A Memo From Mr. Mamet

The Unit, a TV series which aired about fifteen years ago, while not my particular cup of tea, was widely recognized as one of the best written series on television. That was in no small part because playwright and screenwriter David Mamet was the creator of the show. A little while after the series was cancelled in its fourth year, a leaked memo from Mamet to the writing staff emerged. In it, Mamet gave some of the best and most succinct writing advice that can be given for writers of a screenplay. Here’s David Mamet’s memo to the writing staff of The Unit.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my reading of that memo, as broadcast this week on the Arts Express radio show, heard on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

“A Spectre is Haunting Europe…”

It’s May, and May brings up thoughts of Mayday and revolution and Karl Marx’s birthday, May 5,1818, so I thought it might be worthwhile to read from the surprisingly readable Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear the reading as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

“How I Became A Socialist”: Jack London




This month we celebrate the birthday of author Jack London, born January 12, 1876. London wrote the great nature novels Call of the Wild and White Fang, but he was also a committed socialist who wrote two volumes of essays about socialism called The War of the Classes and Revolution and other essays.

I performed a reading of London’s “How I Became A Socialist” for the Arts Express radio program. Click on the triangle above to hear it as broadcast today on WBAI 99.5 FM radio and Pacifica affiliates cross the country.


“I Would Want To Drink Their Blood”: Welcome To Hell World, Luke O’Neil




Welcome to Hell World: Dispatches From The American Dystopia, published by OR Books, is the name of a new collection of startling essays of current American life by Luke O’Neil. Rather than do a conventional review, I thought you might best get the flavor of the book and its distinctive voice by my reading of the book’s first essay entitled, “I Would Want To Drink Their Blood.”

Click on the triangle above to hear the reading as broadcast today on Arts Express on radio station WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.

Tonight’s Quiet and More: Constance Norgren

tonights quiet





Constance Norgren is a wonderful Brooklyn-based poet, teacher, and political activist. She is the author of the award-winning Tonight’s Quiet, which was selected as the winner of the Bright Hill Poetry Book Competition; she is also the author of several other excellent poetry compilations. Yesterday, radio station WBAI 99.5 FM, NYC, aired an interview I did with her in which she talks about the crafting of, and the necessity of, poetry. In addition, she reads some of her evocative poetry of domestic detail, everyday frailty, and the struggles and joys of modern life. Click on the gray triangle above to listen to this wise poet’s words.

A Questionnaire


I was nominated by Catie Robbins at Catie Robbins’ Writing to complete this Reading Questionnaire. Thanks, Catie! My Rupert Pupkin-like fantasies have finally come to fruition!

Do you have a certain place at home for reading? 

Nope. Everywhere and anywhere. I try to have an inside book (for reading at home), an outside book (for the subway and waiting in line), and a bathroom book. (Uhhh…self explanatory!)

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Anything. Lots of those advertising cards and jokers from the various decks of playing cards strewn around the house. Also electric bills. Note to Con Ed—how come you didn’t send me a bill this month? Oops—never mind: page 183 of The Goldfinch.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain number of pages?

Given my lousy bookmarking system (see above), I try to stop at a chapter or at least at the top of a page. But usually the bookmark falls out and I end up re-reading the same fifty pages over and over. As I’m in training for my coming dementia, I feel like it’s a good use of my time.

Do you eat or drink while reading? Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?  

Magazines, yes; books, no. Also, I’ve tried to have particular mood music play while writing, but so far that experiment’s been a disaster. It just distracts me.

One book at a time or several at once? 

See above. Usually lots going on at once. Then I buckle down and concentrate on one at a time.

Reading at home or everywhere?

When I can just leave my damn smartphone at home, I surprise myself by how much reading I can get done on the subway, or waiting for a license renewal at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Reading out loud or silently in your head? 

Mostly in my head, but when I’m reading my own stuff for revision, reading out loud is a must. It used to be, in the old days, that if you were seen talking to yourself in public, you were considered a crazy paranoid schizophrenic. Now people just think you’re talking on your Bluetooth.

Ha! The laugh’s on them. I’m a paranoid schizophrenic.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages? 

No, never. I’ll abandon a book first, if I feel as if I want to skip parts. Maybe I’m not ready for it, or it isn’t the time for it. I’ll give it another try some other time in my life. (Yeah, right. I’m looking at you, In Search of Lost Time.)

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new? 

“Books are your friends,” said my mother. We don’t break the spines of those we love. Except if you’re a professional wrestler and your name is The Crusher. Then it’s okay.

Do you write in your books? 

I underline and mark off passages in the margin so that a few decades later I can go back and ask, “What kind of idiot marked up this book?”

And now my nominations for this exciting chain letter-like project that will annoy and flatter the nominees into answering:


O at the Edges