Category Archives: General

Do You Believe In Love?

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“Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind.”

Before we bid adieu for our summer break from this blog, here’s a back-to-back classic post-pairing, as Madonna follows on the fashionably-attired heels of Tom Ford. This is a preview of the next Madonna Timeline, one of the last entries prior to my summer sabbatical, and it’s a doozy featuring one of the greatest Madonna songs of all-time: ‘Express Yourself.’

It’s impossible, at this stage of the timeline, and more importantly at this stage of Madonna’s storied life, to fully encapsulate all the nuances and memories involved in such an epic song. But I did my best, and if I’m hiding behind unexplained vague references, it’s only because I’m suddenly feeling quite shy. I’m already enjoying the fact that this curtain is almost down for the end of Act One. But one more Madonna Timeline before I go. We all deserve that.

Here’s a look at the song through the ages:

So many versions, so many dance routines, so many Madonnas. We shed our past selves like snakes shed skin, but while they get to leave their papery shell behind, we carry ours with us – as ghosts, demons, angels and protectors. ‘Express Yourself’ is one such entity. The second single from the ‘Like A Prayer‘ album, it’s the funkiest one of the bunch, dwarfed only by that indelible title track. (Only Madonna could trump her own work, making ‘Express Yourself’ into second-best, baby.) The rest of the album was pop confession perfection: ‘Til Death Do Us Part‘, ‘Promise to Try‘, ‘Cherish‘, ‘Dear Jessie‘, ‘Oh Father‘, ‘Keep It Together‘, ‘Pray for Spanish Eyes‘ and even the wretched ‘Act of Contrition.’ Even among those jewels, ‘Express Yourself was a stand-out.

Tonight, the Madonna Timeline returns one last time before we break – baby, ready or not!

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Calling Out the City of Amsterdam (With Updates)

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{SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST UPDATES}

During one of the last downpours we had on Friday, the basement of my parents’ home in Amsterdam flooded with raw sewage, something it has done regularly for a few years now. This time was the worst, as it rose over a foot and destroyed everything they had stored there. Their next-door neighbors had a more damaging experience – it came through the toilets and poured out, ruining much more than an unfinished basement.

This has been a city pipe problem that no one in Amsterdam seems to care enough to correct, but I’m guessing if a lawyer is involved the health hazards of raw sewage to a household of four (including two young children) and a city negligent in correcting a problem that has been reported countless times over the years (not to mention the destruction of an entire floor of stored items and the carpeting that leads upstairs) would be a slam-dunk of a lawsuit. (At the very least, it would make for one of those local news stories that you watch because you’re thrilled you’re not the ones involved.)

For now, I’m imploring any City of Amsterdam officials to do something. Thus far, my parents have been given the run-around, with one person saying it’s the responsibility of someone else and then that person saying it’s the responsibility of the first. The end result is nothing but raw sewage running through the neighborhood pipes with no corrective action.

UPDATES: Still awaiting any response from my tweets to Senator George Amedore, Jr. and Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara, and a FaceBook tag of Amsterdam’s Mayor Michael Villa

JULY 16, 2017: Another back-up resulted in more toilet paper and raw sewage coming up through the basement sink. Some of it still has not yet drained.

JULY 18, 2017: Michael Villa, the Mayor of Amsterdam, responded to my FaceBook post with the following: “Lets first be fair. I have met with all those that are facing this unfortunate situation and we have called in McDonald Engineering to investigate this issue. To say that this is a “new” problem is unfair and untrue. I have read all the reports and this dates back to 2006. I wish I could tell you this is an easy fix but that is unrealistic since this has gone on for 2 previous administrations. To place blame at this point is unfair. There is a solution that all residents were told years ago and that was to purchase and have a back flow preventer installed. The home that sits below the three houses impacted by this has one and he has reported no issues. We are working to get this problem resolved to the best of our ability but to expect it to be corrected immediately is simply not possible. My door is always open if you would like further information.”

First of all, no one ever said this was a “new” problem – if anything, it is blatantly obvious that the problem has persisted for years and no one has done anything. (Words like “regularly” and “countless times” are the antithesis of “new”.) My parents don’t care about politics or administrations when it comes to raw sewage entering their home, so to bring that up makes no sense and has no bearing on the situation. After speaking with my Mom, I discovered that the cost of the back flow preventer would be about $3000 to $4000, but if the problem has to do with faulty pipelines then why should a retired couple have to pay that much for something that should have been solved many years ago? My Mom also informed me that the engineer who originally told her about the back flow preventer said that it was a law that they had to have one installed. She did some research into that, and it appears that she was lied to. She’s not sure if it was an effort for the city to not have to deal with the pipe issue by making the residents pay for a temporary solution to a bigger problem, but it certainly sounds as though that’s plausible. Personally, I’m not getting bogged down in blame and politics: the bottom line is that right now there is raw sewage still sitting in my parents’ basement, the current Mayor of Amsterdam is Michael Villa, and we are waiting to see how long it takes for this to be rectified.

JULY 19, 2017: The Mayor stopped by my parents’ home after our FaceBook exchange. It was an admirable demonstration, and my Mom had a decent conversation with him. Later, Angelo Santabarbara stopped by and took a tour of their basement, offering his engineering experience on what might be done to rectify the matter. My family is appreciative of both appearances, and looks forward to seeing a solution on the horizon. I’m glad to see that something is being done, and I’ll keep this post updated as to the progress that results. Thanks to both gentlemen for taking the time to set this into motion. We shall see…

AUGUST 1, 2017: As reported by the local news crews, Assemblymember Santabarbara and Mayor Villa have made the pipe improvements a priority for the city. They interviewed my parents at their home and it looks like work has begun on rectifying the issues that have plagued the city for years, with a $900,00 influx of money to Amsterdam to make it happen. I’m very impressed, and my parents are very grateful, that movement has finally begun. Looking forward to a more permanent solution, and I thank Mayor Villa and Assemblymember Santabarbara for their personal consideration and work in this instance. (They have yet to hear anything from George Amedore, Jr.) Perhaps by the time this blog returns to its fall schedule there will be a happy ending, and I’ll be able to write a positive story on crappy situation.

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Life Should Be An Event… And It Shall Be Again

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It always strikes me as amazing, whenever I attend a Broadway show, that these talented performers are doing their shows eight times a week – that they’ve done it countless times before and may do it for countless times thereafter. I feel lucky to catch a favorite when they happen to be gracing the stage, or revisiting a once-in-a-lifetime performance when lightning strikes for a second time.

Philosophically, that’s how I think of this blog – as a daily ritual and performance for a small audience of dedicated favorites – and I’ve managed to do it consistently for well over a decade. If you’ve been away from it for a few days you can catch up with the more extensive Blog page, or search the archives for a specific date and navigate through ‘Older posts’ when the option appears. But if you’re a regular, you know that I’m here at least twice a day with some sort of nonsense or fluff or, when I’ve been extra-prolific, something worthwhile and soul-searching.

That sort of schedule takes its toll, however, and as mentioned it’s almost time for a break. A small one for now; a bigger one down the line. Rather than take the air out of the sails, it will hopefully reinvigorate our juices – both in my creative output and perhaps in your thirst for visiting.

Lately it feels like things have been getting watered down, or, even worse, repetitious. In the past, I’d create one or two projects a year. I’d have a few months of exciting creation – organizing inspiration and ideas into a workable theme, focusing on refining and editing passages, and putting it all together in the solitude and secrecy of my own space. This blog has made all of that public, as I work things out in diary-like fashion. It has become an endless project of its own, evolving and morphing through the years, but never offering a break or moment of rest.

I want to get back to the idea of an event, a release that happens on a certain date and lasts for a specific duration. Something that can be encapsulated for the future, and that has a beginning a middle and an end. Something finite and sure. A traditional project. Like the sculptural rendering of Albany’s iconic Nipper, in various painted forms throughout the city. They won’t last forever, and like the Dutch clogs that stormed the city a couple of years ago, their magic is only fleeting – but here I am talking about shoes and dogs in a way I can only wish this blog is discussed at some point in the future.

I also want to get away from a daily schedule. My Virgo nature enjoys a good timeline and the comfort of a regular program, but the most enchanting parts of life tend to be surprises – I want to capture that unexpected magic, to show up unexpectedly and disappear in similar fashion. A tendency of the trickster should prevail for anything as fleeting and whimsical as a blog.

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Our Last Summer Recap

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Relax! We have the whole summer ahead of us! But this blog won’t be back next Monday, and so we won’t have another recap until late September. For now, let’s look back on our final full week here – it’s still too soon for the back-to-school specials to begin.

Julian Edelman got naked again and no one complained.

Things got a little prickly here.

We need beauty, we need art

Sleeping sperm.

Summer sabbatical.

Ben Affleck nude in the shower.

Boston brings beauty.

Before the rain.

Dinner during the rain.

Oh heavenly garden.

The hunt begins.

The Ultimate Hunk Collection.

A different kind of rear view.

The last Hunks of the summer included Chris Pine and Sean Sarantos.

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Objects in the Rearview Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

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TRAVELING DOWN THIS ROAD
WATCHING THE SIGNS AS I GO
I THINK I’LL FOLLOW THE SUN…

For the first two years of this website, there was no blog page. This space existed solely as a stagnant repository of writing and photographs, to which I would occasionally add new content, but not with any regularity. It wasn’t until the third year or so that I started the daily blog. From there, it quickly grew from a single short post every day, to a three-post-a-day schedule, with projects and photographs and videos.

Every two years or so I’d revamp the website entirely – new theme, new pages, new everything. And in keeping with my dislike for looking back and embracing an easy nostalgia, I’d discard all the posts that came before. I liked starting over again every couple of years. It reinvigorated me. It gave me life. And it made it impossible to live in the past.

While it might have been nice to look back at the Archives of 2005 to see what insanity was coursing through my mind at the time, for the most part it’s been good to purge and move forward. A clean cleaving of all that came before. Now it’s time to get going again… just for a bit.

ISN’T EVERYONE JUST TRAVELING DOWN THEIR OWN ROAD
WATCHING THE SIGNS AS THEY GO?
I THINK I’LL FOLLOW MY HEART
IT’S A VERY GOOD PLACE TO START.

July 20, 2017 will be our final day of new blog posts for the summer; I shall return with fresh stuff on September 22, 2017 – the first day of fall. (Like the objects in the rearview mirror, it’s closer than it appears.) There will also be a new schedule – the blog will be dark on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (my version of a mid-week weekend). I’m hoping this will make for a tighter and more compelling collection of posts. There’s nothing worse than meaningless filler (unless it’s frivolous eye-candy).

I can’t wait to see what adventures await us. Even if it’s nothing more than reading by the pool, I’m certain they will energize and revitalize any complacency among us. Until we meet again in September, there are a few more entries that will hopefully see you through the summer. We each have a journey to make – I hope to see you at the end of it.

TRAVELING DOWN MY OWN ROAD
WATCHING THE SIGNS AS I GO
TRAVELING DOWN MY OWN ROAD
AND I’M WATCHING THE SIGNS AS THEY GO

TRAVELING, TRAVELING
WATCHING THE SIGNS AS I GO…

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Summer Sabbatical

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If all goes according to tentatively-scheduled plan, my summer sabbatical blog break will begin about a week from today, and run for two months. While some of you have been on summer vacation for a few weeks now, I’m only just about to begin. Next year, it may be longer. Or shorter. We’ll see how this one goes. For all I know, I may return for a day and close the book on this website in one fell swoop. I’ve done less surprising things time and time again, and one of the greatest thrills I get out of life is the ability to surprise people even this late in my career. Send in the clowns.

How shall I occupy my time away from this place? I’ll tell you later. We will have so much to discuss come September. For now, I invite you to float. Just float. On a pink flamingo. On the wings of desire. On a screeching hawk. On a stick of cotton candy. It’s summer. Let’s enjoy it. Let’s make the most of it. It will end all too quickly.

 

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Sleeping Sperm

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I never knew that sperm whales snuck out a few power naps to recharge and re-energize, but I’m tickled to learn such. Check out some video and photos here. This is the sort of natural scene that thrills me, and when this blog returns in the fall, I may post more of our underwater frontier.

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Second-to-Last Recap For A While

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As we near the summer sabbatical I’m about to embark upon, there’s only one more Monday morning recap on the way after this, so enjoy it! I’m super-excited for this break, but we’ve got a couple of weeks left before this page goes silent, so let me get some small talk out of the way.

America celebrated its independence, with some shirtless help from Chris Evans.

A simple summer dish.

Still waiting to hear back from Amsterdam officials on why my parents house, and other homes on their street, got flooded with sewage. Until we do, Google will direct anyone looking up George Amedore, Jr.Angelo Santabarbara, and Mayor Michael Villa will find this shitty entry.

Not everything… not yet.

Friendship, always.

A very naked Gus Kenworthy.

Big news, and a big break.

A hawk cries.

Classic clematis.

Speak easy.

Shower shadows.

Hunks of the Day included Denevin MirandaCristian RomeroRenaud LavillenieNathan Hopkinson, and Javier Báez.

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Shower Obscura

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Frost on the glass, water droplets on the frost. The moving image obscured in shadows of shadows, and pooling in water and light. The tension of what might be revealed grows in hydroponic fashion, with rivulets of water racing over skin cells, pulsing with heat and life like the very origin of the universe.

A hide-and-seek game, in the light and the dark, the day and the night, the wet and the dry, the desert and the ocean, played out on the landscape of the body – a shell of the soul. We are given our blood and bones for such a short time.

One can hide in their nakedness – it’s the best hiding place of all.

No one sees that though. Clever how it works.

There are revelations yet to come.

There is always more to see.

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Speak Easy

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In the corner of the Monkey Bar, we sat and ordered cocktails.

An old evening in old New York.

The room was practically empty.

The two other tables would be gone before we finished.

‘What’s become of the world?’

All around us, the monkeys smiled and played, but not a single one uttered a word.

They’d seen it all before.

The blush of youth.

The dance to adulthood.

The walk home.

The wee small hours of the morning.

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Pretty Clem

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This classic clematis was planted soon after we moved into our home, which makes it a decade and a half old. It’s trained, rather loosely, to climb the lamp-post in the front yard, but I’m afraid I tend to let it flop and run rather than tying it up so it climbs higher. Still, it performs, even when it gets mown down (as it did a few times before a spreading sedum was put at its base to shade the roots and offer a buffer to the wrath of Andy’s mower). This year it’s especially floriferous, so I may coddle it a bit for next year’s show. Preparation for a comeback always starts early.

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Screecher Creature

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The hawks have been causing quite the commotion in the neighborhood this year, with a ready food source thanks to the proliferation of chipmunks, squirrels and other woodland creatures in the vicinity. They are bold, noble, somewhat terrifying creatures, and their cries cut through the sunniest summer day. (Sometimes in the winter too.)

Though they make a ruckus, I’m coming to find comfort in their presence. They remind me that there is more wild in the world than order. The untamed. The unbound. The ones that fly free, high away from human contact. There is wisdom in that given what we as humans have been known to do.

And woe to the bunnies that let down their guard against such majesty.

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The Mortality of ALANILAGAN.com

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All good things must come to an end.

This website has been in existence since January of 2003. It’s fourteen years old. That’s a lifetime in blog years, where the average age of a personal blog is said to be a whopping 100 days. When it turns fifteen next January, it will be time to consider its long-term fate. Before that, however, I’d like to to try out a couple of possible avenues before we move into the autumn and winter of this website’s journey.

Lately, and you’ve probably noticed as well, it feels like this place has been on auto-pilot. A morning post of (hopefully) some substance, a noonish post of filler and frivolity, and an evening post of the Hunk of the Day or other shirtless/naked/nude flotsam. Of late, I’ve been too busy (and yes, some days and nights, too lazy) to make it to all three posts, opting instead for two, and both rather lame at that.

I’ve also been pre-programming posts for when I go on vacation or leave town for the weekend, which takes away the timely import of the thing, and connecting in an approximately real-time manner is what makes me feel part of something.

But it’s tiring, and it’s a lot of work, and the last few months have revealed that I value my life off the internet far more than anything that goes on here. A few minutes basking in the glow of summer sun, or hanging out with friends, or simply watching my niece and nephew splash in the pool – are worth more than the last ten years of writing these posts.

I’m not ending this blog anytime in the immediate future, but I intend to take a break – a summer sabbatical – as suggested by my webmaster and friend Skip, whose wisdom far exceeds mine in such matters. He brought the idea up as we were traveling to Boston, and it’s something that I’ve given some thought to for a while. The idea of stepping away somehow, not just from this blog, but from the social media world which has occupied so much of my time is an appealing one. Maybe it’s the season of summer, when all I want to do is sit by the pool and read a book and not be bound to phone or laptop.

When faced with the quagmire of possibility involved in taking a break, it’s best to keep things simple, but also leave room for change and evolution. It also gives notice that this blog may not last forever, and I’m putting the idea of ending ALANILAGAN.com into the universe to discover what may manifest when I open myself up to new options. Maybe someone has a better idea of what can be done with this space – I’m open to any and all suggestions.

My initial thoughts are to leave for the last half of July, all of August, and return in September. A summer vacation, like when we were kids. And then, upon my return, a lessening of the three-posts-a-day schedule I’ve maintained for the past few years, and the ease of not feeling obligated to post something every single day. That’s a grueling schedule. I’ve been posting 364-days-a-year for over a decade – it’s time to re-enter the real world.

Does it mean I won’t come back if something noteworthy enough happens? No – I’m open to doing a quick visit should there be a new Madonna song or President in the next two months, but I’m really looking forward to not being connected, not being on my phone, not having the continual pressure to post in the background of everything else that’s going on. That’s no way to live anymore.

I’ll keep you posted on the development, and I promise not to pull an Irish goodbye on anyone (much as I’d like to exit without fanfare or notice). There will be a proper farewell-for-now post. We deserve that. In the meantime, a few more lazy posts to come before I go… and a few you won’t want to miss.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.”― F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Deep, Dark Underbelly of the Internet

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“They’re a rotten crowd’, I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”― F. Scott Fitzgerald

When a silly response to all the Rob Kardashian drama that went down on Instagram and Twitter today garners 400,000 impressions while a legit request for aid to my parents doesn’t get any traction at all, one realizes the utter insanity and hopelessness of the internet. That’s sort of why there’s a big announcement as to the fate of this blog coming in the next day or two – and it will hopefully bleed over into my social media outlets as well. Watch out FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram (and follow me before it’s too late!)

As for the fate of ALANILAGAN.com… stay tuned.

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America, My Captain

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Given the current Loser-In-Chief, it’s getting more and more difficult to be proud of America, but for the true patriots among us, the believers in truth and honor and integrity, this remains a very great country, of which I will always be proud. America is an idea – the abstract but awe-inspiring idea of freedom – and that cannot be ruled or ruined by one small-handed man. Instead, our country will rise above, as it has time and time again. All of us stumble and fumble at some point in our lives, and most countries are the same way. We will be better than we were before. We have to be.

Until then, I give you Captain America. The world is in need of a hero.

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