Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Striking Entrance

"Naturally, after a career. . . which spans more than forty years, Redgrave knows something about entrances, exits, and costuming."
The New Yorker, June 27, 2005

For weeks now, I've monitored the trackside
on my rail trek from Baltimore to Washington
to see when the orange trumpet vines burst

into bloom. And now summer heat has zinged
the Bay area, here they are! Growing lushest
in stinky places, processing plant, underpass.

Actresses of common roots! Gorgeous dames
who trip their finery in trackside dumps!
I'll forgive as one smiles as she throttles

a purple clematis. Miss Marple's revenge!

Christopher T. George

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Some Reflections on Parents for Father's Day

Father

After Adam Bellow

You were my famous father, Saul, but after age two
I did not live with you. You always remained a distant
cypher. We never celebrated my birthday together,
no cake with funny bunnies, trick candles, giggles

over balloons that burst or whizzed round the room.
No. You were elsewhere and then at Thanksgiving
and Hannukah too. You were elsewhere, fathering
other sons and later a daughter. Each child hoped

they would somehow someday know you, longed
for an orgy of togetherness, sharing the first light,
a beer with their dad, yellow-green fireflies rising.
You married new women, one after another, won

the Nobel Prize, entertained your readership with
your eruditeness, the aging witty, sensitive writer.
You shared with everyone except your offspring.

But contrariwise, I know you: my dream fulfilled.
My father, whom I never knew, cohabits my body.

Christopher T. George

**********************

Red Roses and Orange Lilies

Busy midweek, I drive Mom for a Saturday morning grocery shop,
she worries that the sign says "Speed hump" instead of "bump."

I say is it "catsup" or "ketchup"? She says "It's a different recipe."
I say, in medicine, a cream is waterbased and creme oil-based,

still she worries that the light is taking too long to change, worries
where she is, needs to know, forgetful. My mother at eighty-four.

Christopher T. George

Note: at this time I am featured poet at Hypertexts -- http://www.thehypertexts.com/

Also check out my personal poetry site at chrisgeorge.netpublish.net/index.htm

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tom Hanks' Deep Throat Movie versus Woodward's?

The family of Mark Felt, recently revealed to be "Deep Throat" supposedly Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's major informant during the Watergate scandal, have a publishing and movie deal and Felt might end up being played by Tom Hanks whose company have optioned Felt's life story. Where does this leave a possible movie deal for Woodward's upcoming book? Or will the Tom Hanks film be mostly about Felt's life, as implied in the following Washington Post story, leaving the way open for a movie based on Woodward's book focusing on Deep Throat and Watergate?

Deep Throat Family Cuts Publishing, Film Pacts
Tom Hanks to Develop Movie About Secret Watergate Source

By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 16, 2005; Page C01

Deep Throat has a book deal and a movie deal, and he could end up being played by Tom Hanks.

The family of 91-year-old W. Mark Felt, who revealed his role as The Washington Post's key Watergate source two weeks ago, has chosen PublicAffairs Books to publish a combination of autobiography and biography, publisher and CEO Peter Osnos said last night. Osnos said that Universal Pictures has optioned Felt's life story and the book for a movie to be developed by Hanks's production company, Playtone.

He said the book will blend Felt's own writing about his life, including his out-of-print 1979 memoir, "The FBI Pyramid: From the Inside," and some unpublished material, with contributions from Felt's family and from lawyer John D. O'Connor, who has been advising the Felts. O'Connor wrote the Vanity Fair article that named Felt as Deep Throat after the secret had been kept for 33 years.

The additional material from Felt, Osnos said, includes discussion of how he decided to provide guidance to Post reporter Bob Woodward, and why.

The book is to be published next spring. Its working title is "A G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington."

David Kuhn, the New York-based agent who has been representing the family in conjunction with Beverly Hills-based Creative Artists Agency, said last night that "Hanks's company was interested in the rights to the story within a day or two" of the revelation of Deep Throat's identity. He said the movie deal was concluded Tuesday night.

Kuhn would not comment on the sums paid in either the book or the movie deal, except to say that the family's decision on the book "was not based on money" but rather on the vision for its publication put forth by Osnos, a former Washington Post reporter and editor who helped cover the Senate Watergate hearings.

PublicAffairs generally doesn't pay advances of more than $75,000.

Neither Felt's daughter, Joan, nor his son, Mark Jr., returned phone calls last night. Kuhn said they would be "interviewed for the book and would participate in the storytelling."

During the two weeks the Felt project was being shopped, it met with considerable skepticism from publishers. The two reasons usually cited were the health of the elderly Felt, whose physical and mental deterioration appeared to preclude new contributions from him, and the presence of a competing book from Woodward, who had already written his own version of the Deep Throat story.

Woodward's "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat" is being rushed into print. His publisher, Simon & Schuster, has set a publication date of July 6.

Warner Books publisher Jamie Raab said last week that she had heard the Felt pitch and decided not to bid. "The book is not a Watergate book per se," Raab said. "It's not going to answer some of the lingering questions. . . . They're sort of writing around Mark Felt's life."

Little, Brown editor Geoff Shandler expressed skepticism as well, but he didn't rule out the success of a Felt book. "Traveling in Woodward's wake could be a profitable place to be, depending on what you pay and when you publish," Shandler said. "There is an equation that would work."

But publishing executives agreed that the real money was on the Hollywood end.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sequined Glove

.
.
The aging boy, man-child,
surgically mutated,
the Calif legal system's
rigamarole of metal detectors
as superstar and entourage pass through.
Apply the pale makeup today, the blank look--

Ooh, baby, baby
Where did our love go?


What to do when the cameras fade away,
when the music fades, the memory
of jack-up trousers with white socks?

The gates of the Neverland Ranch
where the seventh of nine children
slept with other children. Man-child.

Music makes you free--

His own private theme park
with Zipper ride,
ride the rollercoaster all night long.

A memory of twenty years ago--
the red leather jacket
with all the zippers, black-face boy
singing "Beat It"
reinventing the Sharks and Jets
for a new generation.
The kids flocked
to Waxie Maxie's
to plunk down their bucks
but that was then, this is now.

The cable news guys have packed up
their video equipment and gone home,
leaves blow in front of the gates.

Ooh, baby, baby
Where did our love go?
Ooh, don't you want me
Don't you want me no more
Ooh, baby--


The words echo in the belltower;
the armband, the sequined glove.

Christopher T. George
.
.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Adventures on the MARC train to D.C.

Trouble with the 5:55 am MARC train this morning -- the locomotive pulled us into the tunnel headed southwest out of Penn Station, Baltimore, then died! We had to be hauled back into the station then all boarded the delayed 6:20 am which then made all the stops down to D.C. meaning I was an hour late reaching work. Luckily I am staying later tonight and will also all this week and most next to meet my deadline on June 23. Much to do.

Interesting post by John Simkin on the Education Forum at http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php about the evolution of "Deep Throat" throwing some doubt on whether Mark Felt is actually Bob Woodward's source in the Watergate case:

David Obst, Woodward’s literary agent in the 1970s, has given an interview to the journalist Sharon Churcher. Obst attempted to sell the manuscript of "All the President’s Men." He pointed out that Deep Throat did not figure in the early manuscript of "All the President’s Men." Nor did he appear in any of the Watergate reports in the Washington Post. Obst admits that the manuscript was originally a straightforward political analysis of Watergate that was turned down by seven publishers. Deep Throat was only added to the manuscript after Woodward met the screenwriter William Goldman at a party. It was then accepted by Simon & Schuster. It also became part of a film deal with a script written by Goldman. Obst claims that the character of Deep Throat was inserted in order to get a film deal and a contract with Simon & Schuster.

The identification of Felt as Deep Throat is part of a new Woodward book deal. Woodward’s new book on Deep Throat, "The Secret Man," is due out next month. What a coincidence?

Interesting stuff.... !!!

Incidentally, I joined the Education Forums, based in England, to discuss my interest in Jack the Ripper. I am glad to find that my old friend Stewart Evans is one of the authorities posting on the site. It is some time since we have been in contact.

************************

Written on my way home on the MARC Train on Friday afternoon:

Cabbage Whites

At last, done with my deadline, I see the world anew,
my senses alive as I ride home by train in the afternoon sun,

move slow near BWI Airport: sandy soil, honeysuckle, vetch,
I see cabbage whites wander the yellow and pink blossoms,

white mostly but an occasional yellow or orange fritillary.
No stunners these guys, not the diva-like swallowtail or regal

monarch, the other-worldly luna moth I saw in South Carolina!
No! Whites perform no leads -- they take bit parts, like me!

Christopher T. George

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday in D.C. -- Still Hectic!

Chance of rain today, with some dark clouds hanging ominously round. As I indicated before, the charactersistically hot and steamy Chesapeake Bay summer has begun.

Yesterday, I finally completed the art dummy for the gynecologic oncology unit that I am working on, and am expected to turn in the whole text on June 23, so anticipate to be working late in the next two weeks to accomplish that. But it is the nature of the job that I signed up for.

At the same time I am trying to work on several personal projects, including finishing writing a Bicentennial history of the St. Andrew's Society of Baltimore, founded in 1806, and work with a director and producer in Charlotte, North Carolina, to produce a version of my musical "Jack--The Musical" written with French composer Erik Sitbon. See http://www.actorssceneunseen.com/ripper.asp

I wrote recently on my friend in connecttion with a poem of mine published on Michael Parker's blog http://www.desertmoonreview.com/discus/messages/6976/13681.html that human disasters and atrocities recede in memory, unfortunately, as newer and worse disasters arise... think how Three Mile Island, Bhopal, and Chernobyl have receded, and also Oklahoma even in the wake of 9/11. The recent devastating southeast Asian tsunami comes to mind as well... and I would like to direct anyone interested to a short historical essay about the origin of the use of the word "tsunami" in English. Go to "Go to Lafcadio Hearn and the Japanese Tsunami: A Historical Essay. "

***************

Crispy Chicken in Karachi

Mr. Rangoonwala has a problem.

Smoke blackens his KFC
and the smiling face of Colonel Sanders
with goatee and string tie.

The sign over the burned out KFC encourages:
"Come have a chicky meal. . ."

When an Al Queda suicide bomber
blew himself up at the nearby
Shiite mosque,

killing a muezzin, a policeman, and himself,
Shiites looked for a target.

They burned out the KFC
with six employees inside;
two froze to death in the freezer.

A banner at the mosque says
"We want to warn America:
Martyrdom is out heritage."

Mr. Rangoonwala survived
the burning of another of his outlets
when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.

He produced decorative plates that said,
"Pakistani owner. . . Pakistani manager."
But no one has been killed before.

Mr. Rangoonwala has a problem.

Christopher T. George

"Colonel Sanders Finds Himself Under Fiery Siege in Pakistan," New York Times, June 8, 2005



***************

Held Captive

Struggling to meet my deadline, I am kept late in work.
The publications people and Sallye my supervisor breathe
down my neck for the material to publish the final stage

of the gynecologic oncology unit. Stages! All the staging
algorithms for vulvar, cervical, ovary, breast cancer,
all with boxes of tiny type, of scientific gobble-di-gook:

"Exploratory laparotomy, TAH-BSO plus peritoneal cytology,
pelvic lymphadenectomy, brachytherapy, hysterotomy."
Staging! I want to catch a stage out of here! I tiredly ache,

glance out at the late afternoon D.C. scene of bright sun,
the new office building rising inexorably. Men in hardhats work
in the open floors of cement and two by fours--and, caged

at upper right of my window, I make out the captive pinnacle
of the Washington Monument amid steel bars, cement pillars,
near-buried from view by the new Colossus! Aargh! Get

me out of here, burst the bars, the chains! Freedom beckons!

Christopher T. George

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tuesday in Hot and Humid D.C.

Hot and steamy this morning in D.C. -- welcome to the Chesapeake Bay summer! After last evening's thunderstorms, streams and rivers swollen sickly yellow-brown as I traveled down by MARC train from Baltimore. Today promises to be another hectic day as I wrestle to get in the illustrations for Gynecologic Oncology unit. Stay tuned.

Woodward and Bernstein were totally blindsided I think by the sudden announcement that Mark Felt was "Deep Throat" something that Ben Bradlee and the Post first denied when the Felt family made the revelation in connection with the upcoming Vanity Fair article on Felt. Luckily, Woodward had a book in hand on the topic, having learned earlier that Felt was ailing after a recent stroke. Looks to be another blockbuster for Woodward. It appears to me that the remaining loose end and question is whether Felt is really lucid enough to know what is going on. His daughter and grandson made the announcement about him being "Deep Throat" but how much did he really know about it?

Bobbleheads

"Bob, the decision to invade was not lightly made,"
George W. confesses to Woodward. "I felt certain I had
the votes." Bob sees Congress as bobbleheads. He nods.

"I hold the lives of all our men and women in my heart."
Bob envisions a burned-out humvee as insurgents brandish
rocket launchers, ready to die for Allah. "I knew I had

the blessing of the man upstairs." Bob sees God's angels
nodding as bobbleheads. George W.'s scottie humps
Bob's leg. "Guess it's time for walkies round the ranch."

Christopher T. George

Monday, June 06, 2005

Another Monday in D.C.

A humid morning in Washington, D.C., and as usual I am mounded under with work, both real work and my own projects, almost ready to cave under the pressure, somehow soldier on. Deadline tomorrow for the illustrative work for the gynecologic oncology unit I am finalizing obstetrics and gynecology educational series at which I earn my bread.

I was fascinated last week reading the articles in the Washington Post about the unveiling of Mark Felt, former no. 2 man in the FBI as "Deep Throat" of the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard M. Nixon. There is a good article on the hypocrisy of Nixon's cronies such as G. Gordon Liddy and Charles Colson going on the news shows to express their outrage at Felt's supposed duplicity at "betraying" the President. I find myself fascinated by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter who along with Carl Bernstein, did most to unravel the Watergate conspiracy, both the facts of the break-in and the subsequent cover-up by the Nixon White House.

I have written a series of light poems about Woodward, at the time of his book on the Iraq War, and several follow--

The Nation Feels Like a Trout Caught by Bob Woodward

We're live on Larry King
during Bob's vacation
and Larry's gone to commercial.
Woodward has two cell phones
clamped to his ear, he draws
on a cigarette, pulls smoke deep
into his throat, his line sunk
in a stream. Larry's back
and Bob's caught a trout,
the line pulls tight;
Larry: "Did you ask
the President if he ever had
doubts about the war--"
Bob reels in the trout:
"I asked him in the Oval Office
if, when he thought of the soldiers
killed, did he ever have doubts,
and he answered, 'Never.'"
The trout flaps and flaps.

Woodward Hawks Kitchen Knives on Larry King

This guy's never off the box, hawking his new book
slicing up the presidency, unveiling the clockwork
inside the White House, behind the prez's smile.

"Hurry, offer ends soon. Act now and I'll throw in
my alligator knife." It catches the sun like the Samurai
swords in the duel between Rumsfeld and Powell.

"If you call now, I'll throw in this heavy-duty knife
for filleting whales." He juggles blades; Larry asks,
"Who was Deep Throat? Who was Bernstein?"

Christopher T. George

*************

I was thinking of writing another Woodward poem featuring Woodward and Felt in a similar vein to the above. So far, I have come up with the following rather straightforward telling of the story in which I reflect on how the Felt revelation is being received--

Rattlesnake Apparatchik?

The cool G Man who rose inexorably in Hoover's FBI,
you were a tall, smooth operator with coiffed hair
who locked bad guys in the slammer; with snazzy tie,
derby at an angle, you practiced shooting from the hip.

When Vietnam bred new foes for obsessive J. Edgar--
SDS, Panthers--you dutifully chased them down.
A natch that when the old war horse died,
you expected to slide into his doeskin loafers

But It Didn't Happen!--Nixon tapped a crony.
When Tricky Dick ordered a political break-in,
you began to leak tips to the Washington Post,
assumed the codename of a porn legend, met

at 2 AM in the basement of a Roslyn garage;
used the old spy tricks perfected in a career
of deception: you would monitor when
reporter Woodward opened his drapes, moved

a flowerpot with a red flag on his apartment balcony,
marked the reporter's Times with the hands of a clock
with time to meet. Ironic: Nixon later testified
for you, the perfect apparatchik, about "illegal"

break-ins against foes of the war. Many expected
a more famous face; the Post never blew your cover.
To liberals, you're a patriot; to others, a rattlesnake
apparatchik who betrayed a great President.

Christopher T. George