He would have been 64 today, my Dad. Gone since June 2001, he is in my heart every single day. I miss him when I hear a piece of music that cuts right to my gut, when I smell a perfect cup of cofee, when I see my son's smile light up a room, when I feel my little girl's hand in mine, when someone mentions the Dodgers, or jazz or Tony Orlando and Dawn or love or fatherhood or daughterhood. I just miss him, plain and simple.
I can't think of a better way to honor him today that to put out into the world a little part of his greatness, his writing.
From a letter he wrote me in 1996:
"...I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: Welcome challenge. Work harder at avoiding the first impulse. Don’t get too attached to any one idea. Encourage conflict in matters of concept and language. Seek the oblique. Look very closely at the simplest problem. Surround yourself with an array of stimulus in every form imaginable. Eavesdrop on everyone and develop an ear for genuine dialogue. Read everything you can get your hands on. Research subjects that you already know too well. Make your writing a full contact experience. Enlarge your circle of friends and include people with which you have nothing in common. Go visit someplace with nothing particular in mind. Examine foreign media. Learn everything there is to know about a subject completely unrelated to any of your endeavors. Take up a sport that will physically challenge you. Go for a week without makeup. Buy a hat. See several sunrises. Have a cigar and martini. Listen to Mozart. Read out of town papers. Listen to talk radio. Watch really old movies and foreign ones too. Sign up for a lecture series where you will struggle to understand everything. Watch body language. Hang out in neighborhood bars, but not in your neighborhood. Interview strangers under any pretext. Swim in the ocean. Get to NY soon and spend your days in museums and nights on Broadway. Get some Billie Holiday records and some Miles Davis and John Coltrane too. Read Hemmingway’s newspaper stuff, not the novels. Write letters to various editors on subjects that strike a chord with you. Be able to argue both sides of almost any issue. Learn how to play poker and shoot pool. Learn the names of trees and plants. Get a computer and get on the net. Take part in the campaign. Explore Chinatown. Find a columnist that you like and read him/her everyday. Do crossword puzzles. Watch or tape the Mcneil Newshour or ITN from London. Watch Booknotes on Sundays on CSPAN. Go to a little league game. Audit a class at UCLA. Read the sports page. Catch a few races at Hollywood Park. Spend an evening at an emergency room. Get a tour of the morgue. Tell your employer you want to visit Israel. Join a synnagogue. Look for cheap airfares to Europe this fall. Find a pen pal in Brazil. Donate some blood. Read a trashy novel and then critique it. Get a police scanner and learn all the codes. Get a cheap short wave or CB radio and eavesdrop.
The world that surrounds you is free for the taking…use everything!