Exclusive: Trump the billion-dollar loser — I was his ghostwriter and I saw it happen
On Tuesday, the New York Times scooped the world on the news that from 1985 to 1994, Donald Trump incurred the biggest business losses of any single taxpayer in American history. What was it like for him to lose more than $1 billion in a decade? Was he perpetually ashen-faced with fear? Or smirking at the thought of outwitting the IRS “for sport,” as he said in a Wednesday morning tweet? I happen to know, because from late 1988 to 1990, I was his ghostwriter, working on a book that would be called Surviving at the Top . Right in the middle of this period, I can tell you that the answer is that he was neither. Except for an occasional passing look of queasiness, or anger, when someone came into his Trump Tower office and whispered the daily win/loss numbers at his Atlantic City casinos, he seemed to be bored out of his mind.
I tend to see my time with him — the first part of it, anyway, before things started going bad in a hurry — as his “King Midas” period. I never said this to him; if I had, he probably would have thought I was suggesting he enter the muffler business. But it was a stretch of months when everything he touched turned into a deal. The banks seemed to accept the version of him depicted in his first book, The Art of the Deal, which we now know from his previous ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, was entirely invented. They believed it over what they saw on his balance sheets or heard coming out of his mouth, and never said no to his requests for more money. Often they came up with things he could say yes to before he could think of them himself. As a result, a failing real estate developer who had little idea of what he was doing and less interest in doing it once he’d held the all-important press conference wound up owning three New Jersey hotel-casinos, the Plaza Hotel, the Eastern Airlines Shuttle and a 281-foot yacht.
A real go-getter, right? But Trump’s portfolio did not jibe with what I saw each day — which to a surprisingly large extent was him looking at fabric swatches. Indeed, flipping through fabric swatches seemed at times to be his main occupation. Some days he would do it for hours, then take me in what he always called his “French military helicopter” to Atlantic City — where he looked at more fabric swatches or sometimes small samples of wood paneling. It was true that the carpets and drapes at his properties needed to be refreshed frequently, and the seats on the renamed Trump Shuttle required occasional reupholstering. But the main thing about fabric swatches was that they were within his comfort zone — whereas, for example, managing hotels and airlines clearly wasn’t. One of his aides once told me that every room at the Plaza could be filled at the “rack rate” (list price) every night and the revenue still wouldn’t cover the monthly payment of the loan he’d taken out to buy the place. In other words, he’d made a ridiculous deal. Neither he nor the banks had done the math beforehand. Or perhaps Trump knew it, because someone had told him, but didn’t want to think about it. The one thing he is above-average at is compartmentalization.
Donald Trump with his then-wife Ivana, July 4, 1988. (Photo: Marty Lederhandler/AP) More On days when there were no broadlooms or chenilles to ponder, we would sit around his office and shoot the breeze while (as we now know) out there someplace in the real world, his businesses were hemorrhaging cash. He’d talk about the Yankees, show me pictures of Marla Maples (whom he was then romancing while still married to Ivana) and tell me obviously madeup stories, such as how he had just the other day seen a beautiful, completely naked woman on the street. “Put that in the book!” he’d say, and I’d pretend to write it down.
Occasionally famous people like Bob Hope or America’s Cup captain Dennis Conner came by for no obvious purpose, except that they were paying court and it helped Trump pass the time. Once during a lull I told him a story I thought he’d like to hear, about how I had just taken the Trump Shuttle to Washington, and as we flew through a storm the plane had been struck by lightning.
I commended the pilot for the way he handled the incident; he had gotten on the loudspeaker to tell the passengers what had happened and to reassure them. But instead of being pleased to hear that, Trump, using the general number, immediately dialed the shuttle to demand to know why he hadn’t been informed about what had happened. Unfortunately it took about 10 rings before it was answered by a woman who answered, “Good morning, Trump Shuttle.” By then he was purple with rage. “This … is … Donald … Trump!” he growled. For the poor woman, it must have been like working at Popeye’s and getting a call from the sailor man himself. “Why did it take so long to answer this phone?” Trump demanded. Then, after bawling her out for a minute or two, he hung up abruptly, forgetting why he had called in the first place.
Each day was a string of such nonsensical moments. Once, trying to steer the conversation towards something we could actually use in our book, I asked him about his father. “We haven’t touched on him yet,” I said. “What can you tell me?”
He stared into the middle distance and began to speak. “My father…”
A long pause followed. Then he said, “Charles, put something there. I’ll look at it later.”
The Trump Princess arriving in New York City, July 4, 1988. (Photo: Marty Lederhandler/AP) More Trump’s King Midas period ended in early 1990, when news broke about his looming bankruptcy. At around the same time, Ivana said she was leaving him and Mike Tyson, who had drawn so many people into his Atlantic City hotels, got knocked out by Buster Douglas in Japan. Everything was going to hell. Of course, everything had been going to hell for a a couple of years by then, but now his failure, for the first time, was public, and that made it 100 times worse. That made it real.
In the final weeks of working on the book, we attempted to explain away his disasters, such as the forced sale of his yacht. “As much as I’ve enjoyed it until now,” he (I) wrote, “and as impressive as it’s been to my casino customers, I think I’m giving up the game of who’s got the best boat. … I don’t need it anymore, I don’t want it anymore, and, frankly, I can find better things to do with the money.”
Translation: I’m broke.
He seemed unusually subdued during this period, understandably. One day he told me a sobering story about seeing a homeless person on the street and realizing that man was better off than he was because the homeless man had nothing while he, Trump, had less than zero. Because Trump doesn’t ever walk down the street, would never notice a homeless person if he did and the story involved a degree of introspection, I knew it couldn’t be true and that he was probably parroting something he’d heard someone else say. Still, I included it in the revised introduction.
Let’s just say he didn’t like it. The harsh phone call I got began: “This … is … Donald … Trump.” That’s how I knew he’d built a nicely carpeted compartment around his colossal failures, and moved on.
Charles Leerhsen (@CharlesLeerhsen) is a biographer and historian whose books include “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.”
Trump: Biden 2020 reminds me of Trump 2016
President Donald Trump sees parallels between Joe Biden’s early surge to the front of the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field and his own runaway success in the 2016 Republican primaries.
In an interview with POLITICO on Friday afternoon, Trump cast the former vice president as a clear, if flawed, front runner, noting that Biden had recently flubbed the name of Britain’s prime minister. And he compared Biden’s early success in a heavily crowded field to his own entry and rapid ascent in the 2016 Republican campaign.
“I look at it like my race” in 2016, the president said in a phone interview, predicting that Biden will remain at the head of the pack of 22 Democrats running for president.
Recalling his June 2015 campaign announcement at Trump Tower, he boasted, “If you remember, from the day I came down the escalator until the end of the primaries, I was in the number-one position. I was center stage every debate. And, you know, nobody came close.”
Trump actually polled near the bottom of the then twelve-candidate Republican primary field when he first joined the race in mid-June 2015. But he became the clear GOP front runner within several weeks, and no other candidate ever decisively claimed that mantle from him.
Trump appeared to be following Biden’s early days on the campaign trail closely. At one point, he mocked the former vice president for last week mistakenly referring to Margaret Thatcher instead of the current British prime minister, Theresa May. Biden quickly corrected himself, calling it a “Freudian slip.”
“Is that a good front runner? I don’t know. That was a beauty,” Trump said.
He suggested that he doesn’t see his other Democratic rivals as serious threats. “It seems that many of them aren’t registering with, you know, the public,” Trump said. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), he added, “seems to be going in the wrong direction.”
Asked specifically about South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Trump was dismissive.
“Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States,” he said, comparing Buttigieg to the iconic boyish Mad Magazine cartoon character.
Asked by POLITICO in San Francisco on Friday night to respond to Trump’s new nickname, Buttigieg said : “I’ll be honest. I had to Google that. I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It’s kind of funny, I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal.”
In the 15-minute interview, which stemmed from POLITICO’s inquiries for a separate story, the president touched on North Korea, his former campaign aide David Bossie, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoena to his son, his view of Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani’s upcoming trip to Ukraine.
Trump again expressed frustration that the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to testify as part of the panel’s ongoing investigation into 2016 Russian election interference. But he said he had not spoken to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the panel’s chairman, who has come under fire from some Republicans for signing off on the subpoena.
“I won the state of North Carolina and frankly had another Republican won [the primary], they would not have won the state. I have a great relationship to that state. So I was very surprised,” Trump said. “[Burr] came in, ran along with me. I didn’t know him well but he ran along with me. So yeah, I was very surprised to see that.”
The president also gently criticized his former deputy campaign manager and longtime friend David Bossie, who has been accused of using his political group to scam Republican voters out of millions of dollars for personal financial gain under the guise of supporting Trump’s re-election.
“I would be disappointed in David if he did that,” he said, later adding: “I would be disappointed if everything wasn’t on the up and up.”
Trump’s 2020 campaign issued a sharply-worded statement on Tuesday saying that it “condemns any organization that deceptively uses the President’s name, likeness, trademarks, or branding and confuses voters.” The campaign encouraged authorities “to investigate all alleged scam groups for potential illegal activities.”
Trump said he has not spoken to Bossie about the subject.
In a statement, Bossie said, “For 15 years we have scrupulously complied with every campaign law and regulation that exists. The accusations are false and personally offensive to me.” He added that he has “worked tirelessly to support President Trump and his agenda and I am not going to let smears from old enemies on the left stop me.”
Even amid his apparent anger at one close ally, Trump hinted at a softened view towards a former one: Steve Bannon, whom Trump excommunicated last year after the strategist was quoted in Michael Wolff’s incendiary book about the White House, “Fire and Fury.”
“Well, I always liked Steve and I mean the last seven months or eight months, I mean, you can’t have nicer statements stated about yourself than the things he’s been saying about me,” Trump said, adding later, “You’ve seen what he’s said on the various shows and you’ve seen what he’s written and it’s very nice and I appreciate it. But I haven’t spoken to Steve in a while.”
Trump also touched on the business activities in Ukraine of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, a subject that has drawn scrutiny among conservatives in recent days and which Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says should be investigated further. As vice president, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine’s government to oust a top anti-corruption official who had reportedly investigated a Ukrainian energy company in which Hunter Biden had a financial interest, although no evidence has emerged that Joe Biden was acting to assist his son, and it is not clear that the official was probing the company at the time.
Trump has also alleged that Ukraine’s government aided Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign by releasing damaging information about his since-jailed campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who made millions doing political work in the country.
Some Democrats have expressed concern that Trump could direct the Justice Department to pursue the allegations, which they call a diversion from Russia’s systematic 2016 election meddling, and warn that it would be an abuse of power for political purposes.
When asked whether he would consider directing Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the Bidens, as some Democrats fear, Trump said he had not spoken to Barr about the issue. But he left open the possibility, saying “certainly it would be an appropriate thing to” discuss with Barr.
“Certainly it is a very big issue and we’ll see what happens. I have not spoken to him about it. Would I speak to him about it? I haven’t thought of that. I mean, you’re asking me a question I just haven’t thought of,” he said, noting it “could be a very big situation” for Biden.
“Because he’s a Democrat it’s about 1/100 the size of the fact that if he were a Republican, it would be a lot bigger,” he alleged.
Trump also said that he plans to speak to Rudy Giuliani about his personal attorney’s imminent plans to go to Ukraine to reportedly encourage the Ukrainian president to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation and Hunter Biden’s role on the board of directors of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.
“I will speak to him about it before he leaves. I’m just curious about that,” he said, adding that he has “not spoken to him at any great length” about it.
On foreign policy, the president, who once bragged about the cessation of North Korean missile tests during his presidency, downplayed the significance of North Korea’s recent decision to launch a pair of short-range missiles.
“They’re short-range and I don’t consider that a breach of trust at all. And, you know, at some point I may. But at this point no,” he said. “These were short-range missiles and very standard stuff. Very standard.”
Trump added that he might eventually lose faith in his friendly relationship with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator. “I mean it’s possible that at some point I will, but right now not at all,” he said.
Minutes before the interview, Trump tweeted that trade talks with China would continue, suggesting that negotiators were unable to reach a compromise. Unprompted, the president marveled about the instant effect his China-related tweet had on stock prices.
“It seems to be having quite an impact on the market. I looked — the market was down,” he said. “Now I think it’s up 181.44. So, it shows you what happens.”
Carla Marinucci contributed to this report.
Our Best Gifts for Mother’s Day
Clo’s Voice Our Best Gifts for Mother’s Day
When you think of someone special in your life, 9 times of out of 10 you’ll think of your Mom. That’s why when it comes to Mother’s Day, we deserve to give them something special. Whether you are miles away from your mom this Mother’s Day, or right next door, these gifts will be sure to make her smile. Studio3 Beats
Studio3 Wireless noise-canceling headphones offers Beats proprietary Pure ANC technology, incredible comfort and high quality sound, making Studio3 perfect for busy moms who deserve time to relax on their free time. These wireless over-ear headphones brings the best audio experience to the noise-canceling headphone market. Beats Studio3 Wireless maintains the sleek design of its predecessor, Beats Studio Wireless, while featuring redesigned acoustic components and an upgraded manufacturing process for premium ergonomic comfort and optimal noise isolation. Colors include: White, Red, Blue, Matte Black, Defiant Black-Red, Crystal Blue, Desert Sand, Midnight Black and Shadow Gray. Razer Quartz Edition
Perfect for all gaming Mom’s out there, Razer’s Quartz Pink color laptop and accessories are sure to delight. With a humble lineup that includes the Blade Stealth 13 laptop and a handful of accessories to choose from, it’s the beginning of a ‘pink phenomenon’. The accessories include the mouse and oversized mouse pad, keyboard with opto-mechanical switches, multi-platform wired gaming headset and stand, and a compact mic to elevate your streaming to processional heights. The Quartz family is sure to make any office setting pop with these vibrant pink colors and best performing hardware. Lifearound2angels Bath Bombs
Made with love and passion, Lifearound2angels isn’t just another bath bomb. Founder and Mother of 2 Ningzi, was on a mission to make bathtime fun and healthy for her 2 angels. She found that many of the bath bombs on the market contained chemicals and unhealthy ingredients. Her recipe contains all natural ingredients including Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Olive oil, Coconut Oil, Epson Salt and Kaoling clay that are gentle for all skin types and easily absorbed to leave skin silky soft. Give these stunning gems as a gift or treat yourself to a little me-time. Philips Sonicare
Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean toothbrush is designed for those who want an effective, yet gentle clean. Featuring unique pressure sensors, Sonicare ProtectiveClean offers three models that alert users when they are applying too much pressure, for a brushing experience that delivers healthier gums, cleaner teeth and a whiter smile. Each model features advanced sonic technology, with 31,000 brushstrokes per minute. Philips Sonicare’s unique sonic sweeping motion is carefully calibrated to create gentle microbubbles that reach deep between teeth to provide an exceptional clean feeling. Zenergy iHome
The iHome Zenergy line creates a calming environment for sleep, or an energizing atmosphere for waking by using an engaging combination of light and sound therapy. This bedside sleep therapy machine features 10 different sound therapy tracks designed to calm your mind, lower your breathing and heart rate, and prepare your body for sleep. You can also select from a total of 11 different 1000 Lux, full-color light therapy and decor lighting modes including 3 designed to align your circadian rhythm at night and 3 to improve your energy levels and mood when you wake up. It also features four different audio sources: built-in sound therapy, Bluetooth wireless audio streaming from your mobile device, FM radio and Aux-in jack. SodaStream
The Fizzi One Touch offers consumers a superior user-experience and cutting-edge design and is available in a variety of colors for mom, like pink, teal and red! It offers three levels of carbonation for perfectly customized drinks. The Fizzi One Touch comes with a stainless steel SodaStream bottle and a 60L carbonator and includes the patented SodaStream snap and lock system that makes placing the bottle in the machine even more convenient and easy. SodaStream also has a variety of flavor drops that make for perfect boosts to your bubbly water. Plus, the kids will love it too! FABRIQ Chorus
The Chorus smart speaker combines the voice activated Alexa service powered by far-field voice recognition with high-quality sound and multi-room connectivity. Use your voice to control Chorus including asking Alexa to play music, check the weather, place calls and more. Alexa can hear voice requests even when the music is playing and can be activated using the awake word “Alexa.” Chorus has a dedicated charging dock for convenient power and can also be controlled via the FABRIQ app, available on Apple’s iTunes store and Google Play. It also comes in a variety of colors and patterns for your everyday needs. TCL 4K UHD TV
TCL, a leader in home entertainment offers their stunning 4K Roku TVs at an affordable price. This 4-Series 43” TV is perfect for a secondary television in the home. It delivers crisp picture performance while bringing all your favorite content through a simple, intuitive interface in a sleek modern design. Switch through your favorite broadcast TV, streaming channels, gaming console, and other devices quick and easily. Plus with the built in Roku you can choose from thousands of streaming channels that feature your favorite movies and episodes plus live sports, news, music, kids and family, food, science and tech, fitness, foreign language, and so much more. Ninja Foodi
The Ninja Foodi is no ordinary product, think of this as your first step into a whole new world of recipe possibilities that can only be unlocked with the Ninja Foodi. This two in one pressure cooker and air fryer can have family dinner on the table in less than an hour! Use the pressure cooker to lock in juices, then finish with a crisp. When you combine pressure cooking and air frying, you get the best of both worlds — meals that are juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Take the Foodi challenge and cook proteins, grains, and your favorite veggies at the same time to create flavorful, multi-textured meals in one pot. Malouf Z Pillow
Malouf’s new ActiveDough foam pillow offers the quick-response feel and superior support of latex, plus the just-right cushion and contouring relief of memory foam for a unique feel that is loved by sleepers of all styles and preferences. Their lavender pillow is infused with all-natural lavender oil, and the pillow promotes a soothing sleep environment that uplifts the body and mind. The lavender pillow is perfect for busy moms, who just want a relaxed night sleep. They also offer a variety of other scents like peppermint and chamomile. For every pillow purchased, the Malouf Foundation will make a donation to support child survivors of sex trafficking because we believe every child deserves freedom, justice, dignity, and a safe home. Woven Linens
One can’t buy pillows without some new linens! Malouf has a wide selection of their Woven Linens and their Rayon From Bamboo Sheets will make slipping into bed a definite treat. The porous composition of the rayon from bamboo fibers makes the fabric more breathable and temperature regulating than other fabrics. These sheets are antibacterial and resistant to odors. The universal fit design is sewn with deep pockets and an ultra-thick, full-length elastic that produces a secure, smooth fit on most mattress depths. These bamboo sheets are available in a variety of cute bright colors, to match any bedroom decor. Bath & Body Works
As one of our most favorable beauty brands, Bath & Body Works has been making popular body care and home fragrance products for over 20 years. Their variety is ever changing to stay fresh and current, while their signature staples have been well known favorites that have stood the test of time. What started as a humble collection of lotions, body sprays and bath soaps and gels has evolved to include a vast array of candles, scented wall plugins, specialized hand and foot care products and fragrances. They offer a wonderful variety of gift sets which make it the perfect thing to present mom with this Sunday. Ruggable
Offering a wide selection of popular designs and genre so you never have to sacrifice style for washability, Ruggable offers rugs that last and keeps moms happy and stress-free! These washable, waterproof and stain resistant rugs are perfect for busy family homes. All the chemicals and products used on the rugs are non toxic and considered wearable (like clothing) therefore let the kids wander. Each rug has a custom non-slip rug pad that consists of polyester (95%) made from recycled fiber. The rugs offered come in a variety of colors, styles and sizes to match every home. No7 Line Correcting Booster Serum
This clinically proven, targeted booster serum is No7’s most concentrated line correcting serum and has been the talk at Mom’s meetups! It has been designed to be applied directly to lines and wrinkles to deliver fast, visible results where you want them most. Proven to visibly reduce the appearance of even the deepest, most stubborn lines and wrinkles. In 1 week women saw a visible reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles on the forehead and around the eyes. It can also be used as a booster by mixing into your usual moisturizer, eye cream or foundation to supercharge them with line smoothing power. Nokia 3.1 Plus
The Nokia 3.1 Plus is every mom’s sidekick. Thanks to the specialized sensor for rear depth imaging, the Nokia 3.1 Plus lets you take professional studio style shots of the kids. With a two-day battery life between charges, moms will be able to muscle through soccer tournaments, road trips and long days at the beach. As an added bonus, its beautifully sculpted polycarbonate body keeps its color even when scratched, delivering a seamless, pure design made to handle accidental drops while out and about. The Nokia 3.1 is available exclusively for Cricket Wireless, which is the perfect wireless plan for the whole family with their fantastic deal of 4 lines unlimited for only $100. Share this:
Tales From Old North Quincy
Monday, May 6, 2019 Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of “King Of The Beats” Jack Kerouac-Four Dreams-Finding Whistler’s Mother-Gazing On The Girl With The Bette Davis Eyes-Following Allan Ginsberg’s Flowers-Searching For The Father We Never Knew By Lance Lawrence [Apparently, although site manager Greg Green, the guy who gives out the assignments, has never said so in so many words, I am the “go to” person this year as we commemorate the 50 th anniversary of the passing of the most well-known, some say “King” of the Beats who flourished mainly in the 1940s and 1950s, mill town Lowell’s own Ti Jean (Jack) Kerouac. Although there has been a fair amount of speculation around the collective water cooler about why I am now doing my fourth different introduction to various archival writings by others over the forty some year history of this publication both as hard copy and now for the past decade or so on-line nobody has a clue to why that is so. Part of that is that they too wanted to write some introductory material giving their slants on fifty years without two-million-word Jack or to update pieces, mainly book reviews and “how Jack influenced me” stuff. Part, and this is the part I do know about and am telling here for the first time to fend off the charges of favoritism, I actually met Jack a few times when he was living down in Saint Petersburg with his third wife Stella and his beloved (and hated too it was that kind of relationship) toward the end of his life. In those days he was drinking heavily, and I was too, that before the twelve-step program saved my sobriety and my life. We met, quite by accident, in Jimmy Jack’s Tavern which I do not believe is still there at least I couldn’t find it under that name when I Google d it, since I had stepped in for my early day drinking and there he was getting ready to do his serious early day drinking. Since it was early and since there was some kind of unspoken and assumed bond between early day drinkers we started to chat. Got animated when he found out that I had grown up in Chelmsford the next town over from Lowell and were able to identify places we had mutually been to and other local news. Above all we spoke almost in reverence about various youthful exploits along the mighty Merrimac River which drove our imaginations then and later, especially for him, as writers. In those days I was not writing for any publication or had any assignments along those lines, was actually doing a short-hand version of what Jack had done in the late 1940s and chronicled in his famous On The Road but mainly drinking my blues away stumbling and tumbling down the road to some next place where I might stick, might make myself feel better. After a few days I left Saint Pete and drifted, I think, to Key West or maybe Miami. Later when I heard that Jack had cashed his check I, not knowing and probably not caring if I had known, that the cause of death was from complications from that lifelong drinking I lifted a shot of Johnny Walker Red whiskey in his memory. How Greg Green found out that I had met Jack Kerouac and from there assumed that I had profound things to say or that having met him should be the “go to” guy based on that flimsy premise I don’t know. Now that I have spilled the beans maybe Greg can speak to that. I am happy to do these introductions whatever the reason but over the past several months that I have been working and reviewing pieces I have had to think through how Jack Kerouac has influenced me. Certainly not as a drinking buddy, the short time we passed our time but maybe style of writing or dropping certain verbal bombshells which he had a habit of doing. That remains to be seen as we go through the year-long commemoration. What is clear already is that the Beat beat was only tangential to me growing up for I was just a little too young to be influenced directly by the movement. The hipsters, grifters, grafters, wanderers, pyschos, holy goofs and that crowd were not around our town (by the way the just listed crowd if truth be known have had progeny who still exist on the far margins of society down where the hipsters and their ilk hold forth on high holy days and remember). Beat, hard non-commercial Beat flourished that is to say before my own growing up, coming of age time, the 1960s and hence the devotion to rock and roll rather than be-bop jazz, folk music lyrics rather than the immense output of poetry put out by the likes of mad monk Allan Ginsberg and the crowd. But enough of this for this is about Ti Jean Kerouac and what might have been not me. Although I do wonder how Greg Green will respond to my finding out he knew I met Jack in sullen days for both of us. Larry Lawrence] Ti Jean wondered sitting on Pawtucketville silts listening to the rushing rock-strewn Merrimack coming by, wondered like maybe those old-time Dutch sailors sighting that green fresh breast of land that would become Long Island as they entered the sound, another waterway a metaphor for Jack life, and found a new world unspoiled for that fifteen minutes before they laid anchor and claim on the cheap. That wonder drove Jack boy, all fourteen- year old Jack boy so not worried by red dress Paula Cole coming hither Friday night dates or that damn Maggie down by the almost Chelmsford dream side of the river, damn already the river is in play with her Irish braids and that god damn Bible between her knees to wonder if James was it MacNeil Abbott or Abbott MacNeil Whistler sat beside this same river thinking about his own Mere, his mother and how he could do justice to that forlorn Puritan face which razzled him with blacks, browns and greys, as if to mock the very idea of mother. Hell, James, he would never be called Jimmy like the other boys once he “did” his mother in those woe begotten colors decided he would use the old dame, and she was an old dame to star in his various studies of colors and only philistines would dare to call the work some mother lode draught. This is where the story gets interesting, although we know that Jack was not bothered just then by come hither girls in red dresses or Bible-kneed Irish girls since he had, playing hooky, crept into his holy of holy spots in the cubicle at the school library gone beyond the wonder of those muddy splat riverbanks where he first wondered the wonder akin to those Dutch sailors seeking his own fresh green breast of land, the land of the mind. Wondering how to stop wondering Jack picked up a biography of James Whistler complete with mother on the front except she was painting title called some study in black and white, something like that by one Lancelot Grey who Jack would later find out was the central figure in what he would wind up calling the pre-war art cabal that was attempting to “dress up,” read, protect American art and artists from the onslaught of European critics who basically call that art “folk art” meaning show the bastards the door and maybe get them shown in Peoria or better Grand Island but stay away from European shores. Grey’s take on Whistler, taking the American born but life-long ex-patriate in was that he never left the American shores and stuff like that. What interested Jack though was not that art cabal stuff (art cabal a term he would not know until later when landing in New York he came face to face with the denizens of that cabal through various Student Art League girlfriends and others met in Village garrets when garrets were there and not in Soho). But that was after the war (World War II in case a younger reader has happened on this piece) when New York told cheapjack art Europe to fuck off, to step back and various abstraction movements were all the rage. Just then Grey delved into Whistler’s various non-mother pieces (than mother painting an iconic come on since back then only the art cabal knew other paintings and the publisher insisted that that painting be on the front). The most interesting one, and one that seemed to contradict what the art cabal was doing to protect American artists, was a painting called The White Girl (now in the National Gallery but then in private hands). Jack was fascinated by the young woman portrayed who he learned from Grey had been one of Whistler’s mistresses. The title intrigued and confused him since somebody else called it that study in white gag that had handcuffed poor Mrs. Whistler when it suited her James. Jack would wonder, would have deep chaste Roman Catholic dreams (some say that would by his writings really always be his dreams, his Jesus-sweated dreams) and wonder what it was like to have been James’ girlfriend, and wondered too whether James wondered that he would paint his mistresses to help pay the rent. Jack would later laugh about how many girls he would con into paying the rent, walking the streets if necessary or going in some café back room to play the flute for the night’s booze and dope money and so he had kindred feelings for Brother James somewhat akin to the bandit prince Gregory Corso. But at fourteen in some library cubicle in Lowell mill-town hard by the Merrimack all he could think of was how long he would have to wonder about lots of things, too many things when the world was moving way to quickly but he would always say with pride that James was from Lowell and leave it at that. Even when he found out that James’ white girl was like his Mexican junkie- whore Tristessa. By then though that fresh green breast wonder had hardened into funk, dunk and drunk. Jack popcorn for eyeballs sitting in the last row of the orchestra section of the old Majestic Theater off of Bridge Street across from the offices of the Lowell Sun waiting as the screen heated up after some very ordinary news of the week reels and an off-color cartoon which he never did get even after watching several times over the next few Saturday matinee double-feature week. The films changed every Friday but Mr. Le Blanc cheapened up his operation by re-running those silly cartons built for ten-years olds with no brains but silly to a strapping boy of sixteen who actually took girls to the shows. (Le Blanc also sold stale popcorn with so much salt laid in it would make your eyelids curl and watered down the tonic, old-fashioned New England word for soda, so much it might as well have been water and even made boys like Jack with strong kidneys ran to restrooms frequently.) Of course, that was a totally different proposition, that messing with girls stuff that he had pretty much figured out by sixteen with plenty of street advise some of it recklessly dangerous and no, zero, parent advise but that was when you asked a girl if she wanted to sit in the orchestra section or go up to the heavy-breathing pitch dark moaning balcony. If the former that would be a last date (one time he left the girl in the front lobby to fend her herself on the way home while he went off to Renoir’s Ice Cream Shop with Even Stephen and Dizzy Izzy). This day, this Thursday afternoon first show skipping afternoon classes was different when Jack was all business trying to figure some stuff out that was going to appear on the satin silk screen. Then it, no, she started. All fresh as a new born daisy fending off some sidewalk Lothario, if only in Jack’s imagination, really only some lug like a million lugs he knew in Lowell High School and who if he hadn’t been on a mission this afternoon could have stood in front of the high school at close of day and counted the number of lugs from the class of 1939 carousing out the door some he could name by name. So, no this lug was going nowhere, was getting nothing except the desert breezes from this girl. Jack swore the girl with the Bette Davis eyes after beating the clown off with a car jack sat in her dust-filled private reading spot reading some French poet from the fourteenth century. Jack pressed his popcorn eyeballs to see book jacket cover and his heart beat a mile a minute once he saw that she, Gabby let’s give her a name, was reading his hero prince bandit poet Francois Villon, like him a Breton when that meant something before the wave of diasporas which led angelized angel-headed Kerouacs to the shores of the Saint Lawrence River and downwardly mobile fates stripped the clan of their respective dignities. Yes, Villon the prince of thieves who Jack had discovered in that broken- down school library where he hid out when he could not deal with bullshit chemistry classes or some such subject around the time that he read that book by Lancelot Grey about that pimp daddy, holy goof (first use of the term “holy goof” came from reading Grey) James Whistler the artist who kept himself from the Thames and watery graves by selling his paintings or more usually “selling” his mistresses to make the rent money when times were tough. He still loved Whistler (although he could only mock a guy who had to practically handcuff his mother to the chair to get her to stand still for what he called a study in black and white, something like that) if only because he was Lowell, was a native son and that counted a lot for Jack then even if James was not a Breton. (Funny later he would go through seven kinds of hell with his own mother before telling her to kiss off.) But Villon was a legitimate bandit-prince who hung with the lumpen outside the guarded moats ready to pounce one minute on the next jackroll victim (some historians have speculated that Villon and his scumbags invented the jackroll, taking a bag of nails or coins if they had any wrapping them in a small cloth and under cover of darkness bopping some old lady or drunken sot for their dough). A lost art that Jack would use more than once in Times Square when some pansy hipster tried to do tricks on him and he bopped him for hot dog money at Howard Johnson’s stuff like that, yes, a lost but helpful art for those who lived outside the law, for those whose only road was the road. And there she was the girl with the Bette Davis eyes all dewy even as a desert dust storm was brewing just outside the Gates of Eden reading Villon in French (her mother was French a catch for her woe begotten father during World War I service in France with the American Expeditionary Force who came back to Eden saw the dust and stone wood and left on the next train with some Singer sewing machine salesman with four quarters and a quart of wine). That Garden of Eden business a gag, a gag of sorts since the diner that he father owned, no, really her grandfather who was getting too old to run the place but too ornery to let his deadbeat son who couldn’t keep a French whore, Gramp’s words, in the middle of the desert from running away with the next time that came by with long pants on was just outside the main entrance to the Petrified Forest (couldn’t later a guy like Allan Ginsberg or even novice poet Dean Moriarty have a field day with that idea as the 1930s was tearing America, tearing the world apart, making the world turn in on itself). The gag was that Gramps an old Kentucky coalminer until he was thirteen and figured out that he would rather not die in Appalachia with the muskrats had headed out of the hills and hollows as fast as he could. Head out to California where he had heard had streets paved of gold and young girls ready to give whatever they had to give. But see Gramps and his forbears were sitting folk, were tied to the tired land so long that they would sit down anywhere where that didn’t have to pretend to seek prosperity. So Gramps stopped at the Petrified Forest once he ran into some Nevada Jane heading east after busting out heading west who worked at the diner and who played the flute for him until she too ran off with some calico salesman. Gramps just stayed put and married the first woman who smiled at him (Gabby’s grandma) and that ended the road west in that generation. So poor rattled and pestered Gabby was torn between sweet perfume dreams of Left Bank Paris cafes and that endless rock-hard dust. Then out of the blue some pretty hobo came walking up the road to the diner all dusty and road worn, a hobo whose name turned out to be Leslie Howard (that would be important later to Gabby if meaningless to Jack when she inherited his life insurance policy but that was later long after Jack had gathered in the wanderlust that set that first Breton to Canadian shores and that fucking raging Saint Lawrence River of no returns) Listen up, Jack did, this Leslie Howard was no stumble bum like half the hoboes, tramps, bums, and there are social distinctions among the brethren who were running around the country stopping at railroad jungle camps or sleeping under unkempt bridges and arroyos but a real live itinerant intellectual who had when he had seen the first turnings of the world inward in those times got the hell out of Europe as fast as he could (he would be found later when Gabby looked for next of kin to see if anybody would contest the life insurance policy to have been Jewish not a good thing to be in Europe in those times to be a “rootless cosmopolitan”) This Howard, let’s call him that since it is as good as any other and who knows what he real name was if he was on the run bedazzled Gabby from minute one leaving that lug gas jockey out to dry with the trees. Knew his Villon cold, knew that he too was a bandit prince who hung outside the moats with the lumpen. Right then Jack’s already strong flight of fantasy knew that he was kindred, here was guy who loved to read but could not settle down with at crazy-mixed up world pounding tattoos in his fevered brain. If anybody had been near Jack in that darkened orchestra section fit only for one-date girls and sullen adults they would have heard him gasp every time this Howard said anything of import to Gabby. Jack’s fevered mind started sketching things out, read like crazy, write like crazy and keep on the move, always on the move. What Jack would call later in one of his lesser but more philosophical books the quest, the grail hunt, the breaking from the holy goofs that keep you penned in and unfree, that holy goof a well-worn word in Jack talk. For now though just the germ of a plan. They say that Bretons are not only are hearty but also headstrong and Jack sensed in Gabby just such characteristics even though she was nothing but some dirt farmer Okie, Arkie descendent. He would forever search for his Gabby but never find her, and frankly that search was just one among a number of searches later. This guy Leslie, what made him tick, why Jack was drawn to him like lemmings from the sea was more problematic. The Villon, hobo road warrior philosopher king part was straight up. He would have a million sleepless night visions of being out on some tramp road in say Winnemucca or Yuma facing no dough and no food or water and glad-tiding himself into soft spot, some soft bed if that was the way the thing played out. Pearl-diving, you know washing dishes for his meal in some such Garden of Eden diner somewhere if necessary just to stay on the road one more day. That part held romance, held him in thrall. What Jack couldn’t figure out especially since the girl with the Bette Davis eyes was totally smitten by him and his wayward ways against the lugs, demented grandpas, jelly-fish fathers and abandoned down some Seine River mother not unlike the Merrimack always close to his dreams especially that rocky crest around the old Lowell Textile Institute why this modern day troubadour had so little regard for himself that he would let a bum like the notorious Duke Mantee, yes, that Duke who was the scourge of the West just then put two random slugs into his body. He tries, and would continue to try later to understand the idea of the retreat of the intellectuals, that the time of the caveman was making a reappearance after so much spent trying to come up from the mud and slime. Backwards. Damn, that bothered Jack, would bother him until his own dying breath when he turned on the intellectuals with a vengeance. The now dank dark movie hall left him utterly perplexed about what would happen to him when he had to face his own road west. Outside the movie theater, actually he had been in the lobby when he spied her and then hailed her, Jack stopped that come hither Paula Cole and asked her if she would like to go to the movies that next Friday night when the films changed. When she answered yes Jack now a veteran of the ploy asked Paula -orchestra or balcony? Answer: “don’t be silly I would not have accepted if we weren’t going to the balcony.” With that he would put the fate of Howard in the back of his mind. First things first. Jack brought the Tokay, the cheap wine of the day that got him through the day and the only other wine beside kosher Mogen David mad monk (although just then demurely so) Allan Ginsberg, hereafter Monk, would drink to set himself up to read some sliver of a poem. This night expecting a bunch of people to of all things a North Beach (San Fran) converted garage gallery something the Monk would put an end to guys like T.S. Eliot, bum of the month Nazi-symp Ezra Pound and about fifty other guys and twenty other gals including his high school prose father. Would burn their old-fashioned words now of no account on a pile of burnt offerings, a pile of faggots (he would not learn until later that word’s common origins use to destroy brethren fellow homosexuals). Would get the world well, for a minute, in search of some fatherless compadre, in search of the father Jack claimed he had never known, and not he alone in the welter of great depressions and slogging through war. Maybe in the end they were searching for Father Death who knows. Jack passed the wine, passed all understanding before that search was consummated. Some guy, some guy who claims that his mother had worked at City Lights Bookstore in those days and had had an affair with the poet Phillip Larkin and had brought the dago red and him to the reading. Claimed to know Jack, or maybe it was the Monk in the old days, in the days when they raged with so many words they couldn’t keep enough Woolworth 5 &10 notebooks in flannel shirts or golf scorecard pencils ready wrote this, second hand about being present at the creation, second hand. At this far remove it is hard to tell fact from fiction, tell who is bullshitting and who has the goods especially since virtually all the background characters are gone, some long gone. Make of that what you will. I have seen the best poet of the generation before mine, no, let me start over, I have seen a universal max daddy poet speaking some truths to put old Homer and freaking staid T.S. Eliot in the shade. Starting off by declaring that he had seen that the best minds of his generation, guys like brother in soul Kerouac, be-bop Charlie Parker, Phil Larkin when he was sober, Johnny Spain when off the needle and doing cold turkey and of course the daddy them all one Carl Solomon turn to mush. Turned out in the barren wilderness, not the friendly desert-scrapes heading west on lonely Greyhound buses or Tourist Bureau hang-ups wilderness out pass Butte or Boise but what a novelist named Nelson Algren who called the shots and gave many a troubled youth the keys to the fixer man and wellness called the neon wilderness, called that place where the bright lights of the city blinded a proper man (or woman) some junkie Frankie Machine haven with a wife he hated and a girlfriend who couldn’t stick with him when he was on the junk. That neon beast from which no one returned except for quick stays in safe haven mental asylums (called ironically funny farms but even the Monk, whose own mother had her share of sorrows in such places could find no humor in such designations). Get this, no, let me start again against the cold nose of my sister filled heart. Saw, he the Monk okay in case I lose my train of thought passing through Salt Lake City and thoughts of Joseph Smith’s grand hustle taking a bunch of farmers from burned over lands to the searing sun of the western depot. Saw the same Negro streets Jack, and one time Jack and he when he, Jack was looking for some rough trade sailors just off the China Seas pierce earring trail saw around Blue Hill Avenue and Dudley Street blank, 125 th Street blank, Dearborn Street blank, MacArthur Boulevard blank, Central Avenue blank, Cielo Street in Tijuana blank, Plaza del Mayo, Montezuma revenge Mexico blank, and wasted in the sweated fetid humid Thunderbird-lushed night dreaming of pink Cadillacs and stony-faced fixer men getting wise by the hour on Carl’s ancient fears. (And, this is funny or so the winos and every hobo, vagrant, escapee, drifter and grafter yelling out in unison thought so “what is the word-Thunderbird-what is the price forty twice.” Ready to jackroll some senior citizen lady for the price, for fucking eighty cents which any self-respecting junkie could cadge in two minutes even in Cielo Street, Tijuana and that is a hard peso to drill,-ready to commit mayhem at Park Street subway stations for their “boy,” to be tamped by girl but I will be discrete since the Feds might raid the place sometime looking for the ghost of Trigger Burke who eluded them for a very long time. (Trigger who captured Jack’s imagination and the Monk’s but here is the weird part Carl’s too who started strutting like him too after the prince of bandit-poets Corso showed him how to do that slinky swagger on the last visit before the blade at Sandhill). Thought that those angel-headed hipsters hearing choruses of angels strumming their noiseless wings, those cold as ice in a man’s veins hep cats hanging around Times, Lafayette, Dupont, Harvard squares (you can fill in your own squares, square the Monk laughed and Jack hee-hawed) crying in pools of blood coming out of the wolves-stained sewers around the black corner would never stop bleating for their liquor. Would not stop until they got popular and headed for the sallow lights of Harvard Square where they, those angel-headed hipsters in case you (and Carl) forgot hustled young college students, young impressionable college students green as grass whose parents had had their best minds, those hallowed students’ mines, okay, wasted in the turbid streets of south Long Island (not the West Egg of Gatsby’s dream out of Fitzgerald’s fresh green breast of land to stir even sullen rough trade Dutch sailors looking for whips and cuts, conquering everything in sight like any other poor-boy arriviste with too much money and not enough imagination and not East Egg of the fervid elites but any-town, Levitt-town of those who would escape to Boston or Wisconsin to face the angel of death, that angel frightening even Monk when Carl was not around to anchor his brain. Up front and say no go, pass, under luminous moons which light up sparks and say to that candid world which could have given a fuck hard times please come again no more. Here is the beauty of the green as grass hustle working fast to get enough to fix that jones. Dangle some college guy, maybe with a girl, shy, with dreams of hard-core liquor or a well-twisted joints to loosen her up and her fragile come hither virginity (reminding Jack of that Paula Coe who played the flute for him more than one time in that Majestic Theater balcony some hardcore Friday night and the Monk, searching for some blue-eyed Adonis, settling for some pimpled has been teenager seeking his own father dreams). Lay out the story-kid your booze and something for me. Done. Later, a big bottle wrapped tight in a paper bag. Trick, a very thin brew of whiskey split and cash for him to get himself well. Oh the hipster cons which would have made even the Monk laugh. The Monk saw hipsters cadging wine drinks from sullen co-eds staying out too late in the Harvard Square night who turned out to be slumming from some plebian colleges across the river maybe good Irish girls from frail Catholic parishes with rosaries in their fair-skinned hands and a novena book between their knees who nevertheless has Protestant lusts, strong Protestant lusts busting down the shrines to Immaculate Conception Virgin Marys pretty painted by guys like Tintoretto and marching to the church door just behind Martin Luther and his bag of lusts and Salvation Army clothing in their pallid hearts but unrequited. Here’s how-they those sullen salty Irish girls, not all redheads but close would arrive at the Café Lana with ten bucks and their virginity and leave with both leaving some guy with dreams of salty sucking blowjobs walking out the backdoor and doing the whack job behind the dumpster –a waste of precious fluids and according to Norman Mailer who would have known from his perch down in Provincetown when the mix of homosexuals and straight, except those lusty lonely Portuguese fisherman Marsden Hartley loved to paint (and to love) the waste of world-historic fucks which would product the best minds of the next generation all dribbled away. You already know about what you need to know about Protestant girls with their upfront Protestant lusts although they would not be caught dead, or alive, in Sally splendor although they certainly could play the penny whistle and damn those world historic fucks. Maybe tasty Jewish girls from the shtetl not in East or West Egg who flocked to the other side of the river and gave Irish guys who previously had dribbled their spunk behind dumpsters after losing out to ten bucks and virginity in tack tickey-tack Catholic girls who refused to give that head that would have brought some of the best minds some freaking relief (better not say fucking relief because that would be oxymoronic). Maybe some off-center sullen fair-skinned and blonded Quaker, Mennonite, Primitive Baptist or Brethren of the Common Life kind of Protestant girls, like I said off-center, who spouted something about one god and no trinities, no god and no trinities and just feel good stuff. All three varieties and yes there were more off-centers but who even knew of Quakers, Mennonites, lusty Amish girls run away from home, Tantric card-wheelers, and fresh- faced red light district sluts who at least played the game straight-played the cash nexus for pure pleasure and maybe to even up some scores. All-Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, yeah, Quakers (fakirs, fakers and Shakers included), the sluts, Mennonites and yes those lusty red-faced Amish runaways all coming together after midnight far from the negro streets, the Monk’s beat and no anachronism like saying black or Afro-American back to those Mister James Crow days, but not far from the all night hustlers and dime store hipsters with their ten-cent cigar store rings and cheap Irish whiskeys bought on the installment plan who converged around the Hayes-Bickford just a seven league jump from the old end of the line dead of night Redline subway stop in order to keep the angel of death at arms’ length. The angel of death a tough bitch to break, and tougher to cross when they deal went down. There to listen until dawn to homosexuality- affixed hungry for the keyhole blast or the running sperm fakir poets, the Monk number one of all the number ones and slamming singsters (to keep up with the gangster, mobster, hipster theme, okay) fresh out of cheapjack coffeehouses where three chords and two-line rhymes repeated in call and response got you all the action you wanted although maybe a little light on the breadbasket sent around to show that you were appreciated. Yeah, now that I think about the matter more closely hard times please come again no more. Saw the angel of death make her appearance one night at the Café Lana and then backstopped the Club Nana to fetch one young thing who warbled like heaven’s own angel. Some Norman Mailer white hipster (read the Partisan Review essay if you don’t get this about all kinds of cultural mishmash and sexual too just ask the Monk when he was in his hungers and not worried about singing some Walt Whitman song about the rotgut of his generation) turned her on to a little sister and then some boy and she no longer warbled. No longer warbled like that angel angle heaven- shamed chorus but did sweet candy cane tricks for high-end businessmen with homely wives or fruitless ones who had given up that sort of “thing” after the third junior had been born and who were ready to make her their mistress if she would just stop singing kumbaya after every fuck like she was still a freaking warbler. A freaking virgin or something instead of “used” goods or maybe good for schoolboys whose older brothers took them to her for their first fling at going around the world, welcome to the brotherhood or maybe some old fart who just wanted to relive his dreams before the booze, the three wives and parcel of kids did him in and then the hustler sent her back to the Club Nana to “score” from the club owner who was connected with Nick the dream doper man, what did Nelson Algren and Frankie Machine call him in dead of night, yes, the fixer man, Christ who would get him- and her well –on those mean angel-abandoned death watch streets. Who knew that one night at the Hayes (everybody called it just that after they had been there one night), one after midnight night where they had that first cup of weak-kneed coffee replenished to keep a place in the scoreboarded night where hari-kara poets dreamed toke dreams, and brought paper-bag wrapped Tokay wines just like Monk’s Jack and some Mister dreamed of fresh-faced singer girls looking for kicks. So please, please, hard times come again no more. I have seen frosted lemon trees jammed against the ferrous night, the night of silly foolish childhood dreams and misunderstanding about the world, the world that that poet spoke of in a teenage dream of indefinite duration about who was to have and who was to have not once those minds were de-melted and made hip to the tragedies of life, the close call with the mental house that awaits us all. Yeah Monk was right even about Carl Solomon and all his sorrows before the knife.
One Book I Wish I Had Read 10 Years Ago (and Why Alyssa Milano Happily Wrote the Foreword)
The biggest and most complex obstacle you will ever have to overcome is your own mind. Overcome that, and you can overcome anything!
Of course, that’s way easier to say than to do, especially when life as you know it starts falling apart…
Just over a decade ago, Marc and I had to deal with several painful life changes. These included:
Losing my brother to suicide Losing a mutual best friend to death Financial unrest following a breadwinning employment layoff Breaking ties with a loved one who repeatedly betrayed us It all happened so quickly, too! The pain of those experiences compounded on one another in quick succession, knocking us down and driving the wind right out of our sails for a couple years straight. At times, we felt like we had absolutely no strength left to push onward.
But, as we navigated our new reality one step at a time—facing the pain instead of distracting ourselves from it—we stumbled across morsels of strength and wisdom that we began to collect and build on. We gradually learned how to catch ourselves in negative states of emotional turmoil, so we could overcome the emotions that had once overcome us. All details aside, we pushed ourselves as hard as we could to take one tiny step every day—one journal entry, one 10-minute workout, one honest conversation, and so forth. It wasn’t easy, but the tiny steps were manageable and we gradually grew stronger.
And with each passing day, we saw more beauty hidden in life’s most painful changes.
You see, the most painful changes in life—even deaths—are simply endings, which are all a necessary part of living. And all endings are necessary for beauty, too—otherwise it’s impossible to appreciate someone or something, because they are unlimited. Limits illuminate beauty—they are reminders that we need to be aware of this beautiful person or situation, and appreciate this beautiful thing called life. Every ending is also a beginning, because while we have lost someone or something special, this ending, like every loss, is a moment of reinvention. Although heartbreaking, it forces us to reinvent our lives, and in this reinvention is an opportunity to experience beauty in new, unseen ways and places. And, of course, every ending is an opportunity to celebrate the beautiful, ever-changing journey we’re on, and to be grateful for what it has showed us and taught us along the way.
Getting to this point of understanding—changing your perspective—again, is far from easy. But it’s honestly worth every bit of effort you can muster, no matter how many times you need to remind yourself.
We all need a reminder sometimes… Because we so easily forget how important it is to face the unexpected losses and painful life changes we’re going to encounter no matter how much we try to avoid them—to face down our pain and negative thinking and leverage it to get back up and take the next step. Yes, we need to be reminded to actually get up and DO the hard things we need to do to be happy again. The things that frighten us. The things others can’t do for us. The things that make the difference between existing and living—between knowing the path and walking the path—between a life of empty promises and defeat and one filled with renewed happiness, possibility and peace.
And that’s why Marc and I wrote our brand new book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs , to be that daily reminder for anyone who’s struggling to change their situation for the better. It’s a dynamic and actionable guide for taking life day by day and focusing on the little things that make a lasting difference. This book represents the culmination of hundreds of hours of work with course students, live event attendees, and lots of one-on-one work with each other, too…
And, here’s why Alyssa Milano happily wrote the foreword… “With the help of Marc and Angel’s hard-won insights, we can always find a way to pick ourselves up, reframe our mindset to see the bigger picture, and take that first step back to happy.” —Alyssa Milano
Yes, that’s a quick snippet of what Alyssa Milano had to say in the foreword to Getting Back to Happy .
But, why did a famous, renowned actress and activist like her decide to write this foreword for a couple of coaches and authors like us?
Perhaps another slightly longer snippet from her foreword will clarify things:
“In my own journey to uncover who I truly am, and to find—and use—my voice for what I believe in, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many kindred spirits along the way, many of them online. Marc and Angel are among the fellow travelers I’ve come to value the most. Their honesty and clarity, and the generous way they share what they’ve learned for themselves, are gifts I’ve truly cherished. Sharing their ideas with others online is a way of paying forward what I’ve learned, in the hope that others will gain some insight and strength, and in turn spread the word even further. The pain of self-doubt and the isolation of modern life can make us feel like we’re the only ones struggling, while everyone else is picture-perfect. That’s why it’s so important to share not just our triumphs but also our setbacks, to “show our work” when we’re in the thick of tough times. Marc and Angel do just that—keeping it real, and creating a community of kindred spirits that gathers together in strength, growing and learning along the way.” —Alyssa Milano
In life our insights are often hard won, as Alyssa points out. And, ten years ago, when Marc and I were desperately struggling after losing two loved ones back-to-back to suicide and illness, we decided to be transparent about our story, our struggles, and our depression. And we also decided to share the tiny daily steps we were taking to cope, to heal, to grow, and ultimately to get our lives back on track. We shared all of this online via Facebook, Twitter, email, and our blog, and Alyssa was one of the people who resonated with our story and followed our journey right from the get-go… because she found personal value in what we were sharing.
And then, she continued to follow our work over the years that followed, primarily because we didn’t stop sharing what we were learning.
As Marc and I have learned—and as you’ve probably encountered too—there’s little doubt that our most important insights come directly from our hardest challenges. But we can also take these insights and pay them forward, sharing them with others in hopes that our insights might shine a light for other people who are struggling down their own paths.
The opportunity to pay forward what we’ve learned inspires us continuously in our work, whether it’s through our blog, our renowned Getting Back to Happy course and coaching, our annual Think Better Live Better conference, our books, and everything else we do. And, it’s also one of the biggest reasons we wrote our newest book, also titled Getting Back to Happy, as you know. Everything we’ve learned in the past decade of coaching and teaching others about how to build a happier life is distilled into this book.
Never before have we put it all in one place like this in such an accessible way.
In fact, here’s a sneak peek of the table of contents, so you can get an idea of what Getting Back to Happy has to offer:
Rituals: Practice Daily What You Want To Manifest Regularly Mindfulness: Ease Out of Busyness and Into Awareness Letting Go: Surrender Attachments that Are Holding You Back Self-Love: Commit to Putting Yourself on Your To-Do List Mornings & Evenings: Establish Control with a Thoughtful Beginning and End to Every Day Perspective: Find Beauty in Life’s Difficulties Situation: Embrace Change and Take Action When Necessary Motivation: Harness Your Inner Drive and Keep Moving Forward Relationships: Foster the Loving Connections You Deserve Happiness: Nurture an Inner and Outer Environment that Fulfills You When we reached out to Alyssa and shared the idea and outline of the book with her, she immediately said “yes” to writing the foreword. Specifically, she said she was “honored to be given the chance to continue paying it forward.”
We’re sincerely excited… Getting Back to Happy is honestly the book we’ve wanted to write ever since we started on this journey, one that began with our personal struggle and evolved into a multifaceted coaching practice that has positively impacted the lives of thousands of amazing people, just like Alyssa.
I sincerely wish I could have read it a decade ago. In many ways, it would have saved me from myself. It absolutely would have saved me from intense periods of darkness that were born primarily from my subconscious attempt to take the easy way out of the painful realities I faced.
So yes, this is a big deal, and we’re excited to share Getting Back to Happy with YOU (which will be officially released this Tuesday). In fact, we’re so excited that we’re also giving away over $50 in bonuses to the first 2,000 blog readers that pre-order the book (including One Day at a Time , our 60-day workbook for implementing rewarding, lifelong rituals, and Daily Reminders We Need to Read Every Morning , with prompts that guide you to start each day in a mindful state, so you can focus and get the right things done). You’ll want to act quickly, though, because we already have 1,907 pre-orders booked as of this morning. 🙂
Order Getting Back to Happy and get your free bonuses right now (use the form here to submit your receipt).
Also, if you haven’t done so already, check out this 2-minute video (the official book trailer):
Above all, what you need to remember is that it’s ultimately your choice…
Yes, it’s your choice.
You are choosing right now.
And if you’re choosing…
to be stuck in the past…
to act like a victim…
to feel insecure…
to feel anger…
to feel hate…
to be naïve…
to ignore your intuition…
to ignore good advice…
to give up…
…then it’s time to choose differently.
But, let me also remind you that you are not alone. Generations of human beings in your family tree have chosen. Human beings around the world have chosen. We all have chosen at one time or another. And we stand behind you now whispering:
Choose to let go.
Choose to be present.
Choose to be positive.
Choose to forgive yourself.
Choose to forgive others.
Choose to see your value.
Choose to see the possibilities.
Choose to find meaning.
Choose to prove you’re not a victim.
Choose to do the hard things you need to do, so you can take a step forward… and then pay it forward. (We show HOW in Getting Back to Happy. )
And of course, if there’s anything else Marc and I can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate to leave a reply below.
PS. Pre-ordering the new book on or before the official release on Tuesday helps us out tremendously. We’d greatly appreciate YOUR SUPPORT today.
PPS. I’m also excited (and pretty darn nervous) to announce that Marc and I will be on NBC’s Megyn Kelly TODAY show Monday, May 21 to support Getting Back to Happy’s release. Tune in if you’re able…
Comments Andrew Sussin says
May 20, 2018 at 6:29 pm
Just ordered it. Keep up the amazing work the two of you are doing! Love that video trailer too. Inspiring!
Reply MelRo Potter says
May 20, 2018 at 7:01 pm
You and Marc’s work helped to change my life! I can’t wait to get this book and host a book club around it! 🙂
Reply Megan says
May 20, 2018 at 7:23 pm
Congrats and good luck with the big media coverage. You will be great because you are both authentic! Just ordered the book on Amazon too. 🙂
Reply Bethany says
May 20, 2018 at 7:37 pm
That’s incredible! You 2 so deserve the spotlight to showcase all the wonderful love, encouragement, & support you give to those truly in need. So happy for you guys! I already pre-ordered the book a few days ago, and I’ll be tuning in to Megyn Kelly. Not a huge fan of her, but a huge fan of you… and that’s what matters this time around. 🙂
Reply Joseph says
May 21, 2018 at 3:25 am
great! looking forward to the new book!
Reply Sandee says
May 21, 2018 at 6:02 am
Congrats on getting the book out this is a huge achievement. Yes
sharing is of huge value, openness the same and the saying that we are all
one is so touted around the place without any thought, the Royal wedding
certainly showed that it is time to change our mindsets, and how
misconstrued and misunderstood the original message has been over the
years of so called evolution – now is the time for real in depth change.
In my book the only real teacher is experience, those who feel it know
it, and learn from it, no other way appears to get trough the hard heads
or ego of man
I sincerely wish for you that the sales go well and bring in the needed
income so you can continue the good work you both do and have done over
Peace, love, blessings and hugs to you both.
Reply JENNIFER SCOTT says
May 21, 2018 at 8:23 am
Just bought the Audiobook to listen on my ride to/from work. Looking forward to it! Please keep us updated with any live appearances you have.
Reply Vicky says
May 21, 2018 at 8:44 am
Congratulations! Preordered, when can I expect my book ?
Reply Gaye Sekula says
May 21, 2018 at 8:53 am
Reply Pat Johnson says
May 21, 2018 at 9:38 am
Marc and Angel are my go to people for encouragement, inspiration, hope, and joy for the future. You are awesome. I am trying to order the new book but having a little trouble but I will get it ordered. You are the best. Thank you from my heart Pat
Reply Mickey says
May 21, 2018 at 9:44 am
I confess, I’m a lurker. And I’ve been a lurker for years.
I also confess I have been following you on and off all this time. I come back to Marc and Angel when I feel like I need tools to be my best self. I take notes. I analyze. I pull out Quote: s. I put stuff into practice. It’s just a little bit of fine-tuning and we all need that in our lives, no matter how good we feel.
Thank you, Marc and Angel (and the community of people who pop up in the comments), for being a reliable place where I know I can get all those tools, a reassuring silent guide, a gentle nudge when I need it the most.
Reply Teri says
May 21, 2018 at 10:10 am
I just saw you two on Megyn Kelly, and your message resonated with me and the direction my life has been going, how I have been feeling…..insecure, isolated , lonely….even with people who say they love and care about me around. This has all come after multiple difficult losses and heart wrenching sadness….and all after years of amazing joy and happiness. Hoping your insights can open the door to joy and some contentment again…
Reply Kelly Crawford says
May 21, 2018 at 11:05 am
Excited to see you both on Megan today! So very happy to see you both endure success. I pre-ordered your book and received notification I get it tomorrow. Cannot wait! I start my day with your blog and it truly is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story , and more importantly your positive realistic attitude to surviving life’s challenges.
Reply Rosalie says
May 21, 2018 at 11:59 am
Thank you, Marc and Angel for the reminder to think better about myself. Before reading your emails, my self talk was horrible. It’s actually no wonder why I burned out after 10 years of teaching. When I developed multiple sclerosis shortly thereafter, my nervous breakdown/mental breakdown totally made sense. In essence, I needed to break down to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. With daily habits, a beginning routine in the morning of thinking that it is going to be a beautiful day, and an ending to the day with a meditation, thinking that I did the best I could was something I needed to teach myself about my greatness. True, multiple sclerosis has made it so I can’t walk, can’t use my hands (I’m writing this using voice activated software) and my vision is so poor that I use a huge flatscreen TV for a computer monitor and I wear glasses with a prism added to them so I do not see in double vision, but I have been noticing my life changing for the better. Like you, several bad experiences, happening one after the other, needed to happen for me to know my strengths. My husband and I lost our home, we lost three rental homes, and I developed an autoimmune disease that stole my independence. I needed to learn to rely on others in order to feed myself, dress myself, and bathe myself, and I needed to learn that I had the strength to survive. I have a seriously aggressive form of MS, a form that has taken me from being diagnosed in 2005 to being completely dependent on others in 2018, but in all this horrible nonsense I have learned that there are some wonderful people, beautiful people. Hearing about Alyssa Milano’s forward to your book is yet another validation of your awesomeness. 🙂
Reply Marianne says
May 21, 2018 at 2:20 pm
I never got the opportunity to meet my niece’s husband Josh and am not really a fan of motivational speakers or writers, but your segment today on Megyn Kelly has given me the impetus that perhaps your book will give me a different outlook on my life, even at my age. Just had my niece order it for me. Congratulations to both of you!
Reply John McIntyre says
May 21, 2018 at 4:32 pm
Thanks for upbeat emails, they’ve been keeping me going. I’ve ordered the and can’t wait for it to arrive. Although I don’t know how quick the post is like from the US to the UK. Keep up the good work. You’re both stalwarts.
Reply Patty says
May 21, 2018 at 5:16 pm
You guys did a great job on TV this morning! Congrats on the new book. I just ordered it and am looking forward to making it a summer read. All the best.
Reply Ajay J says
May 22, 2018 at 7:29 am
It’s my first time here and what an awesome article to begin with.
The mind can truly be our biggest barrier when progressing towards the things we want.
Although it’s easier said than done, we must try our best to choose the thoughts that empower us during life’s most difficult challenges. To envision new possibilities and keep moving forward – One step at a time.
Also, Congratulations on the new book!
Reply Katrien says
May 22, 2018 at 9:54 am
Hi from Belgium,
I already ordered the book and I can’t wait to receive it!! You were both great on TV! Thank you for being who you are, sharing your knowledge and experiences! You both are a great inspiration for me! Thanks for coaching me into who I am today: happy, proud of myself, happy for what life has given me, putting the hardships behind me and seeing them as lessons I could and have learned from, courageous enough to have started my own business,…
Thank you and a big hug!
Reply CindyL says
May 25, 2018 at 7:06 am
Congrats to you! I’ve been following your newsletters and your blog for a long time, always finding them uplifting and inspiring. I’ve Quote: d your wisdom on my own blog many times, and I’m enjoying your wonderful new book. Will be reviewing it soon – and thanks for all you give to the world!
Reply NANETTE MIRANDA says
May 30, 2018 at 1:29 am
My books arrived can’t wait to start reading Thank You so much Marc and Angel lots of love from Johannesburg South Africa
Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Subscribe for Free
Join 130,000+ subscribers and get life-changing ideas in your inbox:
Thanks! Now check your email.
There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again.
Email Address Subscribe Get the New Books
Recent Posts 3 Easy Things We Say to Avoid the Hard Things We Need to Do How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed (by Everything on Your Plate) 5 Lessons I Learned from Overcoming the Hardest Days of My Life How to Change the Way You Feel (Without Changing Anything Else) The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart) Elsewhere Facebook Instagram Pinterest Twitter Hot Posts 30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself 6 Things Happy People Never Do 10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon 9 Warning Signs You’re in Bad Company 10 Little Habits that Steal Your Happiness 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself 20 Things to Start Doing in Your Relationships 12 Things Successful People Do Differently 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do 10 Choices You Will Regret in 10 Years 8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong 30 Challenges for 30 Days of Growth 25 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Time On 7 Smart Ways to Deal with Toxic People 10 Signs it’s Time to Let Go 5 Ways to Stop Feeling Insecure in Your Relationships 10 Simple Truths Smart People Forget 12 Things Happy People Do Differently 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind 30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Their 30th Birthday 18 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was 18 7 Things You Should Stop Expecting from Others 12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free 10 Habits You Must Quit to Be Happy 19 Signs You’re Doing Better than You Think 60 Tiny Love Stories to Make You Smile Site Focus Aspirations (400) Career (46) Cool (9) Google (13) Hacks (331) Happiness (618) Health (21) Humor (12) Inspiration (334) Interesting Sites (8) Life (946) Money (12) Music (2) News (6) Outrageous (10) Photos (6) Productivity (192) Quote: s (5) Rants (19) Relationships (184) Tech (22) Videos (28) Wedding (8) Site Search