Running for Your Life: Subway Notes

The thing I love about the subway is the rawness of the people energy. What is the promise of an early love of mass transit. Not always realized.

But on days such as this (Dec. 1), my body shot through with adrenaline after a 4-plus mile run in the brilliant sunshine of Prospect Park – marking the classic style of the mature Japanese maple, red and orange leaves, rubies in the shimmering light along the ridge run adjacent to Prospect Park Southwest, beyond Sixteenth Street, a beauty for the residents of Windsor Terrace to enjoy on an everyday morning stroll – I am gasping with the memory of it all, yet another treasure brought to mind and put into my subway journal, a gentle reminder to seek out in these next few weeks  the leaves still held fast in these dreamscape trees.

Next: Running for Your Life:  A Man for All Seasons

Running for Your Life: Holiday Reading List

This blog is not exactly the place to go for listicles, but when it comes to my love of reading (the space being devoted to the three “Rs” – running, reading and ’riting), I’m making an exception.  Safe to say, these titles aren’t your garden variety best-seller variety. Just my faves at the moment, and who knows, maybe there is something here that will light up your soul while you light up your Christmas tree and front porch …

1/ David Constantine, “The Life-Writer,” a novel. Unforgettable voices, gorgeously shaped sentences.

2/ David Constantine, “In Another Country,” stories. Ditto, ditto.

3/ Colum McCann, “Thirteen Ways of Looking,” a novel, stories. Strangely entrancing.

4/ David Szalay, “All That Man Is,” A “page” of music. Wondrously elegiac.

5/ Jarett Kobek, “I Hate the Internet,” a novel  (I’m guessing). Manic brilliance of sloppiness. War cry for our times.

6/ Larry McMurtry, “Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen,” nonfiction. On the simple joys of reading, esp. for those who grew up in a literary desert. A Larry who loves books in the most selfless, inviting way.

7/ Alice Munro. Everything.

8/ Mary Morris, “The Jazz Palace,” a novel. Music IS the page. (Disclaimer: She is my genius wife.)

9/ Valerie Martin, “The Ghost of the Mary Celeste,” a novel. Love historical literary fiction with a twist? This is the best of the best.

10/ Steve O’Connor, “Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings,” a novel. Fever dream of imaginative wonder. Think you know Jefferson? Think again …

Next: Running for Your Life: Subway Notes

Running for Your Life: Irony Watch – Beyond Coincidence

I’m excited to introduce a new feature of the Running for Your Life blog, Irony Watch – Beyond Coincidence.

Today’s item, observed midday 11-29-16 during a single-stop ride aboard the Manhattan-bound R Train, Union Street to Atlantic/Pacific:

Display ad for a meditation consumer service company (I guess …) called Headspace shows a mean-looking millennial woman in buff workout clothes, crooked arm cradling a mini-barbell, amid the following words:


Next: Running for Your Life: Holiday Reading List

Running for Your Life: Leaf It to Me

On Nov. 22, two days before US Thanksgiving, the leaves in the ginkgo trees glow like fire. In the Brooklyn morning, when M and I walk T, our hound dog, the blinding sun of pre-winter morning sparks the flames. Non-ginkgo leaves are down, or speckled in and out of shadow. Like they’ve been gutted in the ginkgo inferno.

It will not always be like this. Ginkgo trees afire, not a single leaf having fluttered to the ground, will soon face the equivalent of the fire hose. A blustery wind that in a hour – perhaps even less – will sweep into our heroes and send them all – in bunches, or ones, twos, threes, into a whirligig dance, pinwheeling on different courses, not one like the other. Literally impossible for the human eye to track their darting and swimming and flatlining journey.

That is why I count it as luck, an omen of delight, when I’m running in Prospect Park and the magical leaves of one of these trees is finally aloft, and somehow miraculously lands and is caught in my outstretched hand.

So far, I’ve caught one leaf like that this season. A wee yellow elm (or poplar? or beech?). But the ginkgos? They are still aflame. But soon, soon, in the next big wind, I’ll be out there, bracing for the tree-gift catch of my life.

Next: Running for Your Life: Holiday Reading List

Running for Your Life: Trump’s Unwitting Genius

Or who do the women who voted for Donald Trump look to for moral authority?

This longtime blog of running tips and whimsical reflections by a 40-year runner has been interrupted by a continuing political emergency: the imminent Trump presidency.

It begins – thanks to the insight of I HATE THE INTERNET author Jarett Kobek – with Ayn Rand (1905-1982), the libertarian philosopher and author of THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED.

The unwitting part is that Trump is a self-proclaimed non-reader (which is better than the line of thinking that he does read, with bedside books headlined by a title of Hitler speeches, ie, and hardly an Ayn Rand acolyte. Still, his infamous “locker room” talk that has outraged feminists, mothers and fathers, and pretty much everybody I know who regard it as license to commit unwanted sexual advances, if not outright assault, is pure Rand.

Consider this gem, from Kobek’s aforementioned amazing novel-screed: 

‘… (Supreme Court Justice Clarence) Thomas was a devotee of Ayn Rand, and each year, his incoming crop of legal clerks came to his house, where he forced them to watch the film adaptation of Rand’s “The Fountainhead.”

The frisson of this discussion derived from the juxtaposition of Thomas’s history as a person known for practicing the art of sexual harassment and the presence, in the mandatory film and the novel, of a rape scene.

Here’s Ayn Rand in a letter dated June 5, 1946, describing the rape scene in a letter to Waldo Coleman. “But the fact is that Roark did not actually rape Dominique: she had asked for it, and he knew that she wanted it.” ’

Therein lies the moral authority, folks. Who are the female standard bearers of this sick anti-women’s rights twist on human affairs?

Let’s start with Laura Ingraham (a finalist for Trump press secretary, the press tells us) and Ann Coulter, whose far-right ideas suddenly win the imprimatur of the White House.

And many more to come, but these two are the line leaders.

Next: Running for Your Life: Leaf It to Me