Swapping Recipes with Ferlinghetti

2 Jul

Recipe For Happiness Khaborovsk Or Anyplace
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

One grand boulevard with trees
with one grand cafe in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups.

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.

One fine day

Recipe for Discontent Khabarovsk  Or Anyplace
sweat and sprezzatura

One distractible reader with wanderlust
with one letter missing a vertical line,
making one oh! instead of ah!

One not necessarily very beautiful woman now dreaming
of going to Khabarovsk or Khaborovsk or Anyplace

One fine day.

48 Responses to “Swapping Recipes with Ferlinghetti”

  1. solidgoldcreativity July 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm #


    “One not necessarily very beautiful
    man or woman who loves you” … perfecto.

    • jenny July 3, 2011 at 6:43 am #

      SGC: It is perfecto–the idea and the expression.

      Why, though, is it so impossible to hold on to the feeling that all you need for happiness is the boulevard, the cafe, the sun and the not necessarily very beautiful person who loves you?

      About Twitter: I’m clueless.

      • solidgoldcreativity July 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

        “Why is it so impossible …?” That’s an easy one. At the risk of spoiling the longing … because we get juice from the suffering.

        It’s very easy to twitter. And it’s much more fun than nasty old FB. Just go to twitter and get a username.

  2. solidgoldcreativity July 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Jenny, join Twitter with me. I think it would suit your epigrammatic style.

  3. dafna July 3, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    from Stephan Dunn “Different Hours”

    thank you jenny for the introduction!


    My friend the pessimist thinks I’m optimistic
because I seem to believe in the next good thing.

    But I see rueful shadows almost everywhere.

    When the sun rises I think of collisions and AK-47s.

    It’s my mother’s fault, who praised and loved me,

    sent me into the dreadful world as if 

    it would tell me a story I’d understand. The fact is

    optimism is the enemy of happiness.

    I’ve learned to live for the next good thing

    because lifelong friends write good-bye lettres,
because regret follows every timidity.

    I’m glad I know that all great romances are fleshed
with failure. I’ll take a day of bitterness and rain

    to placate the gods, to get it over with.

    My mother told me I could be a great pianist

    because I had long fingers. My fingers are small.

    It’s my mother’s fault, every undeserved sweetness.

    • jenny July 3, 2011 at 6:46 am #

      Dafna, I had not read this poem by Dunn. Thanks. I am a fan of his, and it pleases me (a lot!) to have been the one to introduce you to this next good thing.

  4. Thomas Stazyk July 3, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    I love going to Coney Island with Ferlinghetti!

    Hope you get some fun travels!

    • jenny July 3, 2011 at 6:46 am #

      Well, I have train ticket for Erie, PA. You know, Dreary Erie, the mistake by the lake.

  5. sledpress July 3, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Alas, the only Ferlinghetti poem I can call to mind myself is the one about underwear. And I am not swapping underwear with him.

    • jenny July 4, 2011 at 6:56 am #

      Sled, I just googled it. Never read it before. It’s not Yeats, is it?

      Happy 4th. I’m going to see MIDNIGHT IN PARIS today.

  6. Man of Roma July 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Great post, Jenny, you are so refreshingly intelligent! I guess I was at the ‘City of lights’ bookstore cofounded by Ferlinghetti, in the Italian district of San Francisco. My memory is weak but I guess I sat there for a LONG time reading book, living the atmosphere and watching the wonderful American people. I find these places – that were and are not any more (like Cafe Greco in Rome) – extremely fascinating. Italy is ALL like that in some way (well, the Italy I like, whilst its modernity, like Milan, a lot less). They are suspended, such places. Like in a religious limbo. I adore Ferlinghetti and all the beat generation, although, of course, they were totally nuts.

    • jenny July 4, 2011 at 6:59 am #

      Roma: Yeah, we all have trouble remembering what we did in San Francisco. I just know I had flowers in my hair.


  7. mr. crotchety July 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Mosquito’s lament.

    • Richard July 4, 2011 at 2:48 am #

      Convulsive laughter.

      • jenny July 5, 2011 at 6:44 am #

        Sometimes, Richard, when a commenter bestows convulsive laughter on a fellow commenter, and not on my post, I recall a little bit of the feeling I have had in court when I lose a case to a litigant representing himself.

        He’s standing there, so smug. My client is looking at me, like ‘what did I hire a friggin’ lawyer for?’ And I’m feeling like a potted plant.

        Thanks. Self-imposed exile, coming up.

      • Richard July 5, 2011 at 9:22 am #

        I wasn’t being sarcastic, jenny, honest. I really, really liked this post,

        Oh dear! I still sound sarcastic.

        Tell you what – I’ll come with you anywhere (if you’ll have me, that is).

        I was so used to losing my cases I never noticed whether the opponent was representing himself. Anyway, it’s a strict no-no to bring in a lawyer against a layman (except when you actually tell a client to go it alone against a lawyer).

        Ah! You can’t win. It’s a bad, bad world.

      • jenny July 6, 2011 at 6:57 am #

        I’m just joking, Richard.

        And we’re going to Khabarovsk. You still in? 🙂

        (It’s a stop on the trans-Siberian RR, by the way.)

    • jenny July 4, 2011 at 7:10 am #

      I’m writing a blog post exploring this topic: When does Mr. C make an appearance in small case and when in capital letters?

      I have a bold theory, backed up by statistical analysis of hundreds of comments culled from a variety of blogs. This is going to be hot stuff.

      Looking forward to your commentary.

      • mr. crotchety July 4, 2011 at 7:41 am #


      • Paul Costopoulos July 4, 2011 at 11:54 am #

        Looking forward to read that.

      • jenny July 5, 2011 at 6:38 am #

        @mr. crotchety (aka Mr. Crotchety): I see. Another wrinkle. My study considers when you appear as “mr. crotchety” and when as “Mr. Crotchety” — I’ll have to broaden my field of inquiry now.

        @Paul: I’m actually more encouraged by negative feedback, like: “What a stupid idea!”

    • dafna July 5, 2011 at 1:29 am #

      what the heck is the mosquito lamenting?


    • Richard July 5, 2011 at 1:46 am #

      its self-imposed periodic exile

      • dafna July 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

        oh! thanks richard!

        jenny you must know you are in good company with your last comment to andreas about a fear of writing that interferes with the writing process.

        someone help me list the great writers and thinkers and performing artists that either self medicated in order to move forward or were so hypercritical of their own work that it “nearly” never reached the audience.


        1. kafka – left instructions that his work be burned after death
        2. samuel clemens – battled depression which must have affected his writing – “i had a horrible life, most of which never happened” (one of his quotes?). he left instructions to publish his autobiography 100 years after his death – the first installment just came out in 2010 (what’s that about?)
        3. barbra steisand – paralyzed with stage fright
        4. proust – started “À la recherche du temps perdu” in 1909… the final publication was twenty years later, posthumous.


      • mr. crotchety July 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

        I was in the process of re-writing the title because I was looking for a more original (ok, better) title and a subtext for my own amusement. I digressed until I was a mosquito hopelessly bouncing off the screen door; watching someone in the midwest writing poetry about being someplace else on the fourth of July (someplace with more clothing and less ‘fun’). I was also thinking about the difference between every place and any place. ‘Mosquito’s lament’ is the title of the poem and the existing title is actually the subtitle, at best ( the poem having nothing to do with a recipe unless you consider the mosquito finding a hole in the screen). I defer any further explanation to R.M.

      • Richard July 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

        I am crushed and silenced for eternity.

      • jenny July 6, 2011 at 7:02 am #

        dafna–That’s a terrific Twain quote! Made me laugh.

        Isn’t it interesting that a lot of very funny people suffer from depression?

      • jenny July 6, 2011 at 7:20 am #

        “..I was a mosquito…”

        Mr. Crotchety, this is poetic thinking. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Current conditions in Khabarovsk: 74 degrees.
        Bring shorts.

      • dafna July 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

        Dr. Kowabunga has just conducted a study that proves that all comedians including satirists but especially Clowns suffer from bipolar disorders.

        They only question left is why are some more physically attractive than others?

      • jenny July 9, 2011 at 5:42 am #

        You made me laugh, Dafna. I love clowns.

    • Man of Roma July 10, 2011 at 8:40 am #

      Once in a while you pop up man! Behave though, ok? 🙂

      • Man of Roma July 10, 2011 at 8:41 am #

        It was sent to Mr. Crotchety. WordPress comments behave strangely at times.

  8. Philippe July 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Could Laurence Ferlinghetti have been the Larry to whom hats were taken off in honour of – memorialised in *Del Shannon’s song*?

    • jenny July 5, 2011 at 6:33 am #

      Philippe, you are always testing the boundaries of my knowledge of music. You got me. This was new to me. Who knew men could be as vindictive and mean-spirited as women?

  9. dafna July 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    and you can always count on a song from me:

    • jenny July 6, 2011 at 7:05 am #

      Paul Simon!


      • dafna July 6, 2011 at 10:02 am #


        paul simon singing about re-writes… did mr. c know before he gave his explanation?

        just saw “Midnight in Paris” yesterday, very funny. i thought the funniest lines were when owen wilson = woody allen.

        wouldn’t it be fun in the trans-Siberian RR took you to meet your favorite writers?

  10. Philippe July 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    I liked “Rewrite”. It sounded a lot like many of the songs on “Graceland”. Nothing wrong in that, though, for “Graceland” was a marvellous album. The compromises a writer will make to get out of having to work in a carwash!!

    I, too, saw “Midnight in Paris” – yesterday in fact. As one who has always lived too much in an imaginary world for robust psychological health, I loved “Midnight in Paris”. I can never get enough of Woody Allen.

    • jenny July 8, 2011 at 6:02 am #

      dafna & Philippe:

      I liked “Midnight in Paris” too. Beautiful, wasn’t it?

      Those of us who live in (or at least visit) an imaginary world–even too much for robust psychological health–must be in good company. Woody Allen spends a lot of time there.

      I want to make a movie response to “Play it Again, Sam” with a hero who confers (as I do, in my imaginary world), not with Humphrey Bogart, but with Woody Allen.

      • dafna July 9, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

        let’s all join in a chant…


  11. dafna July 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    john gilkey!

    cheater, cheater , pumkin eater… that’s not the “stereotypical” clown!

    that’s performance art – thank you so much for sharing this video. it’s beautiful.

    just saw “howl” last night. did you know that sexy james franco is from around the corner in cleveland? the real mistake by the lake.

    also, i was not familiar with ferlinghetti: only the “classic” writers in french, greek, russian, english, etc. “where you thinking of the poem “constantly ricking absurdity”, when you described your fear of writing?

  12. jenny July 10, 2011 at 8:16 am #


    That is the second poem you’ve introduced me to in this series of comments! Another reason to continue blogging.

    I have very few people (other than my mother) who share my interest in poetry, in my stolid real life.


    By the way, I went to school just outside Cleveland. In other words, not even in Cleveland. Close to a town called Elyria, if you’re familiar with it. I used to take the train in from Pennsylvania and hope, each time, that I might get off the train and say:

    –What country is this, friends?

    and someone would oblige me with:

    –This is Elyria, lady.

    🙂 🙂

  13. sledpress July 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    I see I have missed a whole sparkling colloquy by having a brutal workweek and a weird Fourth-of-July potluck before it.

    Ferlinghetti’s indeed not Yeats, is he, but at least thank Selene he isn’t Richard Brautigan.

    • jenny July 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      Hi Sled. My job kinda sux at the moment too, and I’m on my way to the dreaded HS reunion on Thursday. (You were a little late in warning me not to do it.)

      Roma is on his way to Montreal to hang out with Paul, I hear. Can you believe that? Do you suppose they’ll be able to figure out where they’re supposed to meet? That’s challenging for some people. 😉

  14. Cyberquill July 14, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    I love those trains. I want a model railway now.

    • jenny July 15, 2011 at 7:17 am #

      I love those trains, too, CQ. We agree about something.

      As for model trains, there’s that line from A MIGHTY WIND:

      Thank God for model trains. Without the model trains, where would they have gotten the idea for the big trains?

      And, btw, I just stepped off the Lake Shore Limited. Not exactly my train of choice, but it’s OK.

      • Cyberquill July 15, 2011 at 8:08 am #

        And without supermodels, where would God have gotten the idea for the big women?


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