A Young Writer’s Diary Entries From Mid-May, 1984


Friday, May 11, 1984

9 PM. Last night I stayed up late watching the videotaped news (I’m taping Dallas now) and reading Paul Hawken’s The Next Economy.

As do other economists, Hawken believes that the world economy is irrevocably changing: the key year is 1973, the year I graduated from college and the year of the Arab oil boycott and the first huge OPEC price rises.

Right now, interest rates are rising as spending and borrowing move up. With a $190 billion federal deficit, we’re facing another recession in mid-’85 or early ’86.

Hawken believes that our monetary system may collapse as the debtor nations of the Third World may not be able to pay off their loans and other problems emerge.

But, distinguishing between economic problems and monetary ones, Hawken says all this dislocation is the result of moving from a mass economy to an information one.

Whatever happens, I’m optimistic.

In advising young people, Hawken scorns “proto-professional obsession” and tells them to study everything, to learn to think and write, and to be able to change. As production and distribution merge, we’ll do more with less (and use less energy).

An example in publishing might be Crad Kilodney’s low-overhead, low-energy, highly personal way of getting his books to the readers as he sells them by hand on the streets of Toronto. Or my own experiences in self-publishing Eating at Arby’s or Zephyr Press’s with I Brake for Delmore Schwartz and their poetry books.

Anyway, I do feel well-positioned for the 1990s, which I’ve always said was going to be “our decade.” I expect to be “discovered” in the ’90s, but even now, I’m heading in that direction. Eventually, people will see that I’m a valuable resource as a writer, teacher and humorist.

Florida’s the future: a fast-growing megastate leading in educational reform and maybe even publishing possibilities.

Sure, I could join in the long lines I saw all over Manhattan today and try to win the biggest lottery jackpot ever – $18.5 million – but since the odds are just one in three million that I’d win, I didn’t think standing in line for two hours to buy a ticket was worth it.

This morning I was dreaming that Broward Community College Provost McFarlane was about to hire my entire family for important jobs when the phone rang, jarring me awake.

It was ABC Radio, wanting to know if they could do an interview with me later about the story in today’s Times.

Of course, I said, and bounding out of the house without even putting my lenses in, I bought the paper on Broadway and discovered the “Koch for President?” story in the New York Day By Day column.

Over a week ago, the Times’s Mickey Carroll – whose daughter was my student at the School of Visual Arts – had called me, but I’d given up hope of the story ever appearing.

I was described as “an English teacher at Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale” and they mentioned Jonathan’s position as the Draft Koch Committee’s Chief Wacko.

“Flattering,” said Mayor Koch – but he’s still supporting Mondale.

Well! The old magic is still there. Every May, I come to New York and get my name in the Times.

As Pete Cherches said to me when I returned his call, they don’t seem to remember me from time to time. Or maybe they do and don’t care.

I’ve now been mentioned in three different New York Times news articles – and that doesn’t count the Book Review column items or the I Brake review. Not bad for a country shitkicker from Davie, huh?

The ABC Radio interview, heard locally on WABC, was pretty funny if you ask me – but there was no other response to the article although some people must have seen it.

When I went to Weight Watchers’ new office to meet Alice at 5:30 PM, she’d already heard about it from Richard.

(I need to break here to go out for Häagen-Dazs on Broadway.)

This afternoon, I did my laundry, ached from Thursday’s workout (shoulders, mostly), and got some shopping and xeroxing done.

At 4 PM, Carolyn Wessel called, offering me the job for the summer at Centenary College; I said I’d let her know on Monday.

The drawbacks include the low pay and the distance. I’d have to rent a car and a place to stay for the six weeks, and after that, I’d have little salary left. The job is probably easy, and it would look good on my résumé, but it’s a big pain for so little money.

After all that hassle, I’d probably end up with only $800 or so; if I instead went to Millay in July, I’d have my meals and rent paid, and I’d have all that free time besides.

And will I be eager to teach in the fall if I’ve taught every day for six and a half weeks in the summer? So I’ll probably say no.

I took the M104 bus down Broadway to 42nd and Lex, getting there just at 5:30 PM. It was rush hour, and it looked like Grand Central Station there – oh yeah, it was Grand Central Station.

Alice’s new office is spiffy, and she looked every inch the editor-in-chief. Over Sichuan dinner down the block, she told me about the Cleveland writing conference she and Peter taught at.

As usual, she had a good time and loved the praise: they told her she had better workshops than Nancy Evans, the How to Get Happily Published co-author.

We discussed writing and publishing; Alice tends to see things from a New York big publisher point of view.

After finishing dinner, we went back to the Village, where her elevator, working again after a month of being out of service, took us up to her half-completely-remodeled apartment, and I said some nice things about how it was coming along.

Alice went across the street for her nightly dose of Tofutti (tofu ice cream) and I headed to B. Dalton to pick up the new Publishers Weekly.

On the M5 bus ride up Sixth Avenue, Broadway, and Riverside Drive, I thought about a book idea: How I Became Famous.

Take all the news articles from “Literary Imposter at Large,” my 1978 Weird Sex Lives of Jewish-American Novelists scam from the Post, to the latest article, giving commentary on each.

It would be easy to write and might have some commercial value. I’ll query some agents.

The weather has turned warm (by New York standards, anyway: it’s 73°) and sunny, and for me, life has never been more exciting.

As I said earlier, I’m positioning myself for real success in the 1990s – but right now I’m having more fun than a barrel of salamanders. If I die tonight, I’ll die happy.

Saturday, May 12, 1984

8:30 PM. Juliana is coming over in half an hour with the videotape of American Gigolo. I met her downstairs earlier and we thought it would be fun to rent a movie.

It’s been a rainy day with a few afternoon hours of sunshine. Again, I had insomnia and consequently stayed in bed until noon.

Loads of mail arrived today. First there were two postcards from Paris and Lausanne from Teresa, who says that she and Amira are having the time of their lives. Good for them.

I paid the deposit on Teresa’s Fire Island house, as well as the outstanding balance so that LILCO will provide them with electric service.

Patrick wrote that the summer session enrollment at Broward Community College is way down. Betty told him I’d written her, but she doesn’t know what’s what for the fall.

Patrick himself may go into the public schools. His summer computer ed grad course is a snap for him, he says.

My Florida International University transcript arrived with a batch of mail Mom sent from Davie; naturally, I got an A in PILOT for Educators. The programming class wasn’t difficult, but I’m still proud of my accomplishment.

There was also this letter from “H. Goering” of Miami: “Dear Mr. Grayson: You are truly an asshole of the first magnitude.” I figure it came from the Meese article in the Miami News because my P.O. box was there. Well, he’s entitled to his opinion. All celebrities get hate mail; this wasn’t very threatening, so it really doesn’t bother me.

I got letters from Paul and Miriam that were forwarded, and a lot of bills, mostly very small, that needed to be paid.

My bank statement helped me balance my checkbook, and a bookstore in Ventura County, California, ordered a copy of Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog, sending me a check for $7.80 as per the Buckley-Little Catalog.

Alice sent, as she promised, Workman’s Everybody for President, a book I could have done much better with than their authors have.

After I met Josh at Printed Matter, we walked up West Broadway, a Saturday Soho stroll, stopping at bookstores to see how Grinning Idiot sold or didn’t sell.

Then we hung out on a bench at Washington Square for an hour or so, shooting the breeze: it’s what they now call “quality time” as Josh and I renew our friendship. (Last night he dreamed I was wearing a wedding gown.)

At the East Village stores, the magazine sold well, so he collected some money and placed some more copies there. He met Claudia, his law school student friend, and they walked me to the subway; afterwards they were going to see a movie.

When I called Grandma, she sounded even more depressed than usual, because Aunt Claire is in the hospital again and won’t be coming up for her grandson’s bar mitzvah.

Mom phoned and said everything is fine in Florida.

I’m tired, so I hope Juliana leaves early, right after Richard Gere goes to jail.

Sunday, May 13, 1984

7 PM. I feel anxious this evening, and it’s totally neurotic because my anxiety stems from the fear that things have been going too well.

I’ve been so carefree these past couple of weeks, I can’t believe I’m not going to have to pay for it somehow: I envision myself keeling over with some swift, terrible illness. Clearly, I feel that I don’t deserve to be happy – that is what any psychologist worth her sodium would say.

Or is it also that I’m wise enough to know that happiness doesn’t last and will be balanced out by its opposite? I feel as though I’m on top of the world right now, and it’s scary, because I can only fall. Totally neurotic, no?

Last night, Juliana and I watched American Gigolo, which she found unbearably romantic and which I saw as pretty and vapid.

Although she gives the impression of being a Manhattan-sophisticated, no-nonsense lawyer, in some ways Juliana is like a naïve schoolgirl, with unrealistic expectations of life and other people.

Since I was again unable to sleep until 5 AM, I read and read and finally dozed off.

Today I didn’t do much. I went down to the General Post Office by Penn Station and got stamps and envelopes for all my mail, wandered around Columbus Avenue, exercised with my water-weights.

Justin phoned with double good news: first, a theater group on Roosevelt Island is definitely going to do Boundaries, his first play; and second, his directors’ workshop will do another of his plays this Wednesday.

He got three actor friends to do the leads but thought I might like to read the stage directions. Of course, I agreed and will be at Eddie Murphy Productions tomorrow evening for rehearsals.

I’m a bit nervous, but it will be fun – or at least a learning experience, like everything else I’ve done in New York.

These weeks at Teresa’s are really like a fellowship: I’ve had lots of time to read and think and see life from a broader perspective than I usually do while teaching at BCC.

I do feel I’m moving in a positive direction even though I can’t chart the destination on any map or globe.

Monday, May 14, 1984

11 PM. I came home an hour ago to find that Paulette, the maid, had been here in the afternoon and everything was clean and in its proper place. So here I am, lying in a freshly-made bed.

Last night I slept wonderfully and had out-of-the-world dreams which I can’t remember but whose richness I still feel.

After calling Sherry Poole at Centenary College and turning down the summer teaching job – she didn’t sound at all surprised – I called the New Jersey Election Division and discovered they do have a provision for write-in candidates in the June 5 Presidential primary.

That settled, I made up a press release, got a list of Jersey media, and photocopied a press kit which I sent to them. As long as I’ve got the time, why not try?

Taking the IRT to Rector Street, I met Pete Cherches by McAnn’s on Trinity Place. He has been working full-time at Wood, Day and Wood for only a week now.

Pete’s proofreading partner at the law firm, Judy Lopatin, joined us later. Judy, who got Pete the job, is a fiction writer who’s been in Mississippi Review and Benzene.

Some of Pete’s computer graphics, done on an Apple II at NYU, apparently in a similar manner to the PILOT graphics, will be on a public access cable TV show this week.

He said Mark Leyner’s wedding, at the Hoboken Elks Club, was a low-key affair and said the Mark told him we’d all get together soon.

Pete got a fantastic $150 round-trip Philadelphia-to-San Francisco fare on American Airlines in July and will be spending a couple of weeks there. He also mentioned that he’d be in Florida for Thanksgiving.

After Judy and Pete had to get back to work – though they say there’s not much for them to do (Pete studies algebra in preparation for possible computer courses) – I headed home, where I found a letter from Tallahassee.

Because I had not filed a claim since September, the Unemployment people wanted me to go to my nearest office immediately, so I headed up to Club 90 (the nickname for the local unemployment office on West 90th) and plunked my filled-out claim in the interstate box.

Naturally, I waited over an hour until one of the idiot bureaucrats told me to come back the next day. However, I’d been prepared for that, and I’d been reading The Next Economy and didn’t get upset.

Since it was time to get to the rehearsal, I took the bus crosstown and then another down Second Avenue.

At the Eddie Murphy Productions offices, Justin introduced me to Joe Hunt, Joyce Beirn, and Royce Rich, the three actor friends from a class he took with Alice Something (the standby for Anne Meara in Harvey Feinstein’s play Spookhouse, which opened and closed on Broadway last week).

Royce, 33, plays lots of character parts and has real exposure by being in Mazursky’s new film, Moscow on the Hudson. (His one line – he plays a New York cop – even made the TV commercial.)

Joyce, about 40, also does lots of commercials, though it’s an awkward time for her to get work: she’s now too old to play “cereal moms” but not yet old enough to play the “mother of the bride.”

The reading took about three hours, with some schmoozing, and I think I did okay in reading the stage directions and a man who has about five lines.

Royce, who read the play cold, proved what an excellent actor he is by giving life to Justin’s character Angelo, a diner owner.

Veronica played Marie, the teacher who comes into his diner and his life, and Joe played the local scuzzball.

The play is quite well-made – seamless, very conventional, and middlebrow – and it’s typical of Justin’s work in that the characters are people who have trouble reaching out to others; they’re extremely sensitive and cautious and scared of getting hurt.

Afterwards, Justin took me out for Japanese food, and I told him what I thought: basically, that the play is as sweet and sentimental as he is. To me, it’s a little like Neil Simon but with fewer wisecracks.

Still, I have no doubt that someday one of Justin’s plays will be commercially successful.

Tuesday, May 15, 1984

5 PM. I’m freezing. It’s about 50° and so dark, it looks as if it’s going to snow.

This is extraordinarily chilly weather for mid-May, and for this Floridian, it’s extremely uncomfortable. It may get down to the 30°s tonight, and to me, it feels like late November.

Last night Ronna invited me to a dinner she was giving for her sister and her fiancé. I told her I had a prior commitment with Stacy but said that if she wanted, I’d drop by later if that was possible.

Ronna said that was fine. She told me enjoyed seeing Jordan, who didn’t have as good a time in Israel as he had on his last visit there.

I didn’t get to sleep until 2 AM but nevertheless woke up at 7:30 AM and was at the Unemployment office by 9 AM.

Ninety minutes later, I got seen by a typical New York civil servant, a middle-aged black woman who of course had no idea what was to be done with my interstate claim against Florida.

Eventually, we figured out something to mail off to Tallahassee, but I suspect it will just confuse her equally befuddled counterparts there.

When I got back to the apartment, Susan called, and I went off to meet on West End Avenue.

She had just had a class at Hunter that conflicted with her Poly Tech final, so someone there was proctoring for her, and so we had time for a long walk and ended up at a Columbus Avenue café, where we had a good talk about writing and our careers.

The omelets we had made us both queasy as we bussed downtown to 44th Street to Mark Mannucci’s office.

His office assistant returned to let us in and showed Susan today’s Post which featured a story on Bella and highlighted it with a photo; both Susan’s and Mark’s names appeared prominently in the article. Great publicity!

Susan took about fifty announcement cards about the film. Sally DeMay’s appearance on Midday yesterday piqued interest in the project, and she may go on Letterman before the week’s out.

At Times Square, I kissed Susan congratulations before she left for Brooklyn, bought Sunday’s Miami Herald at the out-of-town newsstand, and came on home.

My stomach is still rocky. But I’ve got to meet Stacy, even though I’d prefer to just get under about fifteen blankets right now.

I hope the evening ends early, as I need to get some rest. Strange words for a man on vacation. But that’s how vacations are. . .


Midnight. Brrr. (This sounds like a seventh grader’s diary). But I just got in from walking ten blocks, and it’s almost wintry out; we may have a freeze later.

I realized today that while I miss Teresa, I’ll always be grateful for her giving me this chance to live an ideal life by myself in Manhattan.

Another thing I realize is that I do have a life here in New York and probably always will. It’s as much a part of my life as Florida is, and even though I spent only a tenth of my year in New York, it’s quality time spent with good friends.

When I got to 77 Bleecker Street, I was surprised at the opulence of the new building; there was even a haughty doorman who had to announce me.

Stacy was waiting in the hall by her apartment and kissed me hello. The apartment was stunning: high ceilings, a huge window, classy furnishings and a loft bed upstairs (even I was an inch too tall to stand up there).

Stacy and I chatted until Jeanne came home, looking very tired. Jeanne is very intelligent-looking and seems kindly even though she wasn’t very talkative.

But she had loads of numbers to crunch for a pro bono project at her old job with the kids at the juvenile detention center, and I couldn’t help feeling that Jeanne gives so much of herself that she didn’t have time for socializing. So I couldn’t blame her even if I felt a bit uncomfortable. I would have liked to get know her.

Stacy took me to a neat little restaurant around the corner on Broadway, where I had a great fettuccini with fennel main dish and listened as Stacy told me about her job at the Transit Authority.

David Gunn, the new director, brought in his own people from Philadelphia, and one got close to Stacy and offered her that $69,000 position, running the budget division of the whole maintenance operation.

After several sleepless nights, she turned down the offer, but she’s sure to get a big raise from her present $23,000 salary (that’s pathetic for her position) when all the dust settles from the transition.

Right now, she’s doing lots of work on the car renovation program and she’s starting to get the staff she needs.

But Stacy looks pretty and sounds happy. Obviously she’s crazy about Jeanne, and she loves the neighborhood, which is going upscale faster than you can say David’s Cookies. Once really scuzzy, the area is now almost Upper East Side-looking.

Still, Stacy said, sometimes she misses the beach and the house in Rockaway where she stayed with her father and his wife.

But Stacy and Jeanne seem to have an ideal life and I’m happy for them.

After some tea and talk, I went uptown and decided it was, at 9 PM, early enough to stop at Ronna’s. I arrived just as dessert was being served.

I guess I was sort of Ronna’s date, which made me feel terrific.

Ronna and Lori, with her boyfriend John, were giving a dinner for Ronna’s sister and Robert to celebrate their engagement.

It was great to see Sue again. Robert, a husky biochemist from Michigan, seems well-suited to her; his common sense and low-key genial manner complement Sue’s wit and flighty sparkle.

We had Häagen-Dazs and Robert’s homemade brownies, and I enjoyed being there, even if Ronna was called to the phone for half an hour by a friend from Pennsylvania.

Sue is starting tomorrow as a supervisor at the Chelsea VD clinic, and she’s moved in with Robert up to Columbia, which is also going upscale (as is almost all of Manhattan).

During the conversation, Ronna touched my arm the way lovers unconsciously do, and that made me feel really good.

I hate to keep saying this, but I’m extraordinarily happy.

Thursday, May 17, 1984

9 PM. The past two days have been chilly, with nighttime lows in the 30’s, but I’ve had fun.

On Wednesday I got up late and stayed in bed until noon, watching the local talk shows. Then I went to the Mid-Manhattan Library, where I read last week’s Miami Herald.

After buying Sunday’s Fort Lauderdale paper at Hotaling’s, I returned home to work out with my light barbells for ninety minutes.

Morry Alter of WCBS/Channel 2 called me about the press release I’d sent him.

When he was based in Miami on WPLG/Channel 10, he called me twice – once about the Sylvia Ginsberg Fan Club and then about Eating at Arby’s – and nothing came of either query.

So I don’t really expect much to come of this, either, but the upshot was that if I campaigned by leafleting and shaking hands in Jersey, he’d cover me.

Although Morry said he’d get back to me, so far he hasn’t, keeping his record of not following up pretty clean.

After a light snack, I went down to West 38th Street for the reading at Chuck Morgan’s Directors/Playwrights Workshop.

Justin arrived wearing a suit and looking a bit nervous. Ari was with him, and we got to chat: he’s been doing work for the same theater group in Reading that Justin will direct for, and he has his own freelance arranging and composing work.

When setting up before the workshop, I was surprised that experienced actors like Royce and Veronica admitted they were a little nervous. So was I, but no more so than they.

The play reading went well and took about 2½ hours. Then came the discussion with the workshop participants.

Chuck Morgan runs it like most college creative writing workshops, taking comments, probing a bit, and saving his own comments for last.

By and large, I think the criticism was fair. Justin’s play has charming characters and he has an ear for dialogue as well as a good sense of humor, but the play needed more to keep it cooking.

Several people criticized the characters’ reticence about sexual matters, and obviously that restraint stems from Justin’s own problems.

Like Marie, the divorced school teacher who hadn’t had sex in three years, Justin is even more afraid and reticent about intimacy than even I.

At times, it seemed clear to me that Justin has trouble writing about heterosexual relations, marriage and divorce because he’d never experienced any of those things.

I wonder why he peoples his plays with characters who are so unlike him and seem like people he’d never even met.

Justin is commercial, however, and this play, like Same Time, Next Year or Any Wednesday would appeal to old ladies from the suburbs – but it really seems behind the times.

Of course, most legitimate theater is antediluvian, although, now that I think of it, last year Torch Song Trilogy won the Tony for best play.

I went out to a late supper at Marvin’s, a Theater District eatery, with Justin, Ari, and Emily, a sweet but vapid old lady actress friend of Justin’s who lives in Manhattan Plaza. I enjoyed joking around with them for an hour.

It was almost midnight when we got out, so I took a cab home; I liked going on the West Side Highway and looking out at the Jersey night lights across the Hudson.

Up at 9 AM today, I went out for the Times and USA Today and read them in bed after breakfast.

At the Gotham Book Mart, I found the new American Book Review – again, no Grayson review, but there was an interesting section, Writers vs. Academia, with some good articles that took much-needed swipes at the Associated Writing Programs and its ilk.

As a student, I found the MFA program at Brooklyn helpful.  But I think most MFA faculty members don’t grow as artists, so I’ll be perfectly happy if I never teach in a graduate writing program.

Most of what we call academic creative writing is correct but derivative, banal, and lacking in life. I don’t want to read AWP poems or stories, so why should I expect them to like me?

I sometimes feel I’m neither fish nor fowl, not “serious” enough to be “literary” but not “accessible” enough to be “commercial.” Maybe that means I’m doing okay.

In the light of all this, my not writing these days – especially my not writing stories about writing – is probably a healthy thing.

I know I’m heading somewhere, and I’m always thinking about my writing. Eventually I’ll put it all together.

But I’m beyond some people who need to be published, as I once did, for the sake of getting ahead. Right now, I’ve got, on (résumé) paper, enough publication credits and teaching experience to last an AWPer a lifetime. Who needs any more credentials? What I want to do is learn and grow.

Today MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art, reopened, and I spent eight glorious hours there with my old friends from the old permanent collection and all the new paintings and sculpture they have room to exhibit now.

It was too much to take in at once, an art glut, but it was, for me, an infusion of much-needed medicine.

Arp, de Chirico, Henri Rousseau, Rodin’s Balzac, Miró, Mondrian, Seurat, Reinhardt, Pollock, Kline, Klee, etc. – and yes, I’m kind of proud I can still catch the styles of so many artists (for which I can thank my Contemporary Art teachers in high school and college).

The current exhibition, a survey of painting and sculpture by recent artists, was very good, though I have the feeling, knowing how things work, that it was probably a very conservative show.

By and large, the Europeans were younger than the Americans, more of whom were born in the 1930s rather than the 1950s.

The reverse seemed true of the Europeans, so I wonder if the young Americans are really the best or just the best-connected.

Leaving the museum at 4:45 PM, I accepted a free ticket to a screening at CBS and lined up in the lobby of Black Rock to be a guinea pig in market research for possible replacement series for the fall ’84 programs.

We were put in a screening room, in chairs with hand-held, wired buttons – green in the right hand, red in the left.

With our thumbs, we pressed red/left when we didn’t like what we saw on the screen and green/right when we liked something.

My left thumb got a good workout during the show, an inane hour of a series called The Sheriff and the Astronaut.

I found the lead actors unlikable and obnoxious, the plot banal, the dialogue poor, with gratuitous car crashes, fights and sex.

The only time I used my right thumb to like something was when the veteran character actor John Randolph, who is always worth watching, even in dreck like this, appeared onscreen.

Even by network TV standards, the show was so bad, I figured it was some kind of “control”: a deliberately awful program to check on the reliability of the survey technique.

Feeling a cold coming on, I hurried home.

Friday, May 18, 1984

6 PM. Today was a low-key day. Although I tried to get to sleep early, I was unable to and so I didn’t get up till nearly 11 AM.

I don’t (yet) have a cold, but I felt tired all day. It got a little warmer, but it’s one of those grey New York days.

At the 92nd Street Y, I worked out and nearly killed myself when a Universal leg press machine doubled back into my shins.

I was scraped badly and in excruciating pain, but since others were around, I was too embarrassed to show it. I did finish my workout but now have band-aids on both legs; there’ll probably be monumental bruises on them by tomorrow.

Teresa’s sister called to inquire if any of the Fire Island people had sent Teresa money for their summer shares. When I said no, Connie said she’d deposit something into the account because the rent for the beach house is due on Monday.

Teresa has called her from Italy, and last week she phoned her parents from their ancestral home in Sicily. Apparently, everything is wonderful, but Connie feels that Teresa will return early, along with Amira on May 28.

That’s fine with me even if I have to give up my privacy; I want to spend time with Teresa, as life is always interesting when she’s around.

Her lost paycheck arrived today, and I deposited it. My own cash supply is running out, but I just filled out my first by-mail claim card for unemployment, and if I’m lucky, Tallahassee will be sending me my first benefit check before the month is over.

Rick writes from D.C. that George is coming down for the American Booksellers Association convention next weekend.

Rick says he got a great interview with Crad, and one with Scott is coming up, but the Gargoyle issue with their interviews will have to wait till next spring after the fiction anthology comes out. The magazine took 18 stories out of 4500 submissions for Fiction 84.

Apparently, publishers now won’t print fiction about real living people: Michael Martone spoke at Johns Hopkins on all the problems he had with his book Alive and Dead in Indiana and said that books like Shoeless Joe or The Public Burning couldn’t be done now because of the possibility of lawsuits.

Rick agrees that Jack Saunders is “a raver and a loony” and reports that Michael Blumenthal has won the Juniper Prize – no surprise, because he’s been in line for it, ass-kissing the academic poetasters the way he has for years.

I called Grandma this morning, and when she answered, I knew she was low from the sound of her voice. She had severe angina pains this morning and put on a nitroglycerin patch and she was lying down. Is that what it’s like to get old?

Of course, Andy Kaufman, an amazingly innovative comedian, just died at 35 of lung cancer – and he didn’t smoke.

Also, Irwin Shaw died at 71 in Switzerland – a great writer, even if he did make money. (That’s irony, in case no one can tell.)

Three weeks in New York and I’m a Manhattanite. Yes, it will be good to have Teresa home in ten days. These magical weeks are going fast.