Waiting For John / An Ode To The Century Past / Imagine by Boris Glikman

The Dakota NYCWell, I finally made it to the city that never sleeps.  Of course the very first place I go to is The Dakota. I spent so many years reading about it, picturing it in my mind, dreaming about visiting it and now I am actually standing right outside its famous wrought-iron gates!

It is October the 9th, 2009. I have specifically timed my very first visit to New York City to coincide with his birthday. Surely he must come out and acknowledge his fans on a day like this, accept their greetings, perhaps even blow out the candles on the cakes some of his admirers will undoubtedly bring along.

Within five minutes of arriving at The Dakota—and what a thrill it is to see it for the very first time—Yoko walks right past me. Strangely, she carries no presents in her hands and looks rather melancholy on this joyous occasion. No, not just melancholy, more than that, she looks completely disconsolate and deflated, shrunken almost, as if some vital part of her has been amputated. But surely, once she walks into their apartment on the 9th floor, his famous wit will cheer her up and his cheeky smile will make her smile, too.

Meantime, I will stand here and wait for him to come out. I have flown across oceans to see him and see him I definitely will, despite those ugly rumours I overheard some time ago about something horrifying that apparently befell him a while back. What nonsense! Crazy things like that just don’t take place in our world. Surely fate would take extra-special care of such a man to ensure nothing bad happened to the creator of such sublime and immortal beauty. Why, I am certain he is half-lying, half-sitting on his bed right now, as I’ve seen him do in photos, picking notes on his guitar and creating more sonic jewels of ineffable wonder.

And so I will stand here and wait for him to come out, till nightfall if necessary, for I have to prove to myself that he is in fact a real person and not just an idealised construct created by mankind to satisfy its insatiable need for heroes. For it is almost impossible to believe so many timeless masterpieces could inexhaustibly flow out of one man. What if he is just an archetypal symbol of our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations for a utopian existence and so all my waiting is in vain? But no, that can’t be!

And so I will stand here and wait for him to come out, till nightfall if necessary, to wish him a happy birthday and to press into his hands some of my own poems and stories, so that he can see for himself that we both share the same ideals and beliefs.

And I will grab the opportunity to tell him how much his music has meant to me over the years, how his music gave me the inspiration and the courage to reach for peaks in my own creative endeavours, how music for me is the loftiest form of art and the most sublime means of expression. Alas, not being gifted with having celestial sounds divine arising and frolicking in my mind, I instead am constrained to convey my inner being through lame, unwieldy, coarse lumps of words.

I will let him know how I have tried to continue his mission of spreading hope and light around the world through my own writings, my own actions, my own conduct and interactions with people, for even one small candle can destroy the infinite darkness of the entire night.

Until then, I will wait, for I know if I wait long enough, he will come. He just has to come, for New York City is the place where everything is achievable, the place where impossible, ineffable dreams come true. And so if I just close my eyes and wish hard enough, surely he must appear!

“Waiting for John” comes from a series of pieces written by Boris Glikman titled “Impressions of America” after he visited the USA. This series takes a surreal and unusual look at America. Read more about Boris’ adventures here.

AN ODE TO THE CENTURY PAST

That was the age of despair, disrepair
of the damned and the condemned
but this is now, the New Utopia.

That was the time when we killed off our muses,
throwing their remains to the ravenous dogs;
our innocence disembowelled,
our hopes quartered
with five hollow-point bullets
on that cold December night. 

When six million replaced six-six-six
as the accursed number of all eternity and
six million nameless faces,
six million faceless names
were extinguished for that greatest crime of all –
Existence.

But this is now, the Neo-Utopia.

That was the age of despair, disrepair
when raven-black sun
threw rays of shadow upon the Earth
and giant bullfrogs ate pygmy antelope
bones, hooves and all.

But still we fought on, hoping for meaning to appear.
Yet when it arrived, it was only in our dreams,
dissipating the moment we awoke
and grabbed at its gossamer threads
with our crude, clumsy hands.

And this is now, the Last Utopia.

Imagine by Michael Cheval

“Imagine” by Michael Cheval


Imagine

When the city that never sleeps finally retires to bed, exhausted by its own exuberance and hyperactivity, then and only then does John appear at the memorial dedicated to him in Central Park.

Betrayed and forsaken by God, Fate and Mankind on that cold December night, John now performs for no one but himself, singing softly the sonic jewels of wonder he has composed posthumously, and still believing, despite everything that had happened, love is all you need.

He wears a hat made out of a mincer which is filled not with dead meat but with living strawberries, his favourite fruit, and his piano is a zebra-girl hybrid who died young, at the very same instant John passed into eternity.

If all this seems to be quite bizarre and beyond belief, one must remember this is New York City after all, a place where impossible and ineffable dreams do come true, if only one imagines them hard enough.

@Boris Glikman

Dad, Me, and Muhammad Ali: A Father and Son Story by Felix Manuel Rodriguez

Book Review
Title: Dad, Me, and Muhammad Ali
Author: Felix Manuel Rodriguez
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Released: May, 2009
Pages: 108
ISBN – 1440146241
ISBN – 9781440146244
Stars: 4.0

It is not often that I can say that I am truly honoured to write a review for an author whose acquaintance I made on the Internet, but in this case, I most certainly am.

This weekend, I read an absolutely wonderful, positive story about the relationship between a father and his son, to my 7-year-old niece and nephew (who came to my home for a sleepover) and we all loved it! Although I must report that Ethan was disappointed that the Blue Jays didn’t win the baseball game against the Yankees in the beginning of the book – we are after all, Ontarians!

Felix Manuel Rodriguez of Waterbury, Connecticut wears many hats. He is a writer, state child welfare employee, vice president of a local non-profit human service organization, and professional boxing inspector. He is also an assistant youth coach, police commissioner, but most importantly, he is a proud father of two children, Felix Joezā (a.k.a. Jo-Jo) and Jalissa, who are featured in Dad, Me, and Muhammad Ali, and who are very fortunate to have such a loving and interactive father; one who is described in detail in the book.

In Felix’s words:

“…the story is based on true events involving my son and me in Harlem, NY. Read my bio on my website www.dadmeandali.com. I wrote this book because I value fatherhood. I grew up a fatherless child along with my six siblings living in the public housing projects. I am the youngest of the boys and it was tough growing up without a dad. So I made a promise to my kids that I will always try to be there for them. That is a big reason why I wrote this book. I wanted to share a father and son story sprinkled with Latino culture flavorings.”

Honest and sentimental without being syrupy in any way, Dad, Me, and Muhammad Ali tells the story of young Jo-Jo, who learns a valuable lesson the hard way when while playing ball with his sister Jalissa in their father’s sports room, the unthinkable happens! They accidentally hit one of their father’s prized collectables that’s hanging on the wall: an autographed photo of Felix’s hero, Muhammad Ali; which falls to the floor, crashing the glass frame, and damaging the photo. Realizing what he’s done, Jo-Jo is sick with worry and expecting the worst when his father gets home.

Felix, who does everything he can to promote respect and sportsmanship, realized that the event was an accident, but also that the children should have listened to what they had been told. He exhibits understanding under the circumstances but Jo-Jo feels so guilty about ruining his father’s cherished photograph that he decides, with the help of his mother, to come up with a way to make it up to him even if it means spending his very last dime and then some. Father and son end up having an adventurous journey to Harlem, New York where Felix finally gets to meet his hero.

This heartwarming story is about the importance of being a good father and a hero and describes exactly what being a hero means. I was able to explain that concept to my niece and nephew who didn’t understand it when I began reading the story and asked, “What’s a hero?”

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something deep inside…a desire, a dream, and a vision. They have to have the skill and the will…but the WILL, must be stronger than the SKILL.” – Muhammad Ali

Dad, Me, and Muhammad Ali has lots of great facts in it about The Greatest of All Time including Ali’s professional boxing record at the back of the book, a questionnaire for budding “Aliologists”, and a Certificate of Aliology for those who can answer the questions correctly. It is an excellent educational book that would fit in well in sports collectibles shops and every public school’s library in North America, as well as a charming tribute to the importance of being a father and being there for your children.

“Life is like boxing, it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. What matters most is how many times you get back up.” – Felix Manuel Rodriguez

Illustrators Noé Peralez and Francis Philibert contribute excellent black and white sketches, primarily of Muhammad Ali, at the beginning of every chapter and Erika and Ethan’s favourite is the one of Jo-Jo being hugged by Ali. They thought that was just great!

I highly recommend the fun-to-read Dad, Me, and Muhammad Ali to parents of children ages 6-12, as well as boxing fans and budding Aliologists everywhere. This is a book that the great Ali himself would be proud of.

For more on Felix Manuel Rodriguez and Muhammad Ali, visit www.dadmeandali.com.