Posts Tagged ‘Heller’

Pick a Book, Any Book; Now Be It

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Recent reading ...

Recent reading …

Remember books? You know, lots and lots of words on paper strung together in some sort of sensible, occasionally poetic, way to tell a story. No pop-up ads. Not textbooks. Book books.

I’ve been acutely aware of synchronicity in my life of late and books have played a part in it. Let me admit straight up here and now that my relationship with books had grown cool in recent years. Not a complete break, but sporadic at best. Technology lured me away.

Recently, though, life hit me head-on, leaving me mostly immobile and homebound. No TV. After a while, even I-phones and laptops lose their charm. I picked up a book: “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” by Tom Wolfe. Here’s some synchronicity: The only reason I had this book in my possession is that I had just finished reading Wolfe’s “Hooking Up,” which was one of several I picked up at the library’s used book store because my son, Max, said he was looking for something to read. “Hooking Up’’ reminded me that I liked Wolfe back when he was writing for the New York Herald Tribune. I also liked his “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

So I went back to the library and found “Electric, etc.” and “A Man in Full,” which I just finished and whose main character is an older gent recovering from knee surgery, like me.

I’m good on Wolfe for a while. Now, I’m reading “Contact,” by Carl Sagan, which I also found at the library store. I started thinking about my most recent choices in books and was thinking about asking friends for recommendations for some more recent books they found worthwhile.

Then, synchronistically, a Facebook friend in Seattle, Jim Bridges. posted an item informing me it was National Book Week. There were rules about finding a sentence from the book closest to you and posting it without telling the title of the book. So I did. Something from “Contact.” I also realized that Jim had just reminded me that, not too long ago, Facebook was regarded as social media, a place where people shared such information with friends as what they had for dinner and what book they were reading.

As far as I know, no one responded to my Book Week post. They probably thought it had something to do with, yes, politics. That’s just not right. Not long ago, when I started writing a blog for the Internet, friends routinely participated in discussions of whatever the topic was. Now, I feel a sense of frustration and fatigue on Facebook, which has become highly politically charged.

And so, I’m writing about books. Pay attention. I’m still looking for something to read after “Contact,” which I’m enjoying. As I said, my most recent reading — the past 18 months or so — has consisted of nothing new. Actually, nothing from this century:

“Slaughterhouse Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut; “A Prairie Home Companion,’” by Garrison Keillor; “1984,” by George Orwell (I had a suspicion.); “Hooking Up,” “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” and “A Man in Full,” by Tom Wolfe; and the current, “Awareness,” by Anthony De Mello and “Contact,” by Carl Sagan. Vonnegut and Orwell I read on Kindle, the rest on paper. I’m partial to paper, but not fanatical.

I would really like to know what you’re reading or have read recently that you would recommend. I plan to share the information in future columns, the way we used to do a while back. I’m also going to post it on Facebook and elsewhere at least often enough for friends to notice and have an opportunity to reply. You know, socially.

I have one other book-related item to share. My partner and I recently watched “Fahrenheit 453,” the 1966 movie version of Ray Bradbury’s futuristic tale of a society that burns books. (Again, I had a suspicion.) In the film, Julie Christie and other members of the secret resistance to the ban on books live together in a secluded community. Each member picks a favorite book and memorizes it so that the words will never be forgotten. The title of the book becomes their name. “Wuthering Heights,” meet “David Copperfield,” for example. They spend their days reciting themselves to each other and pass the books on to younger members before passing on. A living library.

So, friends, if you were a book, who would you be? I’m going with “Catch-22” for now. Joseph Heller. Please join me. Let’s be social again, at least until the impeachment.

Fame: From ‘Joe’ Heller to ‘Tony Pro’

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Tony Pro

Tony Pro

By Bob Gaydos

A couple of weeks ago, in a display of pure ego, I wrote about the famous people I had encountered over the years. Kind of a check list on where the journey has taken me so far. They tell me it’s one of the charming things about blogs — they don’t always have to be about serious stuff going on in the world. Sometimes they can be personal and can let readers know a little about the blogger. And of course, in this social networking world we now inhabit, willingly or not, it allows the blogees to respond with personal information of their own.

So, at the end of my personal who’s who of my life, I asked readers to send in their own close encounters. A few brave souls actually replied and so I will give them their due.

  • Elmer Brunsman (who reads and contributes to all those serious blogs) wrote: “You put down a challenge at the conclusion which you will regret. How about these for openers, just openers: Interviewed Harvey Milk shortly before he was notoriously assassinated in San Francisco (if you haven’t seen the Sean Penn portrayal, rent it. It is one of the few best political movies ranking above “All the King’s Men” and you name it); Daniel Ellsberg, Dick Gregory, Daniel (at a couple of seminars) and Phillip Berrigan (on my radio program), Little Richard, Dr. Meyer Friedman (Type A Behavior and Your Heart), numerous writers including Kay Boyle, Leonard Bishop (with whom I studied writing), Francis Ford Coppola, Ralph Nader (that one was only in front of an elevator), Jane Fonda, lesser figures such as Diane Feinstein before the Senate, before mayor, while on board of city supervisors … I think I’ll stop now.

Thanks, Elmer, I get your point. Thanks for stopping (and somewhere in the back of my brain I have a fuzzy recollection of meeting the Berrigans as well). Ellsberg? Cool.

  • Jeff Page, fellow Zest blogger, who worked for the Times Herald-Record before joining The Record in Hackensack, N.J., wrote: Here are some of the people I’ve spoken with as a reporter: Cesar Chavez (in a visit to Paterson); Barbara Deming; Allen Ginsberg; Christopher Reeve (when he rough-landed his small plane at Teterboro); Estelle Parsons (at her country house near Mohonk); Matt McHugh; the incomparable Maurice Hinchey; Pat Robertson; Tony Provenzano (“Keep your nose clean, kid,” he advised.); John Hall, the congressman; John Hall, the Jets place kicker; William V. Musto, Hudson County pol (went to prison); John Armellino; Hudson County pol (went to prison); Tom Whelan (Hudson County pol (went to prison); Dennis Flaherty, Hudson County pol (went to prison; Bella Abzug; Howard Samuels; Mary Ann Krupsak; Arnold Toynbee; Louis Ginsberg; and Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Jeff’s Hudson County (N.J.) reminiscences stirred a vague recollection in me of a meeting with Neal Gallagher, Hudson County pol (went to prison). Since Jeff and I escaped, many more Hudson pols have followed the same career path. In fact, I challenge anyone to match my home county for political corruption. And Jeff, I’ll give you Krupsak even though she was a lieutenant governor, because I like Allen Ginsberg.

  • Anita Page, Jeff’s wife and a writer in her on own right, offered: Bob, I once interviewed Joe Heller who gave me this advice. “Every writer should have a bed in his office for frequent naps.”

Wow, Joe huh? It’s still Mr. Heller to me. And he sure took one, long nap. But he was right about the bed. My computer/work area is in my bedroom and I frequently catch 22 winks. Get it?

  • Finally, checking in from Ulster County, former TH-R reporter Jo Galante Cicale humbly wrote: I often thought I didn’t do so badly for a kid from the lower East Side. OK, so Tony Pro was my uncle and Carmine Galante, too. But that hadn’t anything to do with reporting. (Mario) Cuomo was a family friend – yeah, I’m boasting now, but you started it. John Hall a neighbor and friend; ditto with Hinchey. But, the most memorable from reporting days was Al Sharpton who, during the Brawley days, was more street gangsta with dirt under his nails, lots of gold and body odor.

Yo, Jo, no disrespect intended. Drop names all you want. You win.

Bob can be reached at