The System of Dante’s Hell

images-2.jpgI highly recommend Amiri Baraka’s experimental novel from the ’60s, The System of Dante’s Hell. Written under the poet’s name at that time, LeRoi Jones, Baraka gives a highly personal, somewhat autobiographical, account of how the experience of being a black man can be related in terms suggestive of Hell as developed by Dante in the Inferno.

In fact, a modified version of Dante’s system is provided at the beginning of the book. But don’t get trapped into attempting to marry each section of Baraka’s narrative to Dante’s map of Hell.

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Christmas in Snow or At the Beach?

images.jpgMerry Christmas! Any snow where you are? Here in Hilton Head it’s a balmy 80 degrees and I’m sweating. Growing up in San Diego I guess I’m somewhat used to the warm weather during the holidays (water skiing on New Year’s Day anyone?). But I did spend over 30 years in New Jersey, experiencing more than my share of cold and wet and frozen.

I remember San Diego days driving up into the mountains, cavorting in the snow, and driving back to the beach for some gnarly waves. They used to say that San Diego would never support a major sports team because there was too many other fun things to do: who wanted to sit on a hard seat and watch what you could more comfortably enjoy on the television, possibly when relaxing at your neighbor’s beach bungalow.

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September Is In the Air

Mary PoppinsAh, September.Traditionally this was the start of the school year but now with the effects of climate change and parents who need the schools for extended babysitting, I see classes starting earlier and earlier (and going later and later).September is also the month that summer changes into fall. In New Jersey everyone was at the shore for Labor Day basking in the sun and chowing down on boardwalk pizza & zepoles and just 15 days later the heads came off the parking meters, the leaves fell off the trees, and the crisp smell of pumpkins was in the air.

This September for me will be momentous: my daughter is having her first child and I will officially become a grandfather. So my resumé now will read: Grandfather, Curmudgeon, Boulevardier.

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