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Photo by Dan Chapman ゥ2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

Dying is easy; it is living that takes imagination.



How much of a vacation it will end up being is debatable, but from the 17th of June to the 28th of July I値l be on the road almost continually. I値l go from one coast to another and back again visiting five states

On June 17th I知 in New York for a celebration of the life of Portia Nelson the great singer and songwriter, Stanyan artist and best of all friend.

We致e recently moved our AGVA headquarters and I hope to spend a few more days in New York on AGVA business (I知 in my eighteenth year as president of The American Guild of Variety Artists.)

On the 25th I知 due in Atlantic City for Frank Sinatra JR痴 rehearsal for his opening the following night. I値l be attending both shows the first several nights and I can稚 wait to hear him sing 的知 Not Afraid live. In a tight bit of scheduling I leave for home to drop of laundry on the 30th, because the next day, July 1st, I have a speaking engagement in Redding, California.

For those of you who live in Northern California, I値l be speaking at the 2nd annual Celebration of Life & Diversity event at Cladwell Park. There痴 no charge for attendance and many families bring lunch and make a day of it. The program starts at 6:PM, afterward there値l be music and dancing. So I hope to see some of you for Redding痴 Celebration of Life & Diversity. More details on this event in coming days.

On the 2nd I値l leave to spend a few days with friends in the San Francisco Bay Area and then back home for my annual physical on the 9th and into the studio for ten days.

A quick rehearsal with the band of some new material I plan for Riverton and then it痴 off to the Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Rally, Vintage Car Parade and finally my single public summer concert on the night of July 21st. There痴 a rumor that the local PBS station will be taping it for broadcast at a later date.

I may stay in Riverton for a book signing on the 23rd. Then for a week I値l be traveling in the Southwest on business, including book signings and a private, by invitation only, concert.

On Sunday afternoon the 28th of July I値l be singing two songs as part of an All Star Concert for Santa Fe Cares at the historic Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe New Mexico. Other artists appearing include Julia Migenes, David Gaines, Sophie B. Hawkins, Julie Budd, Kristine W, Liz Torres and a number of acts still to be announced. Everybody痴 favorite not so Hollywood Square Bruce Vilanch will be the Master of Ceremonies.


I致e been collecting a file over the last several weeks of letters I致e received regarding the book and CD collection 鄭 Safe Place To Land. There are some very nice 叢ro痴 regarding the book and its production and some equally important 祖ons that I feel deserve to be addressed.

I wanted to publish some of the letters together because I believe the comments and my answers will lead to a better understanding of ASPTL as a whole and I like the idea of putting even more order into the Flight Plan.

With the addition and apparent success of 鉄entimental Saturday I知 thinking of adding 溺onday Morning Feedback as a weekly feature. Next Monday for instance I plan to print more of the mail I致e received concerning the Love Letter痴 Unsent.

For some time I致e been trying to figure out a way of lessening the load as far as the time and effort I put into the Daily Flight Plan is concerned. The daily deadline (commitment is a better word) of writing a new column can be stressful. Like you, there are times when I just don稚 feel like writing. I know that I can call on Ken for help and when I do he never fails me. But, he has a life too. So there has to be another answer.

I get flack from Edward and friends who say, 鏑ook this is the most unproductive work you do as far as bringing in any income goes (it brings in none.} 敵et your priorities straight if you ever want to get the house recarpeted and the walls painted, not to mention building the barn. Stop juggling so much work and not completing as much of it as you壇 like to. Print a new Flight Plan only once or twice a week.

All of the above makes sense and it may come to that. I知 sure that once I get out on the road for this summer mini-tour and a longer one Jerry is trying to put together for the fall, my new writing for FP will take a bit of a nose dive. For now I press on. Thank you notes and business and personal letters don稚 get sent out nor do promised books that sit around signed but don稚 make it to the stamped envelope and out the door to the post office. Appointments have to be cancelled and rescheduled; you don稚 want to know the rest of the list.

For now I知 writing and it痴 coming easier. Still with my single finger typing nearly every FP takes the better part of every day, I press on. I want those who come to this place for some solace every day to get something a little different each time they drop in.


Dear Rod: A mutual friend of ours recently asked for my opinion of "A Safe PlaceTo Land". I answered her (in part) this way:

"I'm still digesting "A Safe Place To Land" Susan. I'm very, very
impressed with the writing, which is, without a doubt, Rod's best work thus far. I'm sure that some of his fans would have preferred that he had kept writing in the style of "Listen to the Warm" or "Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows", but that was another time; another place in his life and in ours. Rod has matured and moved his writing to a much higher plane now.

I suppose that we all long for those beautiful days of long ago when we were all much younger, and far more romantic and idealistic. Rod filled a need for us then, and some of his fans might lament the passing of that time and place in their lives. Sort of selfish of us though isn't it? Rod is willing to fill the needs of "now" for those same people if they'd allow him to."

I am overwhelmed at the maturity and depth of the writing Rod; that bitter-sweet thread of melancholy weaving its way through the book; the perceptiveness and the naked honesty of the poetry. There are phrases in some of these poems that are absolutely stunning. You've hit the nail right on the head Rod: "Age Is Better". Well done old friend, Larry

Only one complaint though Rod. What the hell happened to "Intervals" in the bibliography? I noticed that immediately. *S* Never mind, I've pointed out the omission to Susan. (she smiled *S*)

Dear Larry, Thanks. That you recognize the change and growth in my writing style is important to me. You nailed it when you said, 鍍hat was another time and place regarding my earlier books. I don稚 like anything I致e written before less than what痴 coming out of me now but I would hate to think that growth in my work remained static as my mind and body met gravity head on.

You are first on the list of those people I致e yet to thank for birthday gifts. I知 still struggling to find a way to say thank you for what you sent. It was the most thoughtful gift I received this year, In fact it was the most unexpected and meaningful gift I致e gotten since the one you sent for my birthday last year.

As to 的ntervals being left off the bibliography, Wade Alexander was the first to notice that omission. It痴 being taken care of in future printings. Thanks again for the praise on ASPTL. As ever, Rod


Dear R., I posted the following on the MB this morning in response to another post:

"A Safe Place to Land" contains some of Rod's finest work, and all of the emotions are present. "Apr鑚 Vous" is one of my very favorite poems. Those incredible last two lines: "I believe you love me, but what if it rains?" He celebrates life and simple appreciation in "Unexpected Gifts." Humorous and clever? Look at "Folding T-Shirts," "A Fable Revisited," and "On Being Stationed Too Near the Romance Section While Signing Books." (The titles of his poems are works of art.) Inertia? Read "Forever Is a Mind-set." I love this poem.

"Wayne Massie Is Dying of AIDS" is a very important, powerful poem. Rod has witnessed the devastation of AIDS at a very personal level, and this poem speaks to his pain.

I'm very proud to have played a part in the birth of his new
baby. It's an exceptional book written in Rod's inimitable style. To borrow a line from "Charlotte's Web": He's SOME poet! Hoping to stimulate some discussion. Luv and afternoon smiles, Susan Badger

Dear Susan, Anyone who痴 read my comments in the book 展riters on Writing knows how I feel about editors and I believe that over the years I致e had the best. There is no way to praise a good editor enough.

About half of my books, including . . .and autumn came, 鉄tanyan Street & Other Sorrows, the various editions of 溺oment to Moment and 釘eyond the Boardwalk were written with no outside input or editorial advice of any kind. On the whole, though, I壇 rather have someone to bounce ideas off of and help speed the process along.

As far as the publishing community is concerned you are considered as and known for your talent as a 祖opy editor and are highly praised and paid for your work. Correcting the punctuation, syntax, grammar, errors of omission, spelling, fact from fiction and sorting out the author痴 original work from online plagiarized text is no easy job. But it痴 one I致e had the privilege to watch you wrestle with in the months and years I致e known you.

More than anything a copy editor forces the author to focus on whatever strengths his or her style may be and keeps them from those little excursions into excess and pointless meandering that dissipate the original point of the book. The copy editor痴 access to the author is not only limited but in most cases does not exist. Thus, whatever changes you labor over that are passed along to the author get credited to the official editor.

You were certainly more than copy editor on ASPTL which is why you are credited with being the editor. Working with you in our long, pleasant and often contentious phone conversations was an absolute joy. It was give and take all the way, with editor and author conceding points in equal measure. Sometimes a word was changed or a sentence altered. Often I wrote on the fly because your input made me realize that by dropping or adding a verse I could make a poem clearer or stronger. Given the abstinence in both of our natures it痴 amazing the book completed at all, let alone on time.

I wanted you to know, if you don稚 already, that ASPTL is a stronger and better book because of your input and love for the project. It would be a different book without you and I知 convinced not one I could be as proud of as I am of our version. Luv, Rod


Dear Rod, Today my 15 year old daughter recited A Cat Named Sloopy from memory. I was amazed! That is a long poem to remember. There is no doubt that Sloopy is her favorite poem!

We just finished listening to the new ASPTL CD's. I would never, ever part with them or the book. I have no negative feedback. It's small enough to carry anywhere and I love it! Also, green and blue are my favorite much luckier could I get?

I remember the problems you had with customs and I would love to be at the library as they decide if they should put it under books or CD's? Thank you for taking the time to autograph my copy. I'm sure you were getting very tired from signing all those books. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate the extra time and effort you give to all of us. Love, Janice K

Dear Janice, Blue and green are my favorite colors too. They always have been. ASPTL is 僧y baby from start to finish. I designed it, including the bindings, slipcases for the disc and the type. The size was important to me as more than just an experiment. Since the book/CD is a hybrid that has not been attempted before I wanted this to be something both book and record stores could carry that would fit in with their existing racks.

Yes, since it was printed and bound in South Korea the customs situation was a horror. I致e never understood why the distinction of whether it was a book OR a CD mattered, since both have the same duty applied to them.

Committing 鄭 Cat Named Sloopy to memory is a fete indeed and one I haven稚 mastered. Luv to you Janice and to your daughter, Rod.

This FP turned out a little longer than I planned so it will be continued tomorrow.

RM 6/10/2001

Two new appearance dates just announced!

Booking for "An Evening with Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for more details:

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Adrienne Barbeau o Wilma Burgess o Jacques Cousteau o Christina Crawford o Joey Dee o Chad Everett o Athol Fugard o Gina Gershon o Madeleine Grey o Irving Howe o Joshua Jackson o Ben Johnson o Vince Lombardi o Shelly Manne o Paul Mellon o Joe Montana o Jeannette Rankin o Hazel Scott o Lawrence Spivak o Rise Stevens o Richard Strauss o William Styron o Richard Todd o Gene Wilder
Rod's random thoughts The most that we can do for one another is care.

Only look back to gain perspective.

Without regrets there are no aspirations.


If we could do it all again
      motor bike through roman cities
in the rain
    watch the cats chase lizards in the forum
      drink bad wine from mouth to mouth
I probably would try
To love you harder than I did.
I probably would smile a smile
much better than the ones I did
for I was just rehearsing then
imagining what easily might happen
in years to come.

It is not just you I love
         (or even Roman rain)
or all the times you rattled on my window
after twelve o'clock.

I love the smell of rooms-
where you have been,
the foreign touch of things I never knew
until you came along.

I even love your enemies
because they drive you to my arms
for comfort.

-from "Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows", 1966

ゥ 1984, 1988, 1999 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
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