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A Thought for Today

Good or bad luck is nearly always rooted in good or bad judgment.


Where was the house on Stanyan Street, when am I coming to England and how does your garden grow are some of todayís topics.

After mentioning last week that Iíve asked Jerry Lonn to book Carnegie Hall for Tuesday April 29th, 2003 for a 70th Birthday Concert, the first two RSVPís that came in were from Ken Blackie in South Africa and Ken Ball in Australia.


Hi Rod, Carnegie Hall in 2003? Man, are you going to make a lot of people happy when they read this, none more than me!

Remember me saying this is what I was waiting for? I'll be there. Blue Skies, Ken (Blackie).


Rod: Come hell or high water, I will be at your 70th birthday concert! Best wishes, Ken (Ball)

Dear Ken & Ken, Front row center seats set aside. Love, Rod


Good Afternoon, I visit your site quite often and decided to build up my CD/book collection of your prose. I have many of your vinyl records upstairs and will continue to treasure them and pass them onto my oldest daughter who seems to want them as well. Your gift filters through generations, which is such a delight for each member of the family.

The reason I'm writing is in your "Q&A" section of your website you mentioned that if you put instructions on one's order for you to sign a book, because it mentioned you drop by the office every two weeks or so, I would wait for months if it took that long for one of my books to be christened by your signature. I ordered one book and two CDís on April 29, 2001, today I was so excited to get my package. The book wasn't signed, unless you are using some hi-tech invisible ink?

Disappointed yes, however being a fan since I was fifteen (now 46), I'm blessed with having another book to add to my vast collection. I will continue to purchase prose from you after all you showed me many ways to love and I'll continue to catch the sun. Enjoy your evening, Karen E. Cuno-Stoeffler

Dear Karen, My apologies for not signing your book. Dwight usually puts aside signing requests for me and I get to them whenever I drop by the office. Alas, being in the studio as much as I have lately I havenít been able to get by Stanyan as often as I used to.

Dwight has been getting some negative feedback on the time it takes to get out orders, so I think in the interest of speed some of those orders in Rodís pile have gone out without being signed. If youíd like to send me a couple of bookplates Iíll sign those and you can paste them on the books and records you already own.

In the future Iíll try to be a little more conscientious, Karen. Thanks for the feedback and for sticking with me. Cheers, Rod


Hello Mr. McKuen, I was glad to locate this site on the web. For years I have wondered if you were still writing, as I have heard little about you in so long. I discovered your poetry when I was in high school and still look at your poetry when it comes time to rearrange the shelves.

The other day I pulled some out and marked a few pages for my daughter that was looking for something for a special friend. She was impressed with your writing.

As a high school teacher I am pleased to see you attended your 50th high school reunion. Each year in our town the 50-year class is invited to attend the current year's ceremony as honored guests. At this time I am compiling their 50-year "yearbook" for them, it includes a past and present photo with a short biography of the years since high school. Sincerely, Anne Galeski

Dear Anne, Welcome to ASPTL. I debated about going to my class reunion but in the end Iím so glad I did. In the talk I gave one of the things I lamented was not remembering the names of some of the teachers who did so much for me. They were such a positive influence on this daydreamer who was out of class so much and hard to get to when he was there.

I was delighted when one of the organizers of the event sent me a complete list, with pictures, of the 1951 faculty. The reunion was really something and Iím afraid my speech stirred things up a bit, but you know me Ė no punches pulled. I intend to do a full report on the evening and its aftermath once all the photographs have finished coming in.

Based on my own experience I say to anyone who has doubts about stirring up those old memories, good and bad, by attending a reunion, DO IT. You wonít be sorry. Warmly, Rod


Did you live on Stanyan Street during the 1960s? If so, what address? I'm researching a building on Stanyan Street and don't want to miss an opportunity to make an association of this type. Thanks. Christopher D. McMorris Architectural Historian

I did indeed live on Stanyan Street and at more than one address. After satisfying myself that Mr. McMorris was indeed an historian and not someone writing a book, for the first time in memory I gave out the addresses of my old residences. It turns out one of the buildings where I had lived and completed ďStanyan Street & Other SorrowsĒ was the one he was researching. We had a pleasant talk about it and the work he does.

Among other things it turns out that building was built the same year (1828) as my current address.


Dear Mr McKuen I was bought up on "Listen to the Warm" which my mum and dad played to me as a child, ever since that day I have wanted to see you perform live....I am 38 now and the memories of my parents enjoying your poetry are dear to my heart.

Will you be coming to England to perform for us? You would make a man and his cat called Sloopy very happy! My very best wishes Neil Piddock


Dear Rod, I see you are back doing the odd concert in the US. Have you any plans to return to the UK for some concerts? I remember your sellout concerts in the 70s. We're not all dead, those who attended way back then. I think your return would be very well received. Kind regards, Michael Coulson


Rod: With all the concert plans I hope you wonít forget to book a tour of Great Britain. Charles Fullam


Dear Rod, How soon can we expect you to make an appearance in London and possibly a tour of the UK? Penny Roram

Dear Neil, Michael, Charles and Penny. OK, youíve put the pressure on me and Iíll transfer it to Jerry Lonn my concert manager. Letís see what he can come up with. The minute I know something concrete, so will you.

As you can imagine, I donít need to be talked in to visiting the UK. Luv, Rod


Dear Rod, Iíve read through ďA Safe Place to LandĒ at least three times and havenít taken the CDís of the machine since the book arrived. This is far and away your very best book; nothing else youíve done even comes close. The CDís only add to the enjoyment. Do you plan to record any more of your books in this manor? Rosemary Flemming, Atlanta

Dear Rosemary, Thanks for the enthusiasm. Iíd like to do a whole series of books that contain CDís with them. Especially Ďscoredí CDís ala ďListen to the Warm,Ē ďLonesome CitiesĒ & ďASPTL". Then too, Iím trying to get funding to record all of my books unabridged and without a musical score for the blind.

I had a beautiful letter yesterday from Larry B. on the book. I have to confess that I think ASPTL is better and shows more growth than anything Iíve ever written, but wait till you read ďRusting in the Rain.Ē


What is the latest news on 'a safe place to land' book and CD? Are they available any way yet? I would sure like to purchase both as soon as they are. I check your sight every so often, but haven't seen any new info. Liz Shiplet

Dear Liz, Hope by now youíve clicked on the Stanyan link and know that we are indeed selling ASPTL. Here's the link:

Stanyan By Mail


Dear Rod, Seeing you in Aurora was one of the most amazing nights of my life. I wish I had taken my camera along, but I thought they were not allowed at the concert so I left mine in the room. Rose's daughter, Jeri, took pictures but they were lost in processing so I didn't get a picture of you autographing my program. It was my first time to see you in concert. I almost got a hug, but Rose decided to use your back as a scratching post about the time I came around the table to you and the moment was lost. Maybe next time.

The experience of hearing you in person was a bit overwhelming for me. My body absorbed every note and I still hold them close in my heart. The Book and CDs are simply spectacular! I have had to replace the batteries in my personal CD player twice this month because I fall asleep listening to you whispering in my ear. Now that I have said all the gushy stuff I will get to the question I wanted to ask of you...

The Blue Fisherman painting that you refer to in Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows, who painted it? I have seen such a painting once. It was hanging in my aunt's living room. When her husband died his daughter from a previous marriage took the painting. It must have been something special to her. I would love to find a print and hang it over my McKuen Collection. It has a prominent place in my bedroom in my new home.

I know how busy you are now (and I am overjoyed at the prospect of new projects) so I will end by saying that you are still the Master of emotion. Your poems are as fresh today as the ones I cherished so many years ago. Only my eyesight has weakened, not your talent. I have to read ASPTL with a magnifying glass:) Wish I could be with you in Riverton but I'm afraid that one will be a distant dream. But, know that I will be there in spirit, floating aloft with the colorful balloons. Warm Smiles from Dixie, Storm

Dear Storm, ďThe Blue FishermanĒ is an original work and though unsigned Iím sure there are no prints of it available anywhere. It still hangs just off my bedroom along with ďThe Soccer PlayerĒ a painting I acquired around the same period. Both have fond memories and have survived every move since Stanyan Street forty years ago.

The special edition of ASPTL that contains the two CDís does indeed have smaller print than my other books. Thereís a good reason for it though. The Book & CDís were meant to be a single package with the same dimensions as a compact disc.

Iím sure there will be future editions of the book that will conform to those of my other books, but that may be a little while off. The book is selling so fast right now that additional printings have been ordered, but in the same format. We are keeping First Editions in stock for SBM (Stanyan By Mail) customers as long as possible.

Iím collecting feedback on the book and will be publishing a FP based on what Iíve heard so far. Thanks for the nice letter Storm. Luv, Rod.


Hey Kid, How's things in the hills of Beverly? I've been eating Sweet 100's all week and today got to sample the Green Grapes and Sungolds. The Green Grapes are the size of a walnut and green inside and out - quite tasty.

The Sungolds are tiny and a translucent yellow - they taste like a cross between a regular tomato and a Yellow Pear. Plenty of fruit on Mr.Stripey, Wadda Tomato, and Brandywine but not ripe yet. Looks like it's going to be a good year.

I've really enjoyed the new poems in the FP's. Just when I think you can't get any do! Love, Ann

Dear Ann, This year you won the tomato race far and away. The sun here has been so spotty that I have big plants & gobs of blossoms but only a few dinky bits of fruit have set. By now Iím usually into my second crop, but nothing even approaching ripe is peaking out from a single vine.

The sun in Bakersfield has apparently been a lot more consistent than what weíve had down south. As the eternal optimist I bought some more plants over the weekend in Santa Barbara and set them out yesterday, so at some point Iím expecting that Ďbumper crop.í It will probably happen while Iím away this summer on tour.

I also bought a few new Hostas to augment those that didnít seem to surface this year. The Roses started blooming early and havenít abated and the Daylilies are working overtime, so at least I have petals to augment my green salads.

I love the tapes you sent. The movies are two old favorites and me co-hosting the Mike Douglas show with Joan Rivers, Alfred Hitchkock and James Brown was something Iíd totally forgotten. What a cast. Those indeed were the days.

Iíve been writing a lot of new things lately and it seems to show no sign of letting up. I only wish I could reward the muse with a ripe tomato or two. As ever, Rod

Tomorrow June jumps in and with it the promise of summer. Sleep warm.

RM 5/30/01 Previously unpublished

"Live at the Lensic" benefit appearance in Santa Fe 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 Fred Allen o Don Ameche o Tom Berenger o John Bonham o Clint Eastwood o Chris Elliot o Denholm Elliott o Rainer Werner Fassbinder o Sharon Gless o Gregory Harrison o Jim Hutton o Joe Namath o Henry "Scoop" Jackson o Johnny Paycheck o Norman Vincent Peale o Kyle Secor o Brooke Shields o Lea Thompson o Shirley Verrett o Prince Rainier of Monoco o Walt Whitman o Peter Yarrow
Rod's random thoughts Each of us should have an island we can row to when the ship weíre sailing loses course.

I am unprepared in thought or action when a door I thought I helped to open closes as I look the other way.

Freedom should be the rule, not the exception.


The moment
that the planterís moon
started down across your back
and promised me a harvest
great and good,
I knew that I had crossed
a different kind of field.
Greener than the ones
Iíd trampled through before.

And if not safe
from all those hidden holes
and eyes lately
gathered in a crowd,
curious and hoping for the accident,
I knew it would be different.

Iíve kept my distance,
trying hard to keep the rules
and never violate the boundaries.
There were fences that I leapt
and some that I slid under,
even when I knew
Iíd tear my pants.
Not equipped with hook and ladder
I scaled walls
and burst through barricades
       and balustrades
as sure as any second-story man,
as certain as a centipede
all systems working.

Iíd keep my arms spread wide.
I teetered on a tightrope,
       stretched between
your sometimes need for me
and tied securely
        by my always need for you.
        always balancing.
One foot before the other
down the rails and roads.

-from ďFields of Wonder,Ē 1971

© 1971, 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
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