VIRAGO definition according to Merriam-Webster:

1:  loud, overbearing woman

2: a woman of great stature, strength and courage

Our WordBowl Word of the Day comes from the multi-talented multi-hyphenate Raquel Cion (click for details), herself no stranger to the prism of perception.


She continues to wear clothes befitting the larger woman she once was, a striking scarf draped about her neck to draw attention to her eyes, her best feature, according to family who always insisted she possessed a pretty face.

No one dared call her “pretty” now, despite a hard-won physical transformation. “Formidable” is the designation bandied in the professional journals attempting to inject rote corporate coverage with a few punchy adjectives.

Cocktail snacks at The Pierre Hotel, post-viewing of GIRL WITH PEARL EARRING at The Frick Museum

Cocktail snacks at The Pierre Hotel, post-viewing of GIRL WITH PEARL EARRING at The Frick Museum

As she climbed the ladder — male-dominant capitalism a linear trajectory, no allowances for ebbs and flows (of tides, of fortunes) — she straightened her cyclical self to fit the narrow confines of corporate culture. It did not require a keen eye to note no fat women held power positions. Fat, like emotions, shameful, domain of the weak.

Men, on the other hand, had plenty of corpulent corporate role models, their weight a less weighty issue.

She flicks through messages. Personal reflection at this juncture moot, a slippery slope towards self-pity, or outrage, neither productive. She has no time for journeys along well-worn paths bound for obvious destinations.

Although, hard to dismiss the unspoken rhetoric. Knowing looks passing between men, SHE’S MENSTRUAL. Casual gaze grazing the asses on a fresh crop of sales reps. Wary eyes, early career, as she arrived unescorted to corporate events, her male peers in jocular knots, their wives in conspiratorial cliques. Claimed by neither camp, she hovered between. Strategy or desperation: she spent her time chatting with the Chairman.

notes for "virago"

notes for “virago”

The company she is growing — not the one she assumed, the one she intends as her legacy — is mid-transformation, tension between what was and what will be is palpable. Good, decent folks jettisoned along the way, unfortunate cost of doing business, the business of the future, the future of now.

Innovation has a price. Her goal is to maintain a 50:50 ratio of haters to supporters. Same actions, vilified or deified. One man’s fantasy of a sexually confident woman, another man’s slut.

She sifts though design comps of the proposed corporate report, starts at a strange face, takes a beat before confirming it her own. Stylized shot, perhaps Photoshopped or not. She no longer recognizes herself.

The all-female created cocktail list a Grace

The all-female created cocktail list a Grace

A sigh slips from her lips, she catches it, inhales deep, exhales a powerful blast of air from her core. Power breathing. Gathers for the weekly meeting she dreads, “forecasting”, executive team clinging to their middle management assumptions, relying on sales projections and financial modeling as if future foretold.

She believes in acting on instinct — derided as “women’s intuition” by men suspect of talents they do not posses — instinct honed by market intelligence, experience. Risky, “ballsy” moves by her male contemporaries acknowledged as  “gut calls”. Visceral, the male monikers. Attributes ascribed to her more mysterious, as though magic rather than sweat and smarts must play a part in her meteoric rise.

No magic, just equal-opportunity, gender-neutral luck.

“Luck”, with it’s connotations of moral overtones of deservedness, worth, virtue. “Virtue”, another loaded word, cocked, aimed, women in the cross-hairs. 

“virago” hand written first at The Pierre Hotel (upper east side) post-viewing of Vermeer’s “Girl with Pearl Earring” at The Frick Collection, and re-written at Grace (murray hill), an Irish pub with a thoughtful cocktail list created by NYC’s top female bartender/mixologists. Caffeinated line editing took place once again at Housing Works Bookstore (soho).

Housingworks Bookstore, soho

Housingworks Bookstore, soho



B&WspermWord-of-the-Day “spermaceti” (waxy substance produced by the sperm wale, present in a round organ in the head where it focuses acoustic signals and aids in the control of buoyancy) submitted by the always-inspirational, razor-sharp, vegan culinary whiz  Cristina B. 

Clinging to summer with a glass of rose (Grape & Vine)

Clinging to summer with a glass of rose (Grape & Vine)

Shock of water against winter insulated skin, memories of childhood swimming pools rush to surface, distortion of time/space continuum, suspended, weightless, until the slap-push-splat-smack eases into pull-slice-crawl and he is reoriented to where he is, body in water, lane, lap pool, pricey healthclub, the kind he once derided (smoothie bar, childcare) but for which he is now grateful.

Dude splashes into the lane next to him, aggressive Butterfly. Show-off. Douchebag doesn’t know how to pace, all pyrotechnics, will burn out in a few explosive laps. He swam fly in college, flew. Now it’s all about the pacing.

And duration. He swims a mile twice a week, the words he dreads, a mantra in his head, syncopating with each stroke, theclientwantstogoinanotherdirection

In the entirety of his illustrious career, “the client” has never expressed any desire to veer from his directed direction. Only a matter of time. No commercial director has a perfect track record.

skylight, jade hotel, greenwich village

skylight, jade hotel, greenwich village

Lap swimming, the repetition is the killer, aquatic hamster wheel. He shouldn’t think about hamsters, his daughter took the death of the classroom pet very, very hard. Repetition, an exercise in mental stamina. His shoulder tweaks, center of gravity cantilevers, near collision with Show-off, swallow of chlorinated water, he will not choke.  He will best the douchebag.

Song snippet earworm, wormholes into his head. His signature, his unparalleled ability dredge up the exact musical moment to knit the piece together, nail the emotional resonance the client is so desperate to create.

Maestro of high-impact manufactured moments. Fifteen or thirty seconds of exquisitely produced emotion. He has a shelf full of light-refracting awards in homage to this talent. Somehow his agent is incapable of parlaying the glitter into a feature film deal. Somehow there is lingering doubt as to whether he has ability to sustain stories beyond the thirty-second mark, the stamina for 90 – 110 minutes of narrative bullshit.

Is that a whaling ship over the bar at Preserve24?

Is that a whaling ship over the bar at Preserve24?

They don’t realize his capacity for bullshit is endless.

He takes trips to the Other Coast for endless rounds of almost-deals, dinners with B-list celebrities at which he invariably drinks too much, which requires availing himself of as many complimentary First Class Bloody Mary’s as he can swill on the return flight, rending him surly and dehydrated, in no mood for the avalanche of text messages as plane hits tarmac. Snippy exchanges escalating into near nuclear with his too-knowing wife, who greets his return with resentment. As though he should do more, or less. As though he is in possession of some magical key to the universe, refuses to wield it out of spite.

But when he arrives, when the elevator opens and his girl bounds towards him, giggles and shouts daddy’s-home-daddy’s-home, it all falls away. He scoops her into his arms, holds her aloft, for a brief moment they are both buoyant.

 And that is it, what he wants to illuminate, capture for the new spot: the bright eyes of a girl he has yet to disappoint, unadulterated adoration.

A buoy for the drowning man to grasp.

Hoping for caffeinated mojo (mojo cafe)

Hoping for caffeinated mojo (mojo cafe)

“spermaceti” handwritten at Grape & Vine with what appeared to be the last glass of summer rose at the Jade Hotel (greenwich village, nyc) with a second pass in the company of an Aviation cocktail at Preserve24 (lower east side, nyc). Edited with a potent Americano at Mojo Coffee (west village, nyc). 

What’s YOUR WordBowl word? Looking forward to your suggestion! 


WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from media entreprenuer/Yankee fan/data analysis champion, the insatiably curious  K. Nanus


In a town populated by blonde Baptists, our family — a dark-haired Catholic multitude — attracted attention, five kids in a land of two (parents)-by-two (progeny), five kids raised yes-ma’am, yes-sir, five kids who dared not contradict our elders, a plethora of politeness.

We were recognizable, interchangeable, a lump sum. Even our camera-exhausted parents passed off photographs of me — as the eldest, my young life was well-documented — as those of my sister, and it was years before Babiest Brother realized what he thought of as his baby photos were mostly his oldest brother’s. We have no Polaroids or Sears Portraits chronicling our collective childhood.

Veritable brainstorm, while writing another WordBowl word

Veritable brainstorm, while writing another WordBowl

There were occasional advantages to the gaggle of us: Blackberry picking in the still-wild adjacent woods, we gathered enough berries for a pie with some left over to top our Cheerios. Christmas mornings — even in the financially hazardous years —we gasped at first glimpse of our den, piled with presents. Later, wading through discarded wrapping paper, we acknowledged our individual hauls as perhaps a bit sparse, but the aggregate was staggering.

Summers — before my bothers reached the collective ages for baseball to dominate the season — we ruled the pool at The Racquet Club, organized raucous games of Marco Polo, Touch-the-Drain, aquatic Red Rover.The only way for someone else to win was to get us fighting amongst ourselves, not too difficult a task given the constant jockeying and scrambling for personal attention within our family itself.

Individual flattery worked, too.

End-of-the-season PORCH SWING (bourbon, house sweet tea, mint) cocktail at the southern-tinged restaurant The Readhead

End-of-the-season PORCH SWING (bourbon, house sweet tea, mint) cocktail at The Readhead

During the inevitable summer storms we would mad-dash to the ramshackle clubhouse, forage for loose change between vinyl seat cushions to feed the vending machines for icy cans of Barq’s Famous Olde Tyme Root Beer and Orange Fanta. We commandeered packs of playing cards from the lifeguards, surly at the interruption of their tanning schedule and, stripped of their high perch and reflective shades, reduced to mere mortal babysitters. We played War and Pounce and our own made-up game we called “poker” to justify penny gambling. We waited out the rain, until our pruned fingers softened to normal, our saggy suites dried in stiff creases.

When the skies cleared, we went right back at it, slip-sliding off the diving board, shouting and squabbling, ganging up on those who opposed us. Courteous with the parents strolling by, racquets swinging, their tennis whites glowing against deep tans, calling out for us to mow their lawns, babysit, tutor, ask our father — the retired major leaguer — to consider private coaching for their baseball-besotted sons. We were responsible in ways smaller-familied children were not. We assumed nothing our due, we were grateful for small kindnesses, we were too young to chafe at largesse. We were humble before adults, our Church, our teachers.

To outsiders there was something special, extraordinary even, about so many children so alike and well-mannered and industrious. Our last name morphed into a modifier, an emphasis. The very repetitiveness of us made us exemplary.

Our collective name defined us even as we grew, and separated ourselves from the herd.


“veritable” handwritten at Southern-tinged restaurant The Redhead (east village, nyc) and edited over an iced pour-over coffee at Amor y Amargo (east village, nyc).

Want to enter the WordBowl Word Lotto? Fill out the form below! 


WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “duende” is considered by linguists one of the most difficult words to translate into other languages. English words associated with “duende” are: magic, genuine feeling, spirit, fiery, authenticity, magnetism, soul — along with something dark.

It was the subject of an infamous 1933 lecture by the poet & theatre director Frederico Garcia Lorca which you can read here (I am learning fascinating things from the words you send!). 

“duende” courtesy of Jody C. Salem: artist. champion. mother.


PawPaw was Algerine — not from exotic French Algeria but from Algiers, the oldest ward in New Orleans — born on the banks of the Mississippi, one of an interchangeable brood of brothers, cousins who played and fought along their bend of the river, dove after paddlewheel boats chugging up the Mississippi.

River Rats.

How my hardscrabble grandfather met, married my aristocratic grandmother a mystery, a romantic notion, for what other than wild passion could propel two people to cross the gaping chasm between their respective classes?

PawPaw & Me (photo of a photo)

PawPaw & Me (photo of a photo)

PawPaw — one-time Merchant Marine, Jack’s Brewery furnace stoker, for-cash bare-knuckle pugilist, father of two sons — survived a fire of murky origins. In recompense, he received complimentary passage courtesy of a global shipping line for the remainder of his life.

According to family legend, PawPaw strode into offices of company presidents — how he became acquainted with such men, again, a mystery ­— persuaded a loan of, say, $50,000, disappeared for a year or two, returned with double the amount in bundles of cash handed over with hearty thanks.

To me, PawPaw appeared as if conjured, visits heralded by middle-of-the-night calls from airports to announce his arrival, my parents scrambling, me waking with bleary anticipation of gifts. And then, there he was, larger than my father, larger than life, although I now know he was a slight man, compact, condensed, skin leathered from a life lived facing seas, sky.

PawPaw was happy to sleep on the sofa or the floor or the trundle bed in the tiny room I once shared with two brothers, which he declared luxurious in comparison to the cramped quarters he occupied during his recent voyage.

Spanish play on the G&T (tarragon, lemon) and Deviled Egg (friend oyster, caviar) at Carta

Spanish play on the G&T (tarragon, lemon) and Deviled Egg (fried oyster, caviar) at Carta

He arrived laden with spoils, a present day pirate: an elaborate embroidered Chinese jacket, a matador outfit when I was five, kimonos before that. I spent these young years defending my Halloween outfits to other kids, insisting my “costumes” were actually real.

PawPaw once took me to an ice cream parlor, smiled as I lapped up an obscene sundae, the fluted glass bowl nearly obscured my face — I was four, haughty in my refusal of a booster seat — asked if I would like more. I nodded, wild-eyed, as he shouted to our waiter to keep the ice cream treats coming until I told them I was done.

We engaged in detailed discussions regarding my dream dollhouse, which he planned to build, died during its construction.

There were hints of another PawPaw, whispers between my parents about the absentee father my father barely knew, at odds with the old man cackling with gleeful stories, fierce and generous in all the ways my father was not.

I learned to play chess with an ivory-and-ebony set he brought back from India, pick-picked my first short story on his immense manual Royal before I could type, embarked on a career requiring international travel.

And I contemplate the possibilities to live as he  — adventurer, entrepreneur, builder of things —lived, without fear and with great gusto, forever in the heart of the moment.

Third Rail Coffee, east village

Third Rail Coffee, east village

As I strive to write thematically, “duende”, was initially scribbled at Spanish tapas restaurant Cata (lower east side, nyc) and edited at Third Rail Coffee (east village, nyc) 

Would you like to participate in WordBowl? Send me a word using the handy form below. 


WordBowl Word of the Day “deracinate” — which I did not know essentially means “to uproot” until I Googled it — is courtesy of Cyndee Readdean. Filmmaker. Culture Creature. Twin. 

deracinateA few weeks after the birth of my baby brother — disappointing, as I specifically requested an OLDER brother, not this red-faced mewling thing taking up residence in my mother’s lap —I greeted the arrival of my road-weary father with suitcase in hand, assuming this Houston apartment was as temporary as the others, Phoenix for Spring Training, Tacoma in the off-season, San Francisco or San Mateo for games played in Candlestick Park, Evansville for dips down to Triple-A ball.

A travel savvy almost-five-year-old, I packed my own case, a miniature replica of my mother’s (hard-sided, top-stitched), with a few of my favorite outfits and matching socks (we dressed to the nines, my mother and I), a swimsuit (swimming pool hopes, often the case), paper and crayons (if we flew, stewardesses cooed and gave out coloring books, but I liked to be prepared for any travel situation), an assortment of books (of course) and my Giants jersey (adult-sized, doubling as security blanket). All set, ready to Hit the Road.

imgres-1We — Mom, Dad, me — may not have had a home, but our lives had a rhythm, bound to the tides of baseball fortunes, the ebbing minor leagues, the crests and swells of the majors. Shifts in destination and timing, the little dramas woven into the cycle of arrival, unpacking, practice, game, celebration or consolation, re-packing, waiting, departure, freeway or airport, motel or apartment, arrival.Vagabond days marked by gas station treats and airport gifts and occasional exotic meals cooked by one of the other ballplayer’s homesick wives.

Vesper Martini at Raoul's: a classic at a classic

Vesper Martini at Raoul’s: a classic at a classic

Ballparks, with their enormity of noise, swells of sound, announcements crackling, great waves of people, anticipatory, asserting statistical knowledge. Cries for beer, hotdogs, yes, even peanuts, better seats. The players loping onto the field, scattered shouts from the fans, weak clapping gaining strength as the crowds turn from their dissertations on the team’s chances for the season and acknowledge the actual talent hitting the field. Lazy balls arcing through the air, belying the precision with which they are thrown, even during warm up, the nonchalant preening of players on display but not yet at work, playing. Me, near the dugout, in uniform, an indulged team mascot.

Are not all fathers applauded by thousands upon arrival at their office?

wayside coffee bar, east village

wayside coffee bar, east village

Now, Houston, this apartment without a swimming pool, was to be our home for the next few years as my father — retiring at 27 from the only job he had ever known — attended pharmacy school.

I did not share my parents’ enthusiasm for kindergarten, the opportunity to play with kids my own age. I enjoyed my solo status, my books and my crayons, the company of grown-up players — Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Mansori Murakami, Willie Mays — and their wives. In Houston, all the adults looked alike, the kids had known each other since birth, and everyone spoke with a singular syrup-drenched accent.

Adrift in this sea of sameness, I began plotting my escape.

Today’s WordBowl Word of the Day was handwritten at the SoHo institution Raoul’s and edited at the latest jewel in the East Village artisanal coffee crown, Wayside. 

calla lily.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “calla lily” suggested by J. Vitkus. Writer. Producer. And as of last week, Mom.


The living room resembles a funeral parlor, but she is not dead, merely maimed, stranded in a city without friends or family. She knows no one willing to drop their life to come care for her, or perhaps she does but rebuffs the overtures, too accustomed to handling things on her own.

Floral arrangements  — oversized displays from friends, tasteful ones from the company for which she relocated — perched on every available surface. Allergen-prone, she senses a sneeze swelling her nostrils, cheeks, pressing her eyes, but she is on so many opiates — Valium, Flexeril, Oxycodone — it seems not worth the effort, the sneeze, too many body parts involved.

Floral & fauna, Nomad-style

Floral & fauna, Nomad-style

And an affront to the gift-givers.

Family members sent shiny packages brimming with foods to which she is allergic; they await re-gifting to her staff in thanks for their heroic overtime efforts in her recovery-enforced absence.

Earlier, one of her colleagues brought fresh food  — a practical, thoughtful thought — along with contracts and marketing plans to review in her daily windows of clarity. Perhaps a bite to eat is in order. After. After the current, comforting episode of Law & Order, crimes neatly resolved within the hour.

Unlike her present circumstances.

She shuffles to the refrigerator, contemplates a drumstick, settles for an asparagus stalk. Delicious, this lack of want, desire. This pillow-y pill-topia. She recognizes the danger lurking, the slippery slope-slide into addiction, how one might want to continue this feeling-less feeling. So pleasant, this suspended animation, free of her cornucopia of usual cravings.

She alone but not lonely. Much.

ICL-beaglen the dead zone between waxing of one pill and waning of the next, questions float to the surface, the full-throttle career orientation, the wisdom of relocating to a place devoid of any personal allegiances for a Dream Job. But then the next wave washes over, the tide carries her to the couch, lulls her into some facsimile of rest, television programs bleeding harmlessly into one another.

A friend calls in the throes of another breakup — for real this time — and she slips, she cracks. She cries. Afterwards, sleeps the listless sleep of the induced. Wakes emotion-embarrassed, texts she is fine, fine, fine. No need for action. The outburst, anomaly.

He arrives, having hopped the earliest train. He thrusts a vase forward, a single sinewy flower, a spray of leaves snaking through its narrow neck.

They go out for brunch. He holds her good arm as they cross the street, cracks awful jokes, leans in and cuts her food into bite-pieces without her having to ask. They return to her place, she pills up, they watch a movie both have seen. He hugs a hug to comfort her for the duration, departs.

She recovers, week by week, a new normal emerges. She tosses the dead flowers, the molding foliage. Returns to work.

His hand-blown vase remains, the single stem sprouts new leaves, having somehow taken root without soil, sustained by water and air.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “calla lily” handwritten at Nomad (Crowned “Best Hotel Bar” at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail) and The Beagle (Yes, again. When a place has good writing vibes and great people, you go with it).

WordBowl word suggestions welcome! Drop a word:


WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “popliteal” submitted by Norman B.

aka Flowbee-wan-Kenobi

Happiest of Happy Hours, handwriting at 151 Clinton

Happiest of Happy Hours, handwriting at 151 Rivington

Pop always says, if you aren’t signed by nineteen, you aren’t playing in the majors, son.

The physical ease of his early years performing instinctual feats of athleticism for clusters of scouts, scrambling from squat to throw without thought of his body. Now he catalogues, categorizes various parts — shoulder, wrist, knee, lower back — testing their reactions to minute adjustment. Analyzing in the hours between the time he wakes, clammy, and the morning alarm.

His nineteenth birthday is in three weeks. Less. Two weeks, six days.

photo credit: unkown

photo credit: unkown

He prays — at night, upon waking, before meals — for a minor league contract, modest signing bonus, something he can put into real estate, invest in his future. His future no longer shaping up to be televised games, championships, endorsement deals, All-Stars, autographing balls for wide-eyed boys shoved forward by their beaming fathers.

His preternatural — their word, bandied about so often he, they, all believed —early and high school promise giving way to an injury-riddled college career. Slow slide. His name, when — if— mentioned, is in voices shaded with regret.

No matter how many times he replays it — on screens, in his head — he has yet to pinpoint what he did, the moment before his knee popped. Which is crazy, when his shoulder tore he knew as he threw his angle was wrong, an off-kilter catch he failed to optimal-adjust in his determination to shut down the attempted steal. Won that battle, may have lost the war.



Pop always says, you gotta watch the injuries, folks don’t like to buy used cars.

Shoulder surgery a bitch to bounce back from, but they did it, he and his team of professional caregivers. Returned performing beyond expectations. Naysayers silenced. Preternatural whispered, no longer “bandied”, but he was willing to traffic in whispers, ride The Comeback Kid narrative.

A used-goods made-good shoulder one thing, a catcher with an unreliable wrist and a blown-out knee on top of an unexpected recovery — facing facts, unlike his parents — he is no longer scout bait.

He may not be a ball player. Not after this season.

Guggenheim Cafe

Guggenheim Cafe

Caught a ball bare-handed before he walked, his parents crowed, family legend. He has never not had a game, practice, tournament. Smelled of anything other than Ben Gay. Been anything other than a special talent.

He flexes his foot, winces at the tinge behind his knee. Touches the spot, the non-functioning hinge upon which all is hinged. Tests the patella-tracking trajectory. Checks the time, still hours before his orthopedist appointment.

What happens when you are no longer good at the thing at which you are (were) best? He has never been interested in much of anything besides baseball. Lincoln Logs, when he was young, he built fantastic forts. Maybe he can go into construction.

No one to confide in, he must project an aura of confidence. If he doubts, they all doubt. They do doubt, but still hold hope for their doubts to be dissuaded.

In the Business of Baseball, a staunch belief in miracles.

He checks the clock, again, recalculates. Two weeks, five days, twenty-two hours, thirty-six minutes.

This genesis of this post written during an impromptu Happy Hour visit to Ward III (tribeca), continued at what was STILL Happy Hour(s) at 151 Rivington (les), edited over an Americano at the Guggenheim Cafe (upper east) 

Do you have a favorite word? Fill in the info below to play WordBowl. I look forward to writing something inspired by your word….


WordBowl Word-of-the-Day courtesy of Raul A., red carpet couturist, face of FIT, KingofBingo collaborator


SLEEPING CAR II at Orient Express

SLEEPING CAR II at Orient Express

I am a recovering Catholic.

Our family grew up Super Catholic (“Real Catholic”, according to my parents). Catholic School, Scriptural Rosary, Luades and Vespers — morning and evening prayers, chanted in Latin —Meatless Fridays.

My parents disavowed Vatican II, blue jeans worn to Mass, the acoustic guitar strumming parish priest exhorting through song to “bloom where you are planted.” If there was no biblical verse to support Our Father’s dictums, he had scriptural passages at the ready from other texts, the Baltimore Catechism cannon.

The Catholic Church, apparently, was not Catholic enough for Our Father.

He spoke of Lourdes, of Fatima, of reputed miracles in far-flung, impoverished places, as if to reinforce the spiritual poverty of our over-capitalized nation. Numerous references to the Fall of Rome. The End of Days nigh.

images-1Which explains — somewhat— how I celebrated my fifteenth birthday on a flight from Toronto to Rome, drunk with a monk.

My monk — celebrating fifty years of monk-dom — chaperone for a Catholic Youth Tour, bound for two weeks in Italy. The trip a great financial sacrifice on my parent’s part, hoping to fill their teenage cheerleader daughter with the Holy Spirit, imparted by the Vatican itself.

The stewardess brought us a complimentary bottle of Blue Nun.

Our group pilgrimaged to Assisi, paid homage to the incorrupt body of St. Bernadette, a Carmelite Sleeping Beauty. Celebrated Mass in a basilica housing the Holy House of Loreto, the humble abode where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, which through divine intervention flew intact from Palestine to Rome. Met Brother Gino who reputedly suffered the Stigmata, his hands bound in rough cloth.

Stories, like those commemorated in my Map of the Land of Make Believe, complete with Happily Ever After, provided one hews to the Ten Commandments and the thousands of lesser moral commands.

Stories, institutionalized. Mythologized.

apoc2 Grade school history classes in Mississippi, we reviewed the Pilgrims’ Mayflower journey and tribulations born by the first colonists, touched upon the American Revolution, dove deep into The War of Northern Aggression for many months, rushed through World War1WorldWarII the final weeks of the academic year.

The grip of story, no matter the source, spoken with enough force. No longer merely the purview of the winners, present history is written by the shrill.

As real as Al Gore creating the Internet. Sarah Palin’s Facebook status screeds.

The personal tales we hear, tell. The married or otherwise encoupled who did — really, really — meet on MatchOKCupideHarmony. Or met cute in a bar. The guy or gal who chucked it all — high-powered career, trappings of success, debauched lifestyle — for a simpler life in a small town/remote ranch/quaint village, discovered a previously untapped aptitude, manifested their authentic self, found true love.

Origin Myths.

These stories, for the listener, for the teller, goals to aspire to, windmills to tilt towards, the Best of Times, the Worst of Times. These stories, they become legend and legion, they codify and solidify, become emblems, totems, symbols.

They define Us, Them, I, You, We.

This story was (hand)written at Orient Express (west village, nyc) and edited/uploaded at the Apple store (meatpacking district, nyc) because I left my charger at home, ran out of juice.

To play WordBowl, fill in the info below!


WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “auspices” from @RonHogan, literary evangelist & host of The Handsell

AuspicesphotoPrick-poke through workglove, she swallows the reflexive “shit”, flings the half-spooled wire bale forward, realizes no one is here to hear her howl.


She sighs at the smudgy sky, counts the days since she last spoke to someone — not the specific Someone Who Shall Not Be Named, any someone — returns her attention to the tangible act of twining wire fencing into bales nearly as large as she, mutant snails roaming her barren land.

Barren, when mere weeks ago farm interns and hired hands feverishly harvested. Hers, by abandonment until, if, when, she signs the papers. She shunts these wayward thoughs, wrangles the last of the wire, looks again to the sky as if to conjure a murder of crows.

images-3Unruly migration this year, a weak wet fall limping toward sullen soggy winter, she is, at last, in perfect harmony with the weather. As she and her love once were, harmonious. Once, as in recent, not Once Upon a Time, theirs no fairy tale, despite her wholehearted belief, once, this was to be her Happily Every After.

She trudges to the barn, pockets a stray turnip. She will abandon nothing sprung from this earth, unlike some people who blithely disregard these precious gifts, fail to appreciate this labored bounty, people who have lived a life so blessed as to assume abundance. People who have the financial luxury of flitting from one utopian ideal to another, pollinating with their presence, buzzing to the next.

People who convinced others of the wisdom of buying a farm in the middle of the country, a land far far away from the Santa Cruz produce collective where they first flirted across piles of cabbages.

"Fly By" from The Beagle Summer Cocktail Menu

“Fly By”, Summer Cocktail Menu, The Beagle

Sensible, buying a farm abut the family ranch of her partner’s childhood, built-in mentors willing to invest in them as they invested in the land, land from which they could travel during the fallow winter months, their claim stake watched over by benevolent eyes. The same eyes remain on her, now, awaiting her sensible decision to accept their reasonable cash offer.

Hard won, this land. The first months of dirt-meals-dirt-haul-hammer-dirt-shower-bed, conversation limited to the practical, jokes of becoming taciturn people of the land to break the silence. Miraculous moments: beds dug, plants planted, sheds propped, barn raised, produce to market. The second year a tornado whipped away the greenhouse and her tomatoes in one terrifying blast of air. But their sunflowers grew as tall and friendly as the familial community, birds returned each spring. Prosperous omens.

The farm, the ranch, indistinguishable from one another but for the erected barriers, as porous as they once were. They who birthed a dream, remodeled a ramshackle house, planted crops, shared a bed and meals and soap and underwear.

Boundary-less, until cleaved. She cannot feel the borders of herself, still.

Birds squawk overhead. They refuse to move on, despite what climatory pleasures await down South. They seem to prefer the known bitterness.

A sign for her to divine.

post handwritten at The Beagle, east village, nyc and Housingworks Bookstore Cafe, soho, nyc

Housingworks Cafe soho, nyc

Housingworks Cafe soho, nyc

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WordBowl Word-of-the-Day: “stump” courtesy of New Yorker-by-way-of-Baltimore,

fearless actor/daredevil surfer Edelen McWilliams 

She lives breathing recycled air: plane, hotel, convention center. Walking on, sleeping in, sitting on unnatural fibers, lurid patterned fabrics designed to mask high-volume human traffic, bodily stains, personal detritus. She swipes hand sanitizer over most of her exposed skin, still, her nostrils are raw, eyes red-rimmed, ears metaphorically cotton-stuffed, her head, too, she notices, in rare moments of response, as a flight taxis the runway, devices off at the demand of disgruntled flight attendants.

“Not Forever” the mantra at these moments, repeated to her husband, to their basset hound whose mournful expression predated her decision to bootstrap a startup.

Stump-photoShe is frequently introduced on daises as a “futurist”, a misnomer, as the future is here, now, as immediate and tangible as the devices in hand, the devices upon which all is explored, consumed, shared. Paradigm Shift. Fundamental disruption of the consumer product construct, the creator/manufacturer/producer to consumer/audience/buyer relationship. Hell, there are no buyers anymore. Subscription access, Freemium app models, the New Economy.

“Data (you fuckers)”, she wants to shout, but refrains. She wraps her simple message in a calculated mix of flattery and forewarning. “Actionable knowledge” she says, in venture capital boardrooms sipping designer coffee with two hands, not trusting a solo hand, a quivery hand betraying the disparity of her food-to-coffee-ratio. They get it, conceptually, these VCs, the questions lobbed back focus on market size, penetration, scale.

The market, the market. This Little Piggy went to market.

She needs a fucking major market player on board, just one, the first one, to establish consumer traction, define the market. The rest will follow. The significant players in this legacy space, they scrabble, scratch for second-mover status. The go gung-ho for silver, settle for bronze.

The seed money will last, cutting it close, it will last. Or she can dip into the last 401K from her single days, an account from a short-lived stint nearly forgotten.  Found money.

Living on the cusp, every hour a new idea, iteration. Not monetizing, but. Exhilarating. The business model is somewhere, close, she will pivot until she nails it. She may lose some of her people in the process.

A ponytailed Millennial offers a bottled water, eyes shining, mouth gushing, the future, the now future, running roughshod over all that came before.

Drunken Horse (despite name, a refined wine bar) chelsea, nyc

Drunken Horse (despite name, a refined wine bar) chelsea, nyc

She strides up to the stage, nimble, like her hanging-by-a-thread company, greeted with thunder, applause, for the briefest of moments she is Jobs-meets-Wozniack, Garage Google.

She will convince them all, this roomful of men in casual wear and determined women, and their bosses and the ultimate decision makers and the real money guys, because DATA will shape their future, shore up their investments, provide a path to profitability.

She has thousands of digital followers who believe. Conceptually.

She positions the microphone, tests a breath. The audience shifts, prepares to embrace, tweet, disseminate. She dials up the smile. She speaks.



She will figure out the money. In the future.

Post written with a “Picnic” cocktail at Brasalina hell’s kitchen, nyc

Post re-written with a crisp white at Drunken Horse (ha!) chelsea, nyc 

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