Panaeolus Something?
But most of that type grows on dung, and this grew on dead wood in UD‘s garden. She is pondering starting a victory garden.

Snapshots from Home: News from Garrett Park

UD‘s hometown newspaper provides updates on events and issues of interest.

[At the last Town Council meeting, a proposal was introduced] to construct a tunnel from the bottom of the hill by Beach Drive to Stillwater Avenue in Garrett Park Estates. This would eliminate all through traffic from the existing Strathmore Avenue, thereby making it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross.


The mayor then turned the presentation over to town manager Andrea Fox, who had done some research for the mayor. The average tunnel costs in advanced countries range from $200 to $500 [million] per mile (although the Second Avenue subway line in Manhattan has been much higher at $1.5 billion). Under the TFSN program, the federal government will cover 90 percent. Thus, if the tunnel works out to $500 million, the government portion would be $450 million, and the Garrett Park portion $50 million. The town would have to impose a one-time tax (perhaps spread over several years to lower the annual burden) of approximately $170,000 per household.

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Join celebrated Garrett Park mixed media artist Horst Van Vliet at a reception and opening for his new Penn Place exhibition, Camp Jejune. Seizing the momentum of his devastating West Olney Arts Council show, Hammer and Popsicle, Van Vliet lashes out at the forces of banality in modern society with works of violent originality. “I wish to show with my art the staggering futility of our pathetic attempts to find meaning in the drudgery of human existence,” Val Vliet says. “Each of my paintings has a voice. Each of them cries out, ‘We are not people. We are plastic. It is we who belong in the recycling bin.'” Displayed works will include “Still Life with Glass Shards,” “Hair and Mud Collage No. 35″…

Potatoes: The New UD Staple.

As the three UD‘s hunker down, UD notes that the humble spud, in the form of oniony garlicky lemony hash browns, has emerged as queen of the kitchen. A glance at the potatoes coronavirus Google News page (CORONA SURVIVOR CREDITS GOD AND POTATO SOUP. FARMERS RUSH TO SUPPLY SPUDS DURING CORONAVIRUS.) confirms the new centrality of the plant.

My Niece (I’ve Never Met Her) is a Reality Show Star.

Which is only one of the fascinating things I’ve learned from a family member’s just-published report on the Rapoports. (UD‘s father, Herbert Rapp, was born Rapoport.) Harz, Motel, and six of their sons came to the States from Cherkassy Ukraine in the early years of the twentieth century and settled in Philadelphia. My grandfather, Joseph, was one of the sons.

Another sibling, who stayed in the old country, is presumed to have died at Babi Yar.

Although Joseph and his children look like a typical American Jewish success story (doctors and entrepreneurs galore), a closer look reveals a strikingly high degree of physical and mental infirmity in my father, his two sisters, and quite a few of the children the three of them produced. “Dad’s family,” concluded my sister Barbara, after scanning the report, “was a genetic nightmare.”

1948, Baltimore. Engagement of my parents (far right). My mother’s mother, Fanny Kirson Wasserman, far left. Her husband, Charlie Wasserman, is taking the picture. Middle: Reba and Joseph Rapoport.

Snapshots from Home: UD Sniffs Out a Situation.


At noon today I walked the block and a half to the post office, where the haul was a package of way-medicinal smelling hand sanitizer La Kid ordered from Etsy, and a special issue of the Economist, and I passed no one at all on the way. But as I approached the train tracks and the back of the little Garrett Park station (this image shows the front), I smelled really strong marijuana coming from inside the shelter.

No biggie – you can do recreational weed in MD. But since the only sign of life around the station was a white CSX truck with no one in it – there’s a work project happening on our stretch of tracks – UD (who is much too polite to have peeked) figured the tokers must be bored CSX workers, waiting for some equipment before they can get back to work. Or maybe that’s what they do on their lunch break.

Trimming the Photinia Villosa Planted in 1984…

… on the town right of way adjacent to my house, thank you for asking. The tree, beautiful and healthy, seems to have been ignored for thirty-six years, and UD decided it was time people got a chance to see it.

She has so far thinned and reshaped it so it looks like a tree rather than a tall wild bush (obviously she can only work on the first five feet or so); she is also contemplating removing various pointless little plants at its base. If you enlarge this picture,

you’ll see a weird broad bush/tree of some sort behind the photinia – I’ve tried getting rid of its many dead lower arms but some will need to be hatcheted, which I haven’t gotten around to.

And of course UD‘s doing far more outdoor work than this; but this has been her main activity today.

Today Les UDs Travel from…

… Maryland to Delaware, for another stay at the beach.

Blogging continues unimpeded.

Where I Live.

Sure, idjits are still buying McMansions; but lookee here: A sample of houses sold last week tells you a promising story: The two McMs had to take well over a hundred thousand off their asking prices, while the smallish house on Bayard Boulevard went for $56,000 over the asking price.

Snapshots from Home

UD has begun watching, at home, the YUGE backlog of excellent foreign and domestic films she has failed to watch over many years. Her old friend Lisa Nesselson, who has done little other than watch films most of her life, finds UD‘s neglect of films outrageous, and UD agrees that it is. So here she goes.

Yesterday she watched Wizard of Lies, about Bernie Madoff, the miz and the kids. She was mesmerized by Robert De Niro’s performance, in which he seemed somehow to have crawled inside the skin of the man, but she also took note of the last name of the actor playing one of the sons: Nivola.

Nivola… Wasn’t there a sculptor by that name, and wasn’t he a friend of UD’s father-in-law Jerzy Soltan?

Yup. They had in common Le Corbusier, the Harvard Graduate School of Design… When she mentioned the name to Mr UD, he said:

The Nivolas were away, and we stayed in their New York apartment one Christmas. I was eleven. At some point I figured out how to lock their bathroom with no one in it. So I did this and then sat in a nearby chair watching various family members eventually, politely, and increasingly desperately, begin asking if everything was okay, if they could maybe…

The actor is Nivola’s grandson.

As long as we’re into this whole landscape thing…

… and as long as ‘thesdan weather continues springlike, we’re taking down the ruined sixty (?) year old boundary fence at the top of our property. On the other side of the fence: More (CSX-owned) woods (I mean, I think CSX owns them…), and then the deep narrow canyon the trains come through.

If you live anywhere in the Chicago area…

… you really should consider seeing UD‘s nephew Daniel Fleming in Northwestern University’s Die Fledermaus, starting tomorrow. He’s the lead. In this picture he’s kicking up his heels and making an ass of himself.

His parents are both veteran actors; he’s got acting and singing in his blood. I love his warm, self-deprecating personality; plus he laughs – with seeming sincerity – at UD‘s jokes around the seder table. I think he’s probably a comic genius, and you can catch him in his early years at UD‘s own NU (she was an undergrad English/journalism student there) on Friday February 28, and Sunday, March 1.

La Kid, who likes to look after friends’ dogs…

… takes the one UD calls the bug-eyed paranoid to the Washington Monument.

UD’s Nephew Daniel Rehearses…

… Die Fledermaus at Northwestern University. His favorite song: the Watch Duet.

The sign for the wall of our new library arrives.
Wouldn’t have been possible without him.

Small town.

On a long soggy walk today through Garrett Park, the town I grew up in and moved back to twenty-five years ago, I come upon four police cars and a dump truck. The authorities are once again forcibly removing large abundant junk from the front yard of a man I’ve known since elementary school. Indeed, one of the cops routinely sent out for this abatement procedure is also an old school friend of both mine and the junk guy’s — the police dispatch him hoping a familiar face will make the operation less ugly. Less threatening to the junk guy.

Who, given the complexity of human beings, turns out to be a lot of things besides an angry (KEEP OUT signs are everywhere on the lawn) white male. For decades he’s been the town handyman, circulating in his rusted gray pickup and mowing lawns, repairing machinery, whatever. Although his appearance is a little unnerving – à la late-stage Howard Hughes – he is the soul of sweetness and does much of his work around Garrett Park for free (even though almost everyone here is wealthy). He did quite a bit of raking and mowing for us ten or so years ago and we’re still waiting for the bill.

Garrett Park is a very small town and I’ve known it intimately forever. My old friend Bennett’s mother still lives across the street from the handyman, who helps her out with everything all the time. The house on one side of the junked place burned down a few years ago, and a remarkably large number of townies donated money to get the family in it back on their feet. Rebuilt in a chic woody eco sort of way, it recently sold for about a million dollars, and UD figures the new owners would dearly like to see the end of the handyman.

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And how does ol’ UD, notorious for energetically picking up trash on her walks, feel about this town eyesore, kept by a belligerent old acquaintance?

I always say to Mr UD, “When you get old, everything about you gets worse.” He disagrees, in his pollyannish way; but you know what I mean. The pack rat the junk guy used to be is now, age 65, a mad hoarder, made madder by what he sees as neighborhood and police harassment. When you stand in front of his small house and really contemplate his junk (cars, car parts, mowers, trash cans, plant containers, tables, chairs, rakes, snow shovels, radios, tires, piles of jumper cables, loungers, a trampoline, fake flowers), you perceive the expressivity it represents. None of it is placed arbitrarily. This is an aesthetic gesture — something to do, I guess, with his life work — the gathering up and staging of his accumulation, over many years, of unwanted objects from all of us. We’d walk by its display in MOMA with a shrug.

Ja, ja, of course I want the police to take it away. It makes you laugh, but after the giggle subsides you’re basically appalled. No one should have to look at that.

Like a lot of aesthetic gestures, it has plenty of aggressivity against the world behind it. But it also expresses that thing all of us are desperate to express. I. Exist. Here. This is my private history, my personal truth, my hard-won, hard-salvaged ship.

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