COLUMN 115, MARCH 1, 2005
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
LEAN ON ME
envisioned a hospice scene with three generations of our family holding hands
beside old Al's bed as he takes his last breath.
For years I'd wanted to be a movie producer. Now I was determined to produce the classic death vigil, and
as the hyper-efficient, loving daughter, I would organize everything!
my timing was off. I arrived
too early?way too early. My
dad wasn't ready to die. So
instead of holding his hand and urging him to go to the light, I took him to
heard people joke that, "having cancer means never having to go to the dentist
again." Unfortunately my father
doesn't have any of his own teeth left, so although I found it funny, I
figured I'd better not mention it to him.
my dad, cancer has its own silver lining. He's
76 and loves marijuana. He's been
smoking it secretly behind closed doors since I was about five years old,
passing a pipe around a circle with such notables as Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg
and every other pop celebrity from the sixties and seventies you can name.
Now that he has lung cancer he won't smoke anymore (smoking, he?ll
tell you, is "anti-life?). Instead, he has a friend he calls Alice B. Toklas who buys
boxes of Pillsbury peanut cookie mix, and adds unknown quantities of pot to the
recipe. My eleven year-old
son wants to know if Alice B. Toklas grinds it up before adding it to the
batter. I'm pretty sure Dad doesn't do his own baking because he's vowed
never to cook another meal or wash another dish for the rest of his life.
they told him he had pancreatic cancer, everyone (including my dad) figured his
prognosis was as short as the fuse on a firecracker.
The first oncologist he went to gave him six months to live if he
didn't go for chemotherapy. There was no time for dishes and cooking.
I was worried, too, worried I would blow it by showing up too late to say
goodbye. So instead of
worrying, I signed up for a yahoo groups list server on pancreatic cancer and
started researching everything I could about Hospice a week after my father was
diagnosed. I made long distance
calls to the east coast to locate the closest facility where we could move my
dad, when the end got near.
we plan this now," I told my brothers, "it'll be a lot less stressful and
we won't have to think about it."
problem, I pointed out, was that my dad's apartment in a roach-infested
building in Elizabeth, New Jersey is not really an apartment.
It's a hovel of an office with a bed in it. His two rooms are
overfilled with filing cabinets and a record collection which he's been deeply
attached to since 1970 even though he knows every opportunistic junkie he's
crossed paths with has pilfered said collection, mining it of any valuable
remnants and leaving punched, not for resale, copies of third- and fourth-rate
artists who never sold more than perhaps a hundred copies of their album to
ex-girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers and family.
It is currently protected by newspapers, which are taped together as well
as to the cabinets that contain them, as proof that no one?not even my younger
brother who lives in the same apartment building or the superintendent?has
breached the barrier to steal a single album.
dad's apartment has exactly three places to sit.
At his computer, on the bed, and in a beat-up easy chair someone gave him
when the doctors insisted he sit with his feet elevated to prevent a blood clot
from killing him during his bouts of phlebitis, an iatrogenic consequence of his
quadruple bypass surgery in 1996.
There are no clear paths to navigate through my dad's living space. An electric radiator emitting summer-like temperatures in the dead of winter stands between the computer chair and the easy chair. A stack of papers piled high sits between the easy chair and the bed. The closest thing to a clear path is from the bed to the bathroom and from the bathroom to the front door where a sign
was only 14
when my mother died
alone in a hospital room
been posted, "Do not leave in the morning without taking Metamucil."
In short, there is no room for more than three people max.
This was not the loving setting where my dad would take his last breath.
It was not the setting I'd art-directed in my head at all.
been diagnosed in September, but much to my surprise, my dad was not in the
condition I'd imagined after living with pancreatic cancer for three months. It didn't fit any pattern.
Either he didn't have pancreatic cancer or the treatment was actually
working. He was in remarkably good
shape and even though he wasn't dying like I'd planned, we'd come at a
good time. I didn't return to the
east coast because I wanted to. I'm almost forty-seven and I had to.
I was only 14 when my mother died alone, in the middle of the night; in a
hospital room and I didn't even know she'd had cancer.
I'm an adult now and this is my last chance to get it right.
went to his apartment Tuesday morning in time to make sure he'd had something
to eat. I even made him a high
protein shake complete with digestive enzymes to ensure he'd get some quality
nutrition since you can't have chemo on an empty stomach.
I offered to bring the iPod my brothers and I had just loaded with play
lists of our favorite music and given him for Christmas, but he said, "No I
don't want to lose it."
realized after traversing the rainy streets to Trinitas hospital that poverty
begins in Elizabeth, and an iPod is a ticket to heaven.
I understood this as I dropped him at the door of the hospital so I could
park my rental car. If my dad was
receiving charity care, he couldn't really show up with the must-have Christmas gift of the 2004 season.
Especially since his first oncologist, a fancy NYC Bush supporter,
released him as a patient upon discovering my father had no money for the 20%
deductible Medicare wouldn't cover.
was clutching far too many electronic devices including my cell phone, which I
turned off as I entered the hospital.
I felt like a yuppie with my pda, knitting, computer and even a pair of
Bose headphones. I guess I felt I
needed these things to feel important or busy, or in the event I needed to
emotionally distance myself from my dad. My
brother had warned me that the afternoon could be a long one.
I was prepared for everything?I hoped.
dad weighed in with his shoes on. I
wondered if they were always on when he weighed in.
Did he empty his pockets? My
dad had complained of a loss of appetite but how would anyone know if his
pockets were loaded. I was just an
observer?I had to tell myself?I
wasn't in charge. Linda the nurse took his blood pressure, and his
temperature, ninety-seven degrees. Hmm,
I thought, low thyroid. I
wasn't in charge.
doctors introduced themselves to me and I thanked them in advance for giving my
dad such quality care. Since he can
be a "difficult patient? I just wanted them to know someone in our family
was capable of gratitude.
dad was familiar with the routine and took off his shoes, sat on the hospital
bed and without wasting another minute, unwrapped a large, heavy looking cookie
he'd pulled from his pocket. One
you might find at a health food store except that it was decorated with
M&M's. I watched as he took
his time, slowly chewing the cookie, not hiding it, but eating it in plain
sight. Everyone, including all the
doctors he knew, had told him that marijuana was the best antidote to offset the
nausea and loss of appetite that often accompanies chemotherapy. No more secret
rituals with pipes behind closed doors. In
that moment I saw how my dad's life?even his illness?worked for him.
He'd always told me he would use pot even if it killed him.
He swore it made him a better writer. I just couldn't believe how bad
the damn thing smelled clear across the room, or the way he genuinely seemed to
enjoy eating all that?fiber.
he asked me for a few blankets, explaining how he would have to pee during the
got prostate problems," he reminded me. "I
have to pee a lot."
remembered his last prostate biopsy, which he'd shared in graphic detail over
the speakerphone in the car so my son and I could hear his answer to the simple
question, "How are you feeling??
felt like they stuck a 20-inch tube up my ass."
lay down under the thin flannel blankets and took off his black denim jeans
handing them to me.
give me a urinal and I'll just pee through the whole thing."
pants were very heavy, loaded with his wallet, a Swiss army knife and pocketfuls
of change, my best guess, weighing maybe two or three pounds.
came back in with my dad's pills.
forget, I need the Marinol too," he said.
right, the Marinol," she said, shaking her head.
she know about the cookies? Could
she smell them? Had he told her
about them? I was sort of hoping
someone in the office knew what was going on.
After all, my dad could be forging new ground in the treatment of cancer
with those cookies of his. Someone
should be documenting and writing about it.
Every time we'd asked him how he was feeling after chemo, all he
mentioned was a little constipation.
first heard about the pharmaceutical marijuana from my dad several weeks before
when he'd called to tell me how he'd forgotten his cookie and asked for
Marinol, which of course they gave him.
didn't do shit," he complained, but because it was so easy to get, he now
asked for it in addition to eating his cookies.
Linda disappeared to the pharmacy from where, my dad told me, they were
dispensed by a DEA agent. I
didn't know whether to believe him or not.
William Kessler came in. Dr. Kessler is chief oncologist at Elizabeth's
are you feeling, Mr. Aronowitz?? Dr. Kessler asked.
The cookies had begun to kick in?apparently they work pretty
fast?because I could detect a delay in my father's response.
okay," he said, not sounding exactly sure.
"How am I supposed to be feeling??
doctor prodded him for more specific answers and I sat there beady-eyed, glaring
at my dad because sometime within the last seven days, not only had his appetite
vanished but so had his memory about the complaint in the first place.
been having vague GI symptoms," he told the doctor and continued to elaborate,
"Like right now I feel like I have to take a shit, but I won't be able
to." The doctor asked him if he
took anything for his constipation and, noticing my exasperated look, smiled at
me and said:
get this from most of my patients."
interrupted out of total frustration:
me, Doctor, for interrupting, but my father has had a rather long-term
dependency on fiber laxatives."
my father raised his voice. He
hates when anyone suggests he has a dependency on anything.
I just said that you use non-habit forming fiber laxatives and have been using
them for years for your vague gastrointestinal complaints."
the fiber in his cookies and his daily dose of Metamucil I didn't think fiber
was the problem. But when I first
heard him complain about constipation, I reminded him that taking Metamucil is
only effective if you drink water.
don't drink enough water," he blurted out.
was concerned that my dad's loss of appetite had something to do with the
pancreatic component of his cancer. Only
the lung had been biopsied, but C.A.T. and P.E.T scans revealed metastasis to
the spine, liver and pancreas. Although
everyone seemed sure it was the chemo, the doctor wasn't convinced.
the chemo was going to knock out his appetite, it would have done so from the
beginning," he said.
Dr. Kessler didn't know about the cookies.
dad was right, how should he feel? How
does it feel to have cancer? How
does it feel to get chemo? I once
had pneumonia and had to take pills that made my tongue turn black and made me
feel so awful I would count all of them each time I took one, just to make sure
there were less left each time. I
was sure those drugs were killing me.
Why wouldn't my dad be terrified?
Did he think if he didn't tell the doctor his symptoms then they would
go away? Surely we have all done
that at one point or another in our lives.
I understood him. I understood his fear?and admired his courage.
Dr. Kessler explained how he needed to compare the original CAT scan done in
September to the results of the scan done the week prior to my arrival.
need to decide whether to move to another drug or stick with the drug we're
using. Getting rid of a good drug can be worse that starting a bad
drug. Today though, I think we?ll
continue with the same therapy."
didn't understand. I wanted to
ask, "How about no drug, until you figure it out??
But I wasn't in charge! My
father would think I was another Jack Kervorkian if I'd asked such a question.
It's not that I didn't share my father's confidence in Dr. Kessler. It's just
the memory of my mother's suffering from her cancer treatments has haunted me
since her death and I was scared that my dad would suffer too.
came back with two Marinol pills wrapped
not in orange
or red, but green packaging. I
forget the applesauce and Jell-O," my dad reminded her.
He couldn't take pills with water; he had trouble swallowing.
I couldn't help but feel compassion for the both of them.
My dad is so demanding I offered to go to the cafeteria myself.
he insisted. Did he not want to be
left alone? Did he not want to pay
for them? Jell-O and applesauce
were pennies compared to an iPod.
a child has taught me to pick my battles. I
sat down and watched as Linda returned with an I.V. bag of saline and two sealed
containers, one of orange Jell-O and the other, applesauce.
going to have to help me now," my dad said. "I need to get these pills down.
Put some Jell-O on the spoon and then a few of the pills."
wasn't incapacitated, he could've done it himself but I was there to help.
I recognized this as a profound life cycle moment?my dad had cared for
me as a baby and now I was tending to him as an old man.
As much as I wanted to say, "Open wide for the airplane," I just
couldn't do it, even though humor has always helped me through moments such as
could swallow two pills at a time (there were about eight of them in all), and
it took fine motor skills to take the pills from the little plastic dispensing
container and put them in the tablespoon on top of the Jell-O.
Motor skills my father seemed to lack after a series of mini strokes
he'd had several years ago. He
really did need my help. I was
curious about the Marinol pills and this was my chance to take a look at them.
They were spherical, perle-like soft capsules you might expect to hold
vitamin A. This didn't surprise
me since the active ingredient in marijuana is a tenacious, oil based substance,
which has been the primary obstacle in advancing its research. The pills had an
off-white, almost opalescent quality to them.
"You sure you need both of these, Dad? Don't you want to share?? Of course I was just kidding, although I'd become partial to pharmaceuticals over the years. Calibration ensures a certain amount of predictability, and if these Marinol pills were shit according to my dad, who knows? I might actually enjoy them?certainly more than my own life's experience with marijuana, which officially began about a month after my mother died in 1972.
dad was still a pop music journalist for the New York Post at the time,
writing a column three days a week that gripped the attention of everyone in the
music business worldwide. If
my dad wrote about a performer favorably, it would almost always guarantee his
or her success. We were living in a
rental in Tenafly, New Jersey. A
brick middle class home decorated with furniture from Sears Roebuck, including a
lampshade that fell off the lamp whenever anyone shut the front door. My mother, stoned out of her mind on Methadone, Elavil,
Marijuana and God knows what else, nearly burnt this house down several times
after falling asleep with lit cigarettes in bed, and once leaving the aluminum
teapot on the stove until it melted into a flat pancake bonding itself to the
electric element. After this last
incident, I realized I'd better stay home and take care of her, bringing my
eighth grade education pretty much to a standstill until after her death.
must've been late June when Neil Bogart, president of Buddha records invited
my dad to a party at his home in neighboring Englewood, New Jersey, to celebrate
his newest star, Bill Withers. The air, heavy with humidity and fireflies,
reverberated with the sound of Bill's newest album, Still
Bill, on speakers wired throughout the house.
The kitchen decorated with green floral wallpaper had wide screen doors,
which opened to a lush backyard resembling a tropical rainforest. In the center of the kitchen table, a large platter
overflowed with delicious looking brownies.
Not just delicious, but rich, gooey brownies which somehow rode that
narrow line between cake and candy. Having
just lost my mother, I'd developed the habit of replacing my need for love
with the need for food and those brownies represented everything I craved, a
loving hug, a kind word, careful listening, gentle encouragement and emotional
too bad they also contained potent quantities of high-grade hashish?a fact I
learned much later that evening.
hit single, Lean on Me, catapulted Bill Withers into stardom and on this
night penetrated my mind as I sat strangely out of control alongside my dad who
was interviewing Bill in Neil's bedroom while the room itself moved in slow
Sometimes in our lives we all have
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don't let show
swallowed all right, swallowed plenty.
I whispered, not wanting to interrupt, afraid I couldn't modulate my own
I feel really weird."
retrospect I don't know if I was put under his direct charge because someone
had seen me ingest the brownies. My
brothers, Joel and Myles, and two grown women Kathy and Jane, who were posing as
babysitters, were at the party too. Did
they eat any? Did anyone know
before they took a bite"besides
my very tormented, overindulgent self?
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on
music is so loud."
it easy, honey, I'm right in the middle of something," he said.
I feel really sick, what's happening to me??
Panic embraced me. "I need to go home, I feel awful."
So just call on me brother, when you
need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on
my dad listening to the song? Apparently
this was some party; in fact it was so great my dad didn't even want to leave.
Instead he had Kathy and Jane take my brothers and me home in our beat-up
Oldsmobile station wagon.
many did you eat?? Jane asked
Kathy after she'd already turned on the ignition.
but it sure was strong," Kathy said.
you drive?? Jane asked. Jane
didn't have a license.
was in it??
could have been Psilocybin,?
No!" I burst out.
wrong?? Kathy asked.
ate five of them!? I said in
My heart started pounding. I was terrified. I didn't know what psilocybin was or if it was going to kill me. I still had enough presence of mind to notice we were, at that very moment, passing Englewood Hospital.
take me to the hospital," I begged. "I
want my stomach pumped."
guess it was pretty bad. I mean why
else would any fourteen year-old request this unpleasant procedure?
just Hashish. We're just going to
take you home and let you rest. We?ll
stay with you and everything will be fine."
was going to die. I knew it.
There was nothing anyone could do. The
night before my mother died I'd heard the doctor trying to calm my father down
in a similar tone of voice. They
were taking me home to die.
felt like I was sitting in the first row of a movie theatre with the screen
pasted across my eyes, like I was peering out at the world from a huge glass
window. My body was big, cumbersome
and rubbery like the Michelin man. I
felt my body as a vehicle, felt its density, felt myself on a cellular level.
overwhelmed me and everyone seemed like they were screaming.
Kathy, Jane and Myles spent much of the evening trying to comfort me and
when I seemed to calm down, they tried to joke with me, which only returned me
to a place of panic. Even the guard dog, a German-Shepard named
Aurora-Tin-Princess (a descendant of Rin-Tin-Tin) that we'd adopted knew
something was wrong and kept following me to the bathroom.
I had to pee a lot but the harsh bathroom light bothered me so I
reluctantly turned it off. I was
afraid of that dog, and feared her more with the lights off.
darkness filtered out some of the visual stimulation and with less to notice, I
was able to relax. But even in my
calm dark bedroom, hiding under warm covers, with my brothers and babysitters
whispering in gentle voices, I wondered if I would make it through the night, if
I would live long enough to see the sun rise. If I did live that long, I wanted to know, would I ever be
as regular in our house as an uninvited uncle
childhood memories all include Marijuana, which was as regular in our house as
an uninvited uncle. I even nicknamed this uncle, "Marty."
I sat beside my dad with my
yarn and needles, casting-on stitches for a scarf, when Linda came back in and
drew the curtains to administer my dad's I.V.
They'd inserted a shunt?a so-called portacath?into his chest during
a special surgical procedure to make receiving chemo easier.
I was glad. My father is
crabby and doesn't like needles much. Hiding
behind the curtain, he gave me a real theatrical yelp when Linda inserted the
needle, obviously trying to get as much of a rise out of me as possible.
He laughed right afterwards to let me know he was only joking.
I'd decided to make a
scarf after making hats for nearly everyone as Christmas gifts.
On the plane I discovered knitting kept my white knuckles busy.
"I hate flying," I
said, trying to strike up a conversation. "When I'm knitting, I don't have
a chance to worry too much."
My dad's eyes were now
slits in response to the glare of the fluorescent tubes. He wasn't talking much, though he nodded.
"I noticed that as the
plane hit turbulence, I got a little riled and knit faster which stopped the
turbulence almost immediately."
I couldn't tell if my dad
was conscious. I could hear the
rhythmic pump of the IV pushing saline through his veins.
'so knitting is good for
me and it's good for the plane."
My dad looked at me and
laughed. I liked it when he laughed
at my stories.
"I know it's a little
late, but I'd like to read you this letter I wrote that goes with your
"Okay," he said.
I pulled out the letter.
"Dear Dad," I started
to read. I was nervous.
"At the end of a rigorous
exercise class during a cool-down and stretch I was hit with an epiphany while Somewhere
from West Side Story played in the background I wept uncontrollably as John Secada's singing made
me realize that all my earliest memories are linked to music; a wondrous and
rich gift you gave me, Dad. In that
moment I realized music is a three-dimensional historical document like a
holograph, unlocking a memory unique to each person.
It stimulates the brain to activate combinations of sensory memories to
return the listener to a meaningful time when he or she heard it.
I want you to bathe in this music, one of the greatest healing forces on
At this point, I got really
choked up and started to cry.
My dad can get pretty
emotional too, especially when he's listening to music.
But anyone else's tears make him uncomfortable.
"Okay already, let me
"But you told me not to
bring the iPod. Wait, I know!"
At that moment I knew why I
had schlepped all that electronic equipment with me into the hospital. My iBook
had the same play list we'd imported into my dad's iPod.
Plus, I had a set of Bose headphones, not those silly ear buds, so he
could comfortably enjoy the quality of digital sound.
This time Linda came back
with another I.V. bag marked. "Aronowitz," containing his chemo.
But, before she exchanged it with the empty bag of saline, I saw her put
on a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves she'd pulled from a box labeled
"chemo." Not the ubiquitous
thin latex ones as common as a box of tissues, but instead the kind you'd wear
to wash the floor, or clean an oven.
I felt great discomfort
with the thought that a fluid so toxic, necessitating industrial strength
protection for the skin, was being injected into my father's veins. Did DEA
agents dispense chemo too? If it
were such a hazard to get it on your skin, what would it do to the insides of
your fragile blood vessels? If the
skin provides the first barrier of protection between your insides and the
outside world, I wanted to ask Linda, what would happen if she got it on her
skin? But I didn't. I wasn't in charge.
Except when it came to the
music. Sitting at my computer, in
the charity cancer clinic at Trinitas hospital, I morphed into a private disc
jockey for my dad, skipping over a few of the more morbid selections like Rosewood
Casket and Father Along from the Trio album with Dolly Parton,
Emmylou Harris and Linda Rondstadt. I
didn't want my dad listening to songs about death with poison coursing through
his veins. As I sat there knitting my scarf, I picked songs I knew would be more
familiar to both of us. Happily, if
only for a few moments, I was in charge.
I had everything I really needed. And after a long while, I heard my dad snoring.
The pump beeped at regular intervals alerting Linda that the I.V. bag
needed to be replaced, and even though she was supervising the care of at least
five other patients, including a young Hispanic woman, a heavy-set black woman
and an old Armenian man with a cough, she returned with still another I.V. bag
filled with saline. Before she
replaced it, Linda squeezed every last drop of the toxic chemo fluid into the
bottom of the bag and watched as the pump pushed it into my father's tired old
vessels while Miles Davis wailed on his trumpet in digital bliss.
I listened as Dr. Kessler
explained to the black woman that her cancer seemed to be "asleep? and
watched Linda, who, wearing those heavy duty blue gloves, changed my dad's
I.V. back to saline, for a final "wash."
My dad gave up his privacy
for charity care. A thin polyester
curtain was all that separated him from the other four patients in the room.
I sat there and realized I'd learned a great deal more than I?d
expected about chemotherapy and for the first time wondered, who if anyone, had
taken my mother to her treatments so many years ago, or if she'd gone by
I'd knit my way through
two bags of I.V. fluids and had more than five inches of scarf to show for my
effort. I'd somehow forgotten
about food until I realized my dad had only to let one more bag of saline pump
thru his body before our day of chemo was finished.
I was suddenly famished.
My father bathed in All
Things Must Pass while I dug through my bag looking for something?anything
to put in my mouth to elevate my blood sugar and hold me over.
At last I found a single Ricola herb candy.
I returned to my knitting to stay distracted and quell my hunger.
The electronic beep
signaled again and Linda returned.
"You're done Mr.
She had to repeat herself
several times before she got a reaction.
"You're all done Mr.
Aronowitz," she said.
"I have to take out the
I.V. now." She pulled the curtain closed, while Doctor Kessler sent the
Armenian man, who was too sick to receive chemo, back home for another week.
My Dad needed to pee a good
long while after the IV was removed. I
stood there surprised by his concentration and obvious pleasure while he
urinated behind the privacy of his flannel blanket. He seemed to take forever,
and I was a little envious he could pee like that, flat on his back.
"Get rid of this for me,
" he said, slowly trading the urinal, without exposing himself, for the black
pants I was handing him. I
disappeared to find a toilet.
When I returned, he'd put
on his pants and was sitting upright on the bed with his feet dangling down,
shoes on, but with Velcro closures still open.
I closed his shoes and handed him his t-shirt and sweatshirt but he
seemed so stoned, so far away, that I showed him where the tags were on each so
he knew front from back. The whole
day had been somewhat surreal for me as an observer, and I hadn't taken any
My father stood up and
looked at me. For the first time in
a few hours his eyes were more than slits.
He moved in slow motion and was even slower to speak.
He looked at me as if he'd stored up the energy to tell me something
really important when suddenly he blurted out:
"I'm bombed," and
started to laugh.
"Can you walk?? I
asked, handing him his cane.
I watched as he tried to redirect all his energy to his feet.
He even looked down at them as if his eyes could stimulate the
appropriate neurons to make his legs move.
He tried once and nothing happened and then a second time. This time
before his right foot moved, his leg buckled and I put out my arms to catch him
in case he fell. He looked up at me
sort of helpless, but it didn't seem to bother him.
Finally, he put his right foot forward and teetered back and forth as if
on a ship. He tried again to take a step with his left foot and looked up at me
with a sheepish grin.
'should I get a
wheelchair?? I asked.
He must've thought he had
a rhythm going and unsuccessfully tried to take another step before he looked up
at and with great effort said, "Yeah, I'll always take a chair."
I tried to help him put his
parka on. He was like a little kid
who couldn't figure out how to twist his arm at the right angle to get it into
the armhole. I stood there like a
matador and we fumbled together, he and I, trying to get his jacket on.
The orderly delivered my
dad to the bench outside the hospital and I laughed as I rushed to retrieve the
rental car. My dad and I were so different.
Al Aronowitz was, and would always be, a stoner.
He loved marijuana. "Marty?
had never really been my friend. Even
though I'd been just as stoned as he was at least a few times in my life,
I'd always panicked, starting with those five potent hashish brownies.
I had to give my father a
lot of credit. He spent the day in
bliss. He was living and dying on
his own terms and I learned something very important from him.
He truly knew how to make the best of a bad situation.
That day, I learned that whatever plans I'd made to create a perfect
hospice setting for my dad's last breath, were my plans, not his, and I
was not in charge. I only
hoped my dad knew I loved him and that he could always? lean on me.
FOR AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP LISTENING TO BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, PEOPLE WILL WANT THIS BOOK
"A masterpiece!" --- SALLY GROSSMAN, widow of Bob Dylan's brilliant original manager, Albert Grossman.
"This book is a must-read for all rock 'n roll aficionados!"---EAR CANDY
"An essential reference for demystifying what the author refers to as: 'one of the most self-destructive binges of creativity in cultural history.'"---HAMMOND GUTHRIE, COUNTERPUNCH MAGAZINE
"Required Reading for anyone and everyone who considers themselves fans, followers, students, or those just plain curious of the Golden Age of Popular Music"---GARY PIG GOLD, FUFKIN.COM.
"I love the book. I love the way you can open it to any page and start reading and it keeps you reading. The book is just fun to read." --LEVON HELM, Drummer of THE BAND from Big Pink.
"Ellis Paul and I love your book."---RALPH JACCODINE, Ralph Jaccodine Management.
". . .perfect for our times."---WOODSTOCK TIMES
Duritz (he's the lead singer and writer for the famed
". . .a must read for anyone who loves, music, loves life, loves rock and roll."---TSAURAH LITZKY, author of The Motion of the Ocean, Baby on the Water, and Goodbye Beautiful Mother.
"I recommend it."---DOUGLAS HOLDER, IBBETSON STREET PRESS.
. .It is a fascinating, insightful read. You are such a wonderful
writer."---STEPHANIE LEDGIN, Music
"I could not put this book of yours down for a minute."---ED GALING, POET LAUREATE OF HATBORO, PA.
"Quite simply, Al Aronowitz is a living legend"---JOHN FORTUNATO, THE AQUARIAN.
"Every student and fan of The Beat Generation, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones will want to read this book"---RON WHITEHEAD, POET
"Volume One Of The Blacklisted Journalist is the kinda tome what a fella can dip into at any given point and find oneself hooked within a couple paragraphs"---DUKE DE MONDO, BLOGCRITICS.ORG.
BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, VOLUME ONE OF THE BEST OF THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST
The sometimes scattered chronicles of
the rock journalist's friendship with a few of the most recognizable music icons
in rock and pop history.
certainly takes a bit of hubris to say that "the '60s wouldn't have been
the same without me."
But coming from Al Aronowitz, the former music columnist for the New York
Post who was often called "the godfather of rock journalism," such
sentiment is perhaps justified.
Here, in a compilation of many of his unpublished manuscripts, Aronowitz
describes in candid yet affectionate detail his friendships with Bob Dylan and
the Beatles. As
a music writer and fan who recognized the musicians' limitless potential early
in their careers, Aronowitz decided to bring them together for the first time,
in a New York City hotel in 1964, a meeting that also involved the Beatles'
introduction to marijuana. His prescience was soon bolstered by the 1965
releases of Dylan's Highway 61
the Beatles' Rubber Soul, both seminal albums that altered the landscape
of pop music. This
landmark moment is just one of Aronowitz's colorful memories and musings of
being a hanger-on with these legends and their associates, including The Band,
Beatles manager Brian Epstein, poet Allen Ginsberg, deejay Murray the K and
provocative are the accounts of Dylan's erratic behavior and short temper, which
often led to fitful confrontations and even the ending of friendships, including
that between Dylan and the author.
It's also evident that Aronowitz was particularly fond of George
Harrison, and the two remained friends until Harrison's death in 2001.
Most remarkable is the close proximity he maintained to these gods,
whether he was at their homes, hoteI rooms, recording studios, or concerts.
Though his personal life certainly had its share of woes (particularly
bankruptcy and his wife's death), Aronowitz exhibits a marked sense of
pride---and rightly so---for playing a key role in music history,
An enticing backstage pass to the meeting of arguably the two most influential acts in rock history.
"BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES: Volume One Of The Best Of The Blacklisted Journalist is a golden stash box of Al's You-Are-There history of two thirds of rock's Holy Troika"---MICHAEL SIMMONS, LA WEEKLY.
". . .Amazing stories in this book" ---JAY LUSTIG, NEWARK STAR LEDGER
". . .Aronowitz has a place in the annals of history that nothing can erase"---DAVID DANKWA, GAZETTE LEADER
". . .Aronowitz has a simple, straightforward writing style that makes the reading go fast. . ."---JEFFERY LINDHOLM, DIRTY LINEN
"Aronowitz. . .witnessed things that most rock fanswould give an arm and a leg to see"---REGIS BEHE, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW
"The best of Aronowitz's writing. . . offer riotous and rambling time capsules comprising detailed vignettes and told in a voice that's direct, disarming and self-deprecating"---MIKE MILIARD, BOSTON PHOENIX
". . .Addictive reading" ---GOLDMINE MAGAZINE
you are truly interested in the 'behind
the scenes' events of people who spawned an entirely new direction in the time
we identify as the sixties, this book is truly for you!"---JOHN
IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM," TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."
AND HERE'S ANOTHER BOOK BY AL ARONOWITZ!
THE MOVIE WAS FICTION. THE TRUE STORY IS STRANGER THAN FICTION: FOR MOST OF HIS SHORT BUT SPECTACULAR LIFE, BOBBY DARIN UNKNOWINGLY LIVED A LIE
". . .A highly entertaining and informative read"--HAMMOND GUTHRIE, THE THIRD PAGE
". . .Its 43 chapters provide snapshots of Darin's brief, sensational life>" ---GOLDMINE MAGAZINE
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN 115
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
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THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ