Birthday dinner at Tessaro'sBirthday dinner at Tessaro's

Yesterday was our youngest, Calvin’s, 17th birthday, and we took him, his friend Sam, Jon, and our daughter Valerie out for burgers at Tessaro’s in Bloomfield. Although Monday is Mexican night at Tessaro’s, is there really any good reason to eat anything other than a burger there? If you read the link, you will see that they grind their own beef and hand-shape the 8-ounce patties before cooking them on a hard-wood grill. Hamburger perfection, served with dark and crusty home fries, or house-made cole slaw or potato salad. I always get my burger topped with blue cheese, as pictured here, but the other toppings are equally good – fried onions and/or peppers, sauteed mushrooms, other cheeses, barbecue sauce, etc.

BTW, click on this link for an article from the Pittsburgh City Paper in which Calvin is quoted in connection with a class he is taking at Carnegie Mellon this summer called From the Beats to Hip-Hop. We clearly neglected his education if he thought that Allen Ginsberg was an important figure in the hip-hop world; you think you’ve covered all the bases as a mother and something comes at you from left field! But it’s true that I did discourage him from reading Charles Bukowski when he was younger, thinking that an acquaintance with Bukowski’s works would surely be unhealthy for the sensibilities of a young person. There are times I wake up screaming in the middle of the night wishing I had never read Bukowski myself. Here’s a photo of the birthday boy, looking every inch like someone who can’t wait to get to New York and begin taking film classes. Too bad he has to finish high school and get his undergraduate degree first.


What a birthday dinner! Happy Birthday, Calvin. And what a cool class at CMU—enjoy it!

As an undergrad at Pitt I took a wonderful course from the late, great Ted Windt titled “Rhetoric of the Counterculture.” Here’s the story of our final exam. He handed out blue books and speaking not a word, pointed at the blackboard where he had written the following:

1. Write your name on the cover of the blue book.

2. Turn to the second page, and list five things worth loving and five things worth living for. Elaborate on why those things are worth loving or living for.

3. When you are finished, put down your pencil and await further instruction.

When we’d all finished, he asked us to read what we had written, grade ourselves based on how honest we were, and write the grade on the cover of the blue book. We all did so. He then said. “OK. Tear the cover off of your blue book, turn it in to me, and keep the rest to do with whatever you choose. If you were truly honest, I have no right to read your truth. If you lied and wrote what you thought would please me, I have no desire to read your bullshit.”

Loved that man.

Bastards could have at least checked the spelling poor Calvin’s last name!

That is too funny, Marcy! My husband is debating whether to teach a class in the English department at CMU this winter, but the thought of the time involved in grading all the papers is giving him pause. Perhaps he should think about adopting Ted Windt’s method…

I agree, Leland, and Uncle Buddy said the same thing; how hard is it to get the “c” out of Pollak?!

Oh, teaching at the English Dept. at CMU would be so rewarding! I got my MAPW there 12 years ago and I return periodically to do lunch and learns, helping the students choose career paths. What a bunch of smart, motivated people…gives me hope!

What a coincidence, Marcy – that’s exactly what my husband got, his MAPW at CMU, only closer to 16 or 17 years ago, when we realized that we would never be able to put four children through college on a musician’s earnings, even with what I was bringing in as a therapist, also not a highly paid profession (at least not at my level). He has actually already taught there two or three years, and it’s a lot of work for not much pay as an adjunct professor.

Small world! (But I wouldn’t want to paint it, or so said Steven Wright.) Come to think of it, all technical writers should probably marry therapists! :o)

So should musicians; we’re the only ones who are codependent enough to put up with them.

All your boys are so lovely and clever.

Me, I went to law school when we had the big “who’s going to get a real job first” thing.(I previously supported the painting by being a low-wage picture framer by day). But I’ve been “putting up with” musicians from father was one, too.

The (late) musician husband eventually got a day bank job and a corresponding degree, too.

Why are these stories so similar?

Maybe musicians just gravitate to women who will feed them. They do need a lot of care and feeding and some women are honored to do it. Robertson Davies describes the phenomenon really well in “A Mixture of Frailties”, the last book of “The Salterton Trilogy”, where the heroine routs a nubile groupy with a display of her cooking and housekeeping skills. If you haven’t read this book yet Lindy I advise you to do so forthwith as I think it would appeal to your dry sense of humor. Davies is a brilliant writer whom I think is a little underappreciated, in this country at least.

Happy birthday to Calvin who both looks and sounds older than his years. As for Alan Ginsberg being a hip-hop figure, I’m sure Alan Ginsburg would have been thrilled to be described as such were he still alive.

HA! I am a Robertson Davies fanatic. I’ve pretty much read everything-including the essays.

Then you must know the book I mean, the one about the opera singer; don’t you think “The Salterton Trilogy” is laugh out loud funny?

Mom, I read that Mixture of Frailties and remember liking it very much. I don’t think I realized it was the third in a trilogy. Did you have me read the others as well? It was a long time ago.

If you can’t remember then it’s time to reread them; I’ll bring them along when I come for my visit next month. Davies bears rereading every time he grows dim in the memory, his writing is so fine.

I so agree. And I think it’s time for me to read them again too.

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