Monday, 31 October 2011


Las Acacias (Argentina)
Karen Cries On The Bus (Columbia)

An Argentinian truck driver picks up a load of lumber in Paraguay. On his way back to the border, he stops and waits for a woman whom his boss has paid him to take with him to Buenos Aires. When the woman arrives, she is carrying an infant daughter, which was not part of the deal. But it was his boss' request. They drive on, he nearly leaves her behind, but finally he gets her across the border, takes her all the way to the capital, and slowly warms to her and her daughter. They get to Buenos Aires, where she's greeted warmly by her relatives, and goes inside. He waits. Eventually she comes back out. They agree they might meet. He drives away.

That's all that happens in Las Acacias, at least on the surface of things. But as a study in the hesitant return of a shut-down man to humanity, in the power of optimism, and as a slow-building maybe love story, it is as touching and convincing a film as I have seen in some time. Yes, it is a two-hander, and yes, it is a road movie, and we know how these elements constitute almost a special genre in independent film. But a number of things make Las Acacias stand out from such works—and justified fully its winning the Sutherland Award, for 'most original and imaginative first feature' at the London Film Festival.

The most important is the way director Pablo Giorgelli uses the road not as a device, but as a metaphor, for the narrow confines of truck driver Ruben's life. He is more than a loner, or a creature of the road; he exists within the boundaries of the highway, within the claustrophobic spaces of his truck's cab. His links are to his sister, to whom he delivers a birthday present many months late, and to his son, who exists in a picture, taken the first time he ever met him, when the boy was eight. He is living in an existential wilderness, his rituals of gear shifting and drinking mate, guarani, or fizzy water are the sort of rituals of theatre of the absurd.

Into this existence comes Jacinta and her daughter, added to his truckload of acacias. There are parallels: he has a son he doesn't see and a mother who's never mentioned; she has a daughter she carries with her and her bags, and says the baby has no father. But she has hope; for her the road is simply a way of getting from one place to a more promising alternative, one where she and her daughter will have a better future.

Eventually, Ruben's gruff, hardened exterior begins to bend, and it is here that German DeSilva's performance is extraordinary. He shows the way Ruben has internalised the strict boundaries of his world, he implies the self-protection that forms the foundation of that attitude. And he shows the hesitation, the almost self-bewilderment, with which Ruben begins to emerge, dares to take the chance. Hebe Duarte, as Jacinta, has to play straight-man at times, to this impassivity, which she does with great sensitivity—and the beauty of the film is we watch waiting for the worst to happen, for the fragility under Ruben's hard exterior to crack, and for Jacinta to pay the price. But it doesn't happen, and the film ends on a small note of hope, even as Ruben drives his truck away, still shifting gears. It was probably my favourite of all the films I saw in the Festival, and it's rare I find myself in such whole-hearted agreement with the LFF awards.

Karen Cries On The Bus exchanges types of vehicles, opening with Karen, indeed, sitting on a bus in tears. It is the story of a woman who leaves her husband in search of herself. Karen finds herself with few skills and little money, with a room in a shabby boarding house, and quickly reduced from optimistic job-seeking to begging at the bus station and stealing food and basics. It's also a familiar tale, and this Columbian film stays truer to the tropes than Las Acacias; the husband is a charming boor, Karen finds a somewhat iffy friend with a heart of gold, and she meets a man who is much closer to her ideal—all of it very predictable, and not really going anywhere new. But Angela Carrizosa Aparicio is absolutely brilliant as Karen, flashing intelligence beneath her seeming helplessness in the face of life on her own in the big city. The way she adjusts, or doesn't, to the filthy and barely working communal shower in her boarding house acts as a metaphor for that adjustment, but even better is the way she appears to first shrivel and then blossom, and sometimes both, almost a more demonstrative version of Ruben. In fact, her performance is yang to da Silva's yin; were the Festival presenting best actor and actress awards, those two would likely have been my picks.

Writer/director Gabriel Rojas Vera handles the men in the story brilliantly too: her husband Mario makes the right gestures, but we soon she exactly why she lost in marriage to him, and when she meets a more sensitive and encouraging man, he reveals, to her and to us, the almost ingrained macho attitude which is at the core of what she must overcome to find herself. If it's a little black and white in its juxtapositions, and if her new-found friend is even more a caricature than the men, and her 'conversion' a bit forced, Maria Angelica Sanchez's performance plays off Carrizosa's restraint very well. What's even more impressive is the way scenes are staged, the use of locations, and the way they are shot, with the photography reflecting and amplifying Karen's emotions, draw the audience into her dilemma, and though it is very much a womens' film, none but the Marios in the crowd would fail to be drawn is as well. The film ends as it began, but now Karen is watching another woman on the bus in tears...there are eigh million stories in the naked Bogota, and hers will be another of them.

Las Acacias (Argentina-Spain 2011) directed by Pablo Giorgelli, written by Girogelli and Salvador Roselli
Karen Cries On The Bus (Columbia 2011) written and directed by Gabriel Rojas Vera
both premiered at BFI London Film Festival


My obituary of Frank Kameny, the gay rights activist, is on-line at now, and ought to be in the paper tomorrow (Tuesday 1 November). You can link to it here. There was much to admire about the way Kameny went about his fight for equal rights; and I thought the analogy with the civil rights movement was a good one. But he was also confrontational when he felt he needed to be, and with his bellowing, unmodulated public voice, sometimes seen as overbearing or impolitic. But he deserves to be placed at the forefront of those 'average' people who turned themselves into activists, or were turned into activists rather than submit to prejudice and fear from society. There is a lesson there that still needs to be learned. And just to be clear: the Supreme Court didn't rule on his equal rights case; they heard his arguments, but refused to review the lower court decisions...Kameny had a day in court, but not the day he needed. It didn't stop him.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


I will have the distinct pleasure and privilege of interviewing Michael Connelly at a public event at the Prince Charles Cinema, just off Leicester Square, Tuesday 25 October, at 7pm. Tickets are available at Waterstones as well as via the Prince Charles, and I hope to be able to post a report of the event here at IT soon afterwards. I first met Michael long ago, at a reading he gave in Melbourne, Florida, soon after I'd reviewed Trunk Music for the Spectator, and I was lucky enough to write an afterword to Crime Beat, a collection of his reporting published a few years ago. He's a great interview, a superb crime writer, and well worth listening to.


The Drop pits Harry Bosch against an acronym; the drop in this case referring to Deferred Retirement Option Plan. When Bosch was brought back onto LAPD and assigned to the Open-Unsolved Unit, he knew it would be for a limited time, but now he's hoping to get the maximum extra time allowed before being forced to retire. But as usual with Michael Connelly and with Bosch, there are ambiguities: The Drop might also refer to the drops of blood from a long-unsolved rape-murder which provide a link with a convicted rapist—only he was only eight years old at the time. If someone messed up with the DNA, any number of convictions could be overturned as a result.

Or The Drop might the dive taken by LA political fixer George Irving, found dead beneath the balcony of the room he'd just taken at the Chateau Marmont. Did he fall? Did he jump? Was he pushed? Irving's father is Irvin Irving, a city councilman whose enmity Harry earned when they were both on the force. Irving's now a thorn in the LAPD's side, but he wants Harry as the investigator, and so does the Chief: putting Harry in his usual position between a rock and hard drop.

If that sounds relatively complicated, rest assured it is. George Irving made his living peddling his father's influence, and he was involved in fixing a city licence for taxi services, and might have bent a cop or two to do it. Harry's former partner Kiz now works in the chief's office, and the politics of the department's battle with Irvin Irving lurk over every move Harry makes. The two cases are not connected, but as Harry investigates the rapist whose DNA was identified, now living in a halfway house, he becomes involved with one of the workers there, someone who believes people can be helped to change, that evil is not a permanent state of being. Someone who brings a palette of grays to Harry's more black and white, or shall we say noirish, world.

That has always been the strong point of the Bosch novels, the way that Connelly can meld the format of the police procedural with the noirish, if not hard-boiled, detective. Because Bosch works outside the subtleties and compromises of politics, he fights against his own demons, which tend to make those on his side, but without his morals, almost as guilty as the criminals he chases.

The Drop is Bosch at his complex best, and if anything Connelly weaves a web so tight that the series of revelations at novels end function like a stone skipping across water—and leave enough uncertainty about Harry's future to make his own drop, or Drop, ambiguous. It's Connelly at his best, and there aren't many better.

The Drop by Michael Connelly
Orion, £18.99 ISBN 9781409134282

Saturday, 15 October 2011


The thaw is a crucial part of life above the Arctic Circle, and it is a dangerous life, so when the body of a young woman surfaces in a river, it is going to be written off as an accident or suicide until prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson has a vision in a dream, and realises she is dealing with a case of murder.

Asa Larsson's first two novels both won awards in Sweden, so it is interesting to see the chances she takes and different directions she pursues in her third. Martinsson is a compelling lead character, drawn to life in Kiruna (full disclosure here: my grandfather came from a nearby town, and I have never really felt the urge to settle there) despite the prospect of success in Stockholm, That Wilma Persson (a nice choice of name), the dead girl, participates in the story as a ghost, isn't new; it's a device that's won awards for mainstream writers in the English-speaking world, and ghosts have factored in Johan Theorin's work (set in Oland, oddly enough, because it's the other end of Sweden and it's where my grandmother was born). As a devide it frees Larsson from having to worry about making her book into a 'whodunit', but what makes it really effecticve here is the idea that a character as rational and driven as Martinsson, trying to come to grips with the irrational love she has for the area where she was born, it becomes particularly effective as part of the draw of the north.

Martinsson's romantic relationship with her former boss forms one of the one of the sub-plots here, and Larsson contrasts his handsome charm and city slickness with the more homey virtues of one of the male characters. The other big contrast is between Martinsson and Anna-Maria Mella, the police inspector, who has her own problems with men, including her police partner, which were detailed in the previous novel. It's no coincidence that Scandinavian work examines the pressure of work on the domestic lives of women (think about the Danish TV drama The Killing as a recent example, though it factored in the Martin Beck series 50 years ago) because they have long been established as equal in the workplace, yet the inbuilt prejudices are brought out most strongly in this extreme rural setting. Which leads to Until Thy Wrath Be Past's other real strength: its setting.

By setting I don't mean, in this case, the landscape or weather of the north, although Larsson's descriptions are often telling. Rather, it is the rural background; this novel could be transposed into the American south say, fitting somewhere into the territory of Erskine Caldwell or James Dickey's Deliverance, or perhaps more closely into the Maine of Stephen King, John Connolly or Michael Kimball. It is the people, and in the Krekula brothers Larsson creates two frighteningly vivid villains who are recognisable to anyone who has spent time in those rural areas with their undercurrent of repressed violence. Although Hjalmar, the oversized adolescent, a violent savant, seems familiar from other stories, but he is drawn with depth and sympathy, while the viciousness of Tore, the brother in control, is palpable, and made more so when it is unleashed in a very modest way, on Anna-Maria.

It's also fascinating, because the brothers are trying to protect a secret which has remained hidden for many decades, and which relates back to a time of what in Sweden was divisive (I'm thinking of how America's Southern gothics refer back to the Civil War). In the far north of Sweden, during World War II, the plight of the 'plucky Finns' was very close at hand, as were the Nazi trains moving men and materiel between Finland and Norway. The changing allies in the years between 1939 and 41 made choosing sides difficult all over the world, but the quiet role many Swedes (and indeed some Norwegians)and their businesses enjoyed while supporting the Germans has been a feature of many books, not least Asa Larsson's namesake Steig. That it should remain a somewhat contentious issue seven decades later speaks to its power.

Until Thy Wrath is a many-layered novel, deftly written and as best I can tell, well-translated by Laurie Thompson. And if the ghost story is indeed resolved, and the past revealed, it leaves enough of Martinsson's life unsettled to make readers look forward to the next one.

Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Asa Larsson
Maclehose Press, £12.99, ISBN 9780857050724
NOTE: This review will also appear at Crime Time


My obit of Pete Gent, Dallas Cowboy receiver and author of North Dallas 40, is in today's Independent, you can link to it here. It was, of necessity, short, but there was a lot more I would have liked to say about both the man, and his book and film. It is probably the best novel about football, but there are other contenders. What it did was to come along, as I said in the obit, after Jim Bouton's Ball Four; a time when writer George Plimpton's Paper Lion and Green Bay Packer star Jerry Kramer's Instant Replay had offered insider looks at the NFL, while Dave Meggesey's Out Of Their League was critical of it from much the same perspective as Gent. But Gent's fiction carried with it an aura of reality, as well as a situation where the intrinsic hypocricsy of those who ran it could be highlighted.

Phil Elliott is forced out of the game he loved because he won't conform, and, unlike Seth Maxwell, the team's good ol' boy star quarterback, he flaunts his non-conformity. He delivers on the field, but that isn't enough, because in the computerised Dallas system, there is always going to be someone bigger and/or faster. In Gent's case it was Lance Rentzel, whom Dallas had identified as a potential flanker to replace Gent, and who available from Minnesota because he'd been caught exposing himself (he was married to the TV starlet Joey Hetherton, which made the story even more bizarre). It had been covered up in Minnesota, but when he was caught again in Dallas it became a cause celebe, and again, as Gent's book makes clear, there is a double standard implicit in the morality of America's Team.

I made quite a bit of the Cowboys' scouting: Bob Hayes, of course, considered himself a football player who happened to run, but most NFL teams didn't take that seriously. Cornell Green, who was a very good corner for a long time, was, like Gent, a college basketball player, and the Cowboys specialised in finding guys at small black colleges or the by-then passe Ivy League. The NBA wasn't as rich an option in those days; John Havlicek was the last player cut by the Cleveland Browns before become a star for the Boston Celtics, but as a 6-4 shooting forward Gent was a long-shot, so to speak, for an NBA career.

Dallas' computerised judgement of talent was a metaphor for our dehumanising era, and in the film--which I said unequivocally is the best ever made about American football--Steve Forrest, as the team's owner, and Dabney Coleman as his brother, who has personal issues with Elliott and who has his job because of nepotism, are the real enemy. They are eerily accurate, except perhaps for the extent of their control (though look at Dallas now) and the way Phil perceives that the coach is merely a tool of the ownership is both perceptive and prophetic, if you think what happened after Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys.

There are many other twists to admire in the film: Charles Durning's smarmy assisstant coach, and the born-again quarterback who is the coaches' favourite, and wears number 9, and who drops the extra-point snap that would have tied their cruicial game, sent it into overtime, which Phil and Seth would surely win. Eerie foreshadowing of Tony Romo in Seattle! The film deals with the medical issues every bit as strongly as Any Given Sunday would many years later (you have read my Pocket Essential Oliver Stone, haven't you?). If it ends with less blackness than the novel, well, the metaphoric ending still works.

Gent wasn't a great writer--his other novels are sometimes heartfelt, sometimes revealing, but never as compelling as his first. But his first novel was a great book, coming at just the right time, making just the right message, in just the right way. He then became part of a group of Texas cynics, many of them transplanted, like Gent, from other areas, that included singer Jerry Jeff Walker and writers Dan Jenkins and Bud Shrake, who also wrote good books about football. But his heart probably lay in small town Michigan, to which he returned in the 1990s. The Bangor High School state championship in basketball was a Hoosiers-type story--exactly the sort of sporting triumph which no amount of profit or corporate pressure can take away from an athlete.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


It might be hard to imagine Sergio Leone with a Chinese sense of humour, but if you can, you will probably enjoy Let The Bullets Fly, which plays in this year's London Film Festival and is one of the most entertaining movies on offer. With its knowing combination of plot twists, characters unwilling to take themselves too seriously, and homage, it turns 1920s China into a half-gangster, half-western romp.

Although it's based on a story by a Sihuanese writer, the screenplay's immediate model would appear to be Fistful of Dollars. In this case a bandit, 'Pocky' Zhiang, having blown up a luxury train carrying a con-man named Ma who had been appointed the new governor of Goose Town, takes over Ma's role. But Goose Town is controlled totally by a warlord, Huang. Zhiang, in effect, plays Ma off against Huang, in the tradition of Red Harvest and Yojimbo, but and former governors have found both little profit and short life-expectancy. In this case, the plot's twisting is, if anything, more intricate than its models, especially because Ma's wife continues to play governor's wife, with Zhiang. The Leone-ine roots are made apparent in the scene set of Goose Town, especially its clock tower, but also in the script itself, where the characters have to explain the English word 'dollars'--a knowing wink too at Chow Yun-Fat, who plays Huang, and of course is well known in the west, where he has made a lot of dollars.

What makes it work is the interplay between the three leads: Jiang Wen, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay, plays Zhiang as half thug half philosopher—not that there isn't a casual sort of violence and indifference, which is part of both the Leone and Chinese traditions. As Huang, Chow gets to indulge his great talent for comedy, playing against the expectations he brings to characters. He also plays Huang's double, recruited for his safety, and not the firmest noodle in the bowl—it reminded me of Chow in God of Gamblers, where he played his character regressed to childhood after being wounded in the head: a performance that conceded nothing to, say, Tom Hanks in Big. The beauty of the film is that Zhiang isn't really the man in the middle, it's the conman Ma, played by You Ge with a brilliant combination of cunning and weakness. He's played off brilliantly against his wife, played by Carina Lau (right), who turns out to be the real brains behind the operation, and even more adept than he is at changing sides, at least on the surface. Yun Zhou tries as Flora, who drums the ceremonial drums and is a prostitute charged with spying for Huang, but the role doesn't really allow her much room except as a putative love interest. Added to the mix of ambiguity is a fake Pocky, complete with pockmarks (which the real Zhiang of course doesn't have), with the result that all the action is played out as part of a battle of wits, exactly the dynamic that drove Fistful and its sources.

Is Zhiang really in it for the money? Is he after revenge, once his number one 'son' is killed? Will he be betrayed by Ma? Loaded with slapstick humour to playoff against its action, with martial arts and gun battles, and with the sort of twists that culminate in two groups of fake bandits wearing identical masks facing off against each other in a shadowy street, Let The Bullets Fly is immense fun, and remarkably satisfying. It is, apparently, China's biggest-grossing film ever, not least because Jiang needed a hit after his first film as director didn't do well, and it's easy to see why it was a hit. It played well at the Tribeca Film Festival (where Yun Zhou stole the show), and it should do the same here as well.

Let The Bullets Fly (China/Hong Kong 2010)
directed by Jiang Wen, screenplay by Jiang, Zhu Sujin, Shu Ping based on a story by Ma Shitu, plays the London Film Festival 19/20 October

Saturday, 8 October 2011


There was a fatuous piece on Slate (you can find it here) which I just happened to spot while reading Ron Rosenbaum on Long Island serial killers (don't ask) by one Dahlia Lithwick, which said that Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia ought to take their double-act on 'Living Constitutionalism' (something of an oxymoron itself) on the road, and put TV cameras into the Court, after their boffo show before the US Congress. According to our solons, and Lithwick, the guys are funny! Here's how she explained it:

The bear joke is a Scalia classic. (Patrick Leahy, chairman of the committee, confirms that he’s been telling it for years.) “The story is about the two hunters who are out in the woods in their tent and there's growling in the brush near them,” Scalia told the committee. “And they open the tent flap and there is a huge grizzly bear and they start running. … And—and the guy who's a little heavier and he's running behind, he says, ‘It's no use. We're never going to outrun that bear.’ And the guy who's running in front says, ‘I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!’ ”

As the Senate chamber dissolved in laughter, Scalia sharpened his point, just in case no one got it. “It’s the same with originalism,” he said, referring to his preferred theory of constitutional interpretation. He doesn’t have to prove that it’s the best theory. Gesturing toward Breyer, Scalia said, “I just have to show it’s better than his.”

Nobody expected any less. But the two justices killed before the Judiciary Committee, raising the question anew: Why don’t they do this every week? Why are they hiding this great light under a marble bushel?

Great light? Lithwick wrote Scalia 'sharpened his point in case no one got it', but never realised he'd ALREADY done just that. The punchline of the joke is 'I don't have to outrun the bear!'. Period, full stop, end of joke. 'I just to have to outrun you' is EXPLAINING the joke, and this also explains in a nutshell what is wrong with Washington--that someone who twists the consitution into tantric pretzels for his own ideological gain can tell an old joke, so old it's been used in television commercials, and tell it badly, and thus can be presented by the chatterati within the Beltway as the 'great light' who will get people to 'believe' in the Supreme Court again! Like cameras would reveal some hidden sympathy in the judges, or indeed, reveal Clarence Thomas actually saying anything during the Mudville Nine's deliberations.

Maybe if the Roberts/Scalia Supreme Court occasionally ruled in favour of 'the people' then those people might start to believe in it? And they could leave the jokes to Henny Youngman.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Bert Jansch's death touches me in two ways: first because I've loved his music for such a long time, and second because he's one of those people whose music you realise, in those sleepless brandy moments somewhere before dawn, would be suited perfectly for your own funeral.

If my memory serves me well, I discovered Jansch through one of those Warner-Reprise sampler albums they used to give away for postage, full of very clever, modest marketing, and loads of great music (Van Dyke Parks, the Kinks, Randy Newman, the Beau Brummels, the folk-rock Everleys) that seemed sort of sophisticated, which wasn't a word I applied to rock n roll at the time. The album was Birthday Blues, so it must've been 1969, and I was at university, and it blew me away. I wasn't averse to folk music, but that's not what Jansch was doing; he appealed to me at the time the same way Keith Jarrett did climbing inside the piano with the Charles Lloyd Quartet, or Ken McIntyre did playing jazz contrabass clarinet: his acoustic guitar was harsh, jangling, full of notes played just off the rhythm, or struck forcefully, as if to emphasise what was happening. And it was complemented by his voice, which did the same things— full of emotion that could draw dark or sad shadows behind each song. It might not sound it, but it was romantic too: and 30 years later I would give that very record to my not-yet-wife as a gift of love.

A lot is made of his jazz influences, and I was impressed with Ray Warleigh playing alto and flute, and of course Jansch led me to Pentangle at their peak, where the jazz influence was more obvious. He did any number of fine versions of Mingus' 'Good Bye Pork Pie Hat'. But to me Jansch himself was playing a sort of folk-blues. Bill Frisell has made some records that sound like what jazz would be if it developed out of country music; Jansch often sounded like what folk would be if it had grown out of the blues, and picked up a bit of jazz along the way. He was often compared to some of the great singer-guitar players like Leo Kottke, Ry Cooder or Bruce Cockburn, but he was darker than them, and if Big Bill Broonzy was an early influence, it was one I don't believe he ever left behind.

I saw Jansch a couple of times, once at a pub on Great Portland Street, where I showed up after work at ABC, and marvelled at the way such a huge talent was so at home playing before 30 or 40 people in a smoky room upstairs over an anonymous pub. In my jacket and tie I felt like I was distinctly out of place—but a few notes of his music made that feeling disappear.

His obituaries have made clear just how powerful an influence he was across a huge spectrum of musicians all over the world. Last year he opened on tour for Neil Young, playing huge concert halls, and apparently winning crowds over easily, if not with ease. You can see the affinity with Young, the same voice preferring to get the emotion rather than hit the notes perfectly, the same jangle in the guitar, the same willingness to revisit the same material and do it differently just for the sake of making it new. Always making it new. Bert Jansch was a rare musician of unique talent. He won't be replaced.


My obit of Joe Garland was in the Guardian on 5 September, you can link to it here. It ran pretty much as I wrote it, unfortunately with a short word count, but that was to be expected as the story of Howard Blackburn isn't well known here in Britain, and as far as I know, Unknown Soldiers received no attention here, though in fairness a quick look at its US reviews helped persuade the Guardian that Joe's was a story that their readers would enjoy having told.

What was lost from the piece I wrote was some detail about Joe's wartime experiences in an 'Ironhead' platoon, as 'intelligence and recon' was known, and a little about my own interest in the Gloucester poet Charles Olson, which prompted my friendship with Joe, who had known him well.Olson mythologised the town in his poetry, creating a universe out of it, with himself at the centre, and it was amusing to see the way it looked to someone else in the middle of that world. In that sense, Olson's poem 'The Librarian' ('when does 128 get me home/who is Frank Moore) was our common ground. And I had written about the tour of Eastern Point Joe gave the guests at my friend Alison's wedding; an experience in itself. He loved to talk, and he loved to ask questions.

One of the things I didn't write about was the fact that Joe's first wife, Rebecca Choate, worked in medicine, which given his background I found a curious paradox, and I would have loved to include the story of Helen, his second wife, diagnosing Joe's writer's block with Unknown Soldiers as being a case of long-lingering post-traumatic stress syndrome. She got him to seek help for it, the block disappeared, and a wonderful book was the result. I would have loved to write more about Joe's politics, his contempt for the war-mongerers and profiteers, for the government regulators driving fishermen out of work and off the sea, and many other issues we discussed. I would have loved to have more time to learn about Gloucester's fishermen, their boats, and their seas. And I would have loved to talk Charles Olson the way Joe had with him: through the night, well lubricated. May Joe rest in peace, and may you all read his books...