned off McCann after the author wrote a feeble commentary in New York Magazine years ago, but happily that cloud has lifted.

The Untouchable by John Banville. This guy can write. And we just happen to have this paperback lying around the house.

Grendel by John Gardiner. For the point of view, as per the brilliant suggestion of my wife, M. Who isn’t somewhat tired of Knausgaard-like narrators?

That should take me to November or thereabouts … Am going to be trying VERY hard not to let the political drama crowd out these page-turning ones !

Next: Running for Your Life: Slow Mo

Running for Your Life: Core Values

I might have written about this before. But isn’t a blog a conversation? Tell me, how many times does your spouse (best friend) bring up the same subject? There are two response threads. One: Don’t bother me with that again. Second: Really? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about (subject here).

Which brings me to core values. It bears repeating. I firmly believe that I would not be looking forward to competing in a half-marathon in October (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, under the Verrazano Bridge! More likely I’d be making like Malcolm Lowry and be “Under the Volcano”) if I had not seriously taken up the strengthening and stretching exercises that my physical therapists thrust on me after my knee gave out last October.

That means core strength: lunges, squats, leg raises (both front and back, in order to engage butt muscles), sit ups. Run on Day One (typically from 30 minutes to an hour), do a hard 30 minutes of core strength exercises on Day Two.  Repeat.

Simple stuff, huh? Today, I ran for an hour before work. Tomorrow, I’ll write and stretch-strengthen. The proof is in how you feel. When I finish a run and begin the big cleanup before work, I’ll close my eyes and ask myself how old do you feel. Thirty? Twenty?

These core values have worked to keep a dream alive for me. I couldn’t recommend more highly the idea of such a regimen.

Next: Running for Your Life: More Summer Reading

Running for Your Life: The Summer Book

At a slim 170 pages, The Summer Book by Tove Jansson – beloved author of the Moomintroll comic strips and books – is the beach book of, well, every summer.

Jansson wrote The Summer Book in 1972, and it was translated from Swedish to English in 1974. (Yes, the same year that Richard M. Nixon resigned from office.)

Much simpler times. All the more reason to pick up and read the island stories of Sophia and her Grandma. What happens? A road is built, there are storms, a bird-killing cat, a subdued girl visitor who takes some getting used to …

A sample. (Imagine the road to be Trump’s wall …)

The Road

It was a bulldozer: an enormous, infernal, bright yellow machine that thundered and roared and floundered through the woods with clanging jaws. The men from the village scrambled on and around it like hysterical ants, trying to keep it headed in the right direction. “Jesus Christ!” Sophia shrieked without hearing what she said. She ran behind a rock with the milk can in one hand and watched the machine pluck up huge boulders that had lain in their moss for a thousand years, but now they just rose in the air and were tossed to one side, and there was a terrible cracking and splintering as pine trees gave way and were ripped from the ground with torn and broken roots. “Jesus, help! There go the woods!”

Next: Running for Your Life: Core Values