Click on the Stanyan logo to subscribe to the McKuen Mailing List

A Thought for Today

The best reproach is always given with a kind word and a smile. Kindness confounds and confuses even the strongest enemy.


This has been a long, hard but interesting week. Not much sleep or time to myself but plenty of good work and a large handful of quality time spent with friends.

I’ve been in the studio off and on nearly every day completing three Christmas CD’s for Varése Sarabande: The Benedictine Monks of St. Michaels “Alleluia"” and two more "Songs That Won the War" collections, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Christmas Jump & Jive.” The three discs collectively contain just under sixty tracks so there was plenty of digital tweaking and editing to do to make them ready for final mastering.

The first week in October is unusually late to be mastering material for release this holiday season so everything is rush, rush.

The week began with Edward and I off to draft new wills and sign those pesky but necessary Power of Attorney papers that make sure, in case of a serious accident, one or the other of us can make the ‘pull the plug’ decision that stops a hospital from applying so called ‘heroic measures’ to keep the patient alive no matter what. It’s a grizzly subject but no tubes please in exchange for quality of life and no pumps to keep the tired heart, deserving of rest, thumping on. I mention this as a reminder so those of you whatever age won’t wait as long as we did to get this stuff on paper for the executors and in our wallets with donor cards.

Picked up a DAT machine that was being repaired after a month or so in a clinic and solved some glitches that kept causing my Powerbook G4 to freeze and crash. Did it all by myself, thank you very much. A first! But was it a fix or band-aid? Only time will tell. Now if I can do the same for my trusty G3 back up machine without resorting to Computer Associates I’ll surly get a pass to CPU heaven. I hate things that don’t work, don’t you? I needn’t have used a question mark since I’m sure as far as all of us are concerned the statement is rhetorical.

Wednesday Night we went with two friends to The Improv for a Project Angel Food benefit. Great show with half a dozen fresh new comics introduced by the wonderful Bruce Vilanch. His supply of new material seems endless. Of course the lucky so and so writes all of his own stuff and that of just about everyone else in Hollywood. Always great to see Bud Friedman the owner of The Improve, he and I served together nearly fifty years ago in The Army in Tokyo. Another of our buddies in Japan was the late Shel Silverstein who wrote a daily cartoon for The Stars & Strips and became famous later for his children’s books, among them “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

After the show we went to Kate Mantilina’s for a late supper. Having lost twenty five-pounds on purpose and in danger of dropping a few more unintentionally because of the current sleep & eat hours I’m keeping, I had fried chicken & mashed potatoes and gravy. Mmm, Mmm Good. Home around 1:30 only to realize I’d forgotten my glasses. Fortunately it was a short trip back to the restaurant to retrieve them, still cats are not amused when you arrive home after an evening out, start to pay them some attention and then rush out again.

No sleep at all Wednesday night, too much on my mind. At 5:30 AM I wisely decided to put on the coffee and stay up because I had a photo shoot at 9:AM followed by more set aside studio time. Glad it wasn’t my sleep deprived and haggard face being photographed. All appointments kept I returned home in time Thursday evening for wire wizard and musician Takeshi Nishimoto to re-install the DAT unit so I could burn a few reference CD’s.

After thirty-something hours of being awake, Thursday night I got a lot more than forty winks of steady sleep. Friday I wrote, returned telephone calls and made false starts at household chores. In the evening Charles Hallam dropped by for a martini before we went to dinner to celebrate his birthday. Edward & Charlie had coffee while it was play time for me at Virgin Records. Picked up a couple of new DVD’s (Memento, Snow White, Along Came a Spider and Mummy Returns.) Got Billy Joel’s CD Fantasies & Delusions, New Dylan, Diana Krall and some Classical discs I’d been waiting on. In the bookshop I bought the new biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

This is the first time I’ve been out shopping since ‘The Horror’ and it felt good. I signed the credit card receipt without daring to look at it. A few hours may have actually passed when I didn’t think about 9/11/01. Now to work out some time and attitude for watching, listening and reading my latest goodies.

If all this sounds like a diary entry I guess it probably is. And I thought if I shared what I’ve been up to, you might . . . Hmm; I couldn’t finish that last sentence.

Know this, I am thinking of you. Sleep warm.

RM 10/6/2001


Every other E-mail in the past three days has been a forward of what follows. The first one to send it was Alan Kornfield.

Subject: What to do with Osama bin Laden

Now this is a plan!

Killing him will only create a martyr. Holding him prisoner will inspire his comrades to take hostages to demand his release.
Therefore, I suggest we do neither. Let the Special Forces, Seals or whatever covertly capture him, fly him to an
undisclosed hospital and have surgeons quickly perform a complete sex change operation.

Then we return HER to Afghanistan to live as a woman
under the Taliban.

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays Shana Alexander o Jerome Cowan o Britt Ekland o Bill Gallagher o Janet Gaynor o Thor Heyerdahl o Amy Jo Johnson o Le Corbusier o Jenny Lind o Carole Lombard o Elizabeth Shue o Millie Small o Fred Travelena o George Westinghouse o Helen Wills o Stephanie Zimbalist

. . . and a special birthday greeting to my young, old friend Charles Hallam

Rod's random thoughts Wisdom lurks between the lines; it’s seldom verbalized or written down.

Reach down and grasp a handful of good ground - in doing so, you’ll touch the arteries of angels.

March not only to your own drummer but to your own syncopation, be you a band of many or one voice soloing, slicing through the silence, a single sound heard ‘round the corner or ‘round the world.


I always knew the old cafe
was made up just for us,
why else were our own memories
its only yellow pages?
I heard somewhere or thought I heard
                        that it closed up,
changed hands, was leveled off
to be a piece of some great parcel
that contracts call development.
It drifted probably, shifted gears
                         or merely stopped.

The forward march leaves behind
the frame for picture postcards.
How could the corporate heart
                      be served
by flowers pressed in Camus’ book
or lacy vintage valentine?

Someone said
the cafe turned into a cycle shop.
                            I don’t know.
It does roll on inside imagination,
perfect to the crumpled napkin
coffee ill-attended getting cold
the waiter growing old before our eyes.
The unimportant conversations
                      were always more important
than warmness on the inside trickling down
                      black coffee might provide.
And anyway the warmness up ahead
                                          was coming
and it was always better, best.

Suspense would always stop by for a chat.
More than just a part of love,
suspense is head foreplay.

I see it clearly now,
each day that dynamited into night
as though it were this night ahead.

                                 And you,
a vapor all around me, in me.
I always thought the larger part
of heaven, hell or here
was the ambiance we carried to it.

Your breath is ever on me
                            and a little damp.
Perhaps some San Francisco mist collected
                      through the decades
                               and distilled,
waits here to fall when I come back.

So this is purgatory.
The memory set in mold.
Reality a little way past reach.

I wait.
Tomorrow then, or soon
you’ll reach and pull me up
                      and into heaven.

A bow has little competition
               with an untied ribbon.
And bud before a flower opens
stays on stem unnoticed.

You cannot praise a bloom
beyond the blossom seen effectively.
As Steinian as that may be and is,
it’s also truth beyond all truths.
And our cafe, now vacant lot or worse,
is still and always Our Cafe,
waiting there for us to enter in
through hardly open, hard-to-open door.

-from “Suspension Bridge,” 1984

© 1971, 1984, 1999, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
Want to comment on today's Flight Plan?
Send e-mail to Rod McKuen or post a message at the Rod McKuen Message Center
home page   today's flight plan   flight plan archives   search this site   site map