My Very Favorite One from Hell’s Kitchen!

(If you’re viewing this on your phone, you gotta turn it sideways to see this!)

Today marks the 38th anniversary of my first wedding day!

Yes, on April 9th, 1981, in the late morning, I took the RR subway train (now just called the ‘R’ train) to City Hall in downtown Manhattan and married Chong Foun Kee. I was 20, he was 25. It was a cool but very sunny day. Spirits were high! We had lunch at Dolly’s Diner afterward with our two witnesses — a gal who was studying at Vidal Sassoon’s to become a hairdresser. She was originally from Pennsylvania. And just some guy we knew from Australia, whose name I do not recall, but I think it was something like Keith.

After lunch, my husband accompanied me back to our apartment. For him, it was move-in day. He was very old-fashioned and did not move in with me until we were legally married, although several weeks prior to the wedding day, he had picked out our apartment in The Camelot Building, on the corner of W. 45th Street and 8th Avenue, in the heart of the theater district, just off Times Square.  This area was also known as Hell’s Kitchen, but it was at the edge of it; much nicer than where I had been living prior to that — on W. 50th and 10th Avenue, which, back then, really was “Hell’s kitchen”. It was poor, violent, wretched, bleak. I had moved into our new apartment almost immediately and was already calling it home on our wedding day. (The Camelot Building is still there, btw.)

We stayed married for 9 years, although for a good chunk of that time, I lived by myself down in the East Village (called Alphabet City back then) and went positively haywire. But in a good way, overall, I think. However, during that marriage, I wrote my absolute best songs.

This one here, She Ain’t No Virgin At All, was hands-down my favorite song of all the songs I ever wrote. I wrote it in 1982, when I was 22 years old and had been playing the folk clubs in Greenwich Village (more commonly known now as the West Village) for several months by then.  Maybe close to a year.

This demo was made in my drummer’s bedroom, on his 8-track. He played a synthesizer and some sort of percussion – maybe a drum machine, but when I played it live, it was some sort of acoustic percussion instrument. I played the acoustic guitar on this demo. It’s just me singing. Lots of reverb, though. Anyway. I just love this song. It’s about guilt and infidelity and the question of redemption. The demo is analogue and obviously really old. You need to turn up your volume.

Enjoy, gang. This was a period of my life that really was truly magical.

Oh, People! Not Again!

Gentle readers and fellow travelers, and loyal readers of this lofty blog!

You no doubt recall that, over the years, I have been confounded by collector’s copies of my various books that pop up all over the Internet at prices that even I cannot reasonably afford.

Usually I find it amusing. But I also find it a little jarring because all those books get snatched up pretty quickly and I cannot understand the perceived value in them or why anyone in their right mind would pay those kinds of prices. (Usually $300-$600 for a trade paperback.)

I can, however, understand people wanting copies of the original French edition of Neptune & Surf by Editions Blanche Paris 2001, because the cover was just way too cool! But those copies only go for around $99. This is what it looked like:I think this cover finally put to rest the very wrong impression that Neptune & Surf was a book about the sea…

Anyway. Yes! I digress!

I can’t remember how on earth I discovered this yesterday, but there are currently 16 copies of When the Night Stood Still being sold on Amazon by outside vendors for $203 – $247 each.

When the Night Stood Still is an erotic novel I wrote 15 years ago. I wrote it exclusively for Barnes & Noble to distribute, which they did. It sold out of its print run (thank you, gentle readers).

But the very curious thing about this current book that’s being sold on Amazon: It’s a hardcover edition. There was never a hardcover edition of When the Night Stood Still. Which I’m guessing is what makes these 16 books so valuable. To the crook who manufactured it, especially.

There is no cover image available for the current book, but this is what the book once looked like:

When the Night Stood Still by Marilyn Jaye Lewis

I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind chose to rob me blind by way of this particular book.

I wrote 3 erotic romance novels in the space of 1 year, all of which made me completely insane to write. I’m not a genre-fiction writer. I write literary fiction , although there is usually 700 million tons more sex in my literary fiction than in most other books of that lofty realm. (Except for maybe The Death of Bunny Munro — you’ve gotta read that book if you haven’t already, gang! It’s fantastic!)

Okay!! I digress!!

I hated writing those erotic romances because I had to turn them around so quickly.  Plus they each had to be 75,000 words and 255 pages. So fucking precise. The worst part was that, for the 2 titles I sold to Barnes & Noble (the 3rd went to Walden Books), I had to periodically turn in chapters to them so that they could ‘approve’ them and they always, without fail, said that I had to put in more sex.

Back then, I had a lot of sex. In my personal life, I mean. Anyone who knows me from back then would attest to this fact about me. Certainly people who were married to me would attest to that fact, and, in fact, a certain Divorce Decree might even attest to the prodigious amount of sex I was also having outside the marriage, outside the confines of connubial bliss, as it were.

It was just ridiculous, the amount of sex I had. However. That said. The Chief Mucky-Mucks at Barnes & Noble did not think my characters were having enough sex. And yet they were having more sex than I was having. It was just stupid, the amount of sex they wanted in those erotic romances. There was no way to make it a believable part of the plot. Although I did my very best to make it seem genuine to the characters. I really did. And that is why each one of those novels was a nightmare to write.

And the worst part, of course, was that back then, when the erotic romance genre was brand new, they would only let me write about male-female vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, or masturbation; 2 participants or solo, but that was it.

My life wasn’t anything like that so that particular mandate felt like trying to keep my imagination in a vice-grip. It literally hurt my brain, trying to rein it in all the time. No anal sex, no questionably-consensual rape, no bondage, no discipline, no 3-ways or more-ways, no nothing. Just two intensely heterosexual people, refusing to admit that they’re in love (until page 255); yet 2 people so ridiculously horny that they must constantly, CONSTANTLY, have the most vanilla sex imaginable.

It really was insane. And of course, I wanted the characters to be likable and realistically well drawn, 3-dimensional, you know. What a year from hell that was! Although the money was good…

The thing I finally decided to do was to simply have the characters have sex in wildly different places. That way I could focus on the atmosphere, the surroundings, the accoutrements, as it were.

I usually chose various showers.  I have a thing for showers, personally. Not that I like to have sex in showers; I don’t. I find sex in the shower a little dicey — not the safest place. And also not the most comfortable place.  But I have some weird fetish about beautiful bathrooms.  Beautiful, opulent bathrooms have always taken my breath away. Or showers that pop up in unexpected places — outdoors, and such. I just love that.  So it was sort of like subterfuge: go into elaborate detail about the bathroom and the shower itself, and make the reader just in awe of my ability to imagine (ridiculously impractical) showers, and then the fact that 2 grown-up heterosexuals are having sex in there becomes beside the point.

Multiply that times 255 pages and, voila!, another Marilyn Jaye Lewis erotic masterpiece is born!

Seriously; do you really think that’s worth between $203 and $247, even with a hard cover added now?  By the way, you can buy the original trade paper of When the Night Stood Still at much more reasonable prices here. It actually is a well-written book, but it’s genre-fiction.

That said, though, if you are into genre erotic fiction, When Hearts Collide is a lot better, but it was much more popular and now it’s much harder to find.  Readers don’t seem to want to sell their used copies, which is really just totally endearing and cool in my opinion. (Thanks, gentle readers!)

When Hearts Collide
When Hearts Collide by Marilyn Jaye Lewis

Well, okey-dokey!! Sunday is upon us and I must get back to the re-writes on the play.  I do want to leave you with this, however. This is what I’ve been listening to in my car, over & over, when I’m out driving in the utter darkness of the hills and valleys here in the remote hinterlands of Muskingum County, Ohio. I love the regular “Do You Love Me” and I play that a lot, too, but the “Part 2” version is just wonderfully harrowing and  awesome, and perfect for driving alone and thinking at night in the middle of nowhere..

All right. Thanks for visiting, gang! I love you. See ya!

Onward! And Onward! And Onward I go
Where no man before could be bothered to go
Till the soles of my shoes are shot full of holes
And it’s all downhill with a bullet
This ramblin’ and rovin’ has taken it’s course
I’m grazing with the dinosaurs and the dear old horses
And the city streets crack and a great hole forces
Me down with my
soapbox, my pulpit
The theatre ceiling is
silver star-spangled
And the coins in my
pocket go jingle-jangle

There’s a man in the
theatre with girlish eyes
Who’s holding my
childhood to ransom
On the screen
there’s a death,
there’s a rustle of cloth
And a sickly voice
calling me handsome
There’s a man in the
theatre with sly
girlish eyes
On the screen there’s
an ape, a gorilla
There’s a groan, there’s
a cough, there’s a
rustle of cloth
And a voice that stinks of death and vanilla
This is a secret, mauled and mangled
And the coins in my pocket go jingle-jangle

The walls of the ceiling are painted in blood
The lights go down, the red curtains come apart
The room is full of smoke and dialogue I know by heart
And the coins in my pocket go jingle-jangle
As the great screen cracked and popped
The clock of my boyhood was wound
down and stopped
And my handsome little body oddly propped
And my trousers right down to my ankles
Yes, it’s on onward! And upward!
And I’m off to find love
Do you love me? If you do, I’m thankful

This city is an ogre
squatting by the river
It gives life but it takes it
away, my youth
There comes a time
when you just
cannot deliver
This is a fact. This is a
stone cold truth.
Do you love me?
I love you, handsome
But do you love me?
Yes, I love you,
you are handsome
Amongst the cogs and
the wires, my youth
Vanilla breath and
handsome apes with
girlish eyes
Dreams that roam
between truth and untruth

Memories that become monstrous lies
So onward! And Onward! And Onward I go!
Onward! And Upward! And I’m off to find love
With blue-black bracelets on my wrists and ankles
And the coins in my pocket go jingle-jangle

c- 1994, Nick Cave

Makin’ A Joyful Noise!!

Yay!! The revisions on the play (Tell My Bones) are just about done! Finally!

I should have them completed by the time the director and I are actually in the same room, sometime next week.

I had a brief phone chat with Sandra Caldwell yesterday (the actress I write for in NYC), and I tried to discuss the changes I’ve been making, based on the director’s notes, and she said, “Mm hmm. Well, just let me see everything when you’re done — and don’t get rid of your original version.”

There’s something really invigoratingly enthusiastic about that, don’t you think??!! Ah, well, gang. We shall see!!

It’s overcast here today but it’s gonna go up to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so I’ve already got some windows open, and I’ve got a CAT at every window, listening to all those birds singing like mad.

And at the back of my house, the starlings have indeed returned. They are keeping intact the damage they did to my gutter last year buy building more nests in it this year.

(No, I did not get it fixed last fall because my lawn guy was going to fix it (for free) but said, “You gotta clear out all those old nests first. They’re combustible.  You don’t want to seal that soffit until all that stuff is out of there.” And in what Universe — with all these constant writing deadlines that I’ve been under for the last year — would a gal like me, a ladder-less gal, I might add, have time to clean old starling nests out of soffits over my backdoor? So, no it didn’t happen, and yes, the starlings are pleased as punch and are moving right back in…!)

Anyway. Spring is here!! And as soon as I grab a minute away from my desk, I’m gonna go out there and, I don’t know, appreciate it or something!

Have a wonder-filled Saturday, folks, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting! I love you! See ya!

Life, in General

Except for the fact that I wasn’t a little boy when I was growing up (unlike one of my closest female friends and colleagues), that little illustration above pretty much shows you my entire childhood.

At every possible moment, I was listening to records. And usually on one of those small portable record players pictured there. And even while that is a very isolating — well, I don’t know if that’s the best word; maybe a word like solitary is more appropriate — even though it was solitary, those were the happiest years of my life. Truly.

Even the process  of  “listening to records” nowadays has changed drastically, of course. I have a record player,  but I almost never play it. I usually just stream stuff off the Internet in one way or another.  And I play a lot of CDs in my kitchen or in my car. But it’s just not the same thing. At all.

The way of living life that I used to love is simply long gone.  I’m not trying to reclaim the past, or to live in it (yeah, I know — I bought a house that’s 118 years old, with a really cool old barn that’s 108 years old, and it’s in a tiny village in Ohio that’s close to 200 years old, and I interact with the long-dead spirits here on a daily basis; however, I do not consider any of this as living in the past! I think of it more as “sharing the different levels of reality,” or co-existing in something virtual.).

Anyway. Big digression. Sorry.

I don’t need to live in the past, but I do crave a certain simplicity. I guess that’s why I fell in love with Muskingum County and moved here. Even though it makes traveling a colossal headache.  Just getting to the nearest International airport takes an hour. I realize that when I lived in NYC for 3 decades, it took at least an hour if not more to get to either airport, but here in Muskingum County, if you want a car service to do the driving for you (as I usually preferred in NYC), it’s about $175 before the tip. So life is not quite as “simple,” living in the peaceful middle of nowhere, as it might seem.

I’m bringing all this up because I’m going to have to start traveling again in the near future and probably not stop for a long time. NYC, Toronto, Florida, and LA.  Because of the theater projects, the TV projects, and then the micro-short films and (hopefully) the music projects with Peitor. It’s all good; I’m not complaining. It’s just that there’s something still down inside me that would prefer to sit in my room and listen to records…

However. Yesterday, I continued to make great headway in the revision of the Tell My Bones script. I am almost done.  Which is, like, a really good thing because I need to meet with the director in something like 6 days.

Nothing like waiting until the final moment to get your fucking shit together.  I don’t know why it has been so difficult for me to take a 90-minute play and condense it down to a 30-minute staged reading.  Sounds so easy in the abstract, yet doing it on paper has been unbelievably hard for me. I don’t know why. But I will be so relieved when it is done. Or at least a draft of it is ready to show people.

And next week, I expect feedback on the chapters I have so far in my new novel, Blessed By Light, because I want to get that project completed, too. I really thought I’d have that novel done by Christmas, but au contraire; everything else in the world happened instead. I’m eager to see what the feedback from the editor will be, though. It is such an unusual book for me to be writing – the life of an aging rock star told in 2nd Person, from a male POV; the eroticism of his inner world, of his memories, and then the redemption of his life.

I still don’t know why I’m writing it, but I do really love the book. I can’t wait to be able to really focus on it again.

Well, on that note, gang, I’m gonna tackle the revision of Tell My Bones now. Inching my way toward the finish line.

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are in the world. I leave you with the songs I’m listening to, although not on my record player, as I yearn for that simpler world I used to have:

Sun Kil Moon’s new album, I Also Want to Die in New Orleans

And Grinderman’s Go Tell the Women from 2007

Okey-doke! Thanks for visiting! I love you. See ya!

You Remember THIS Guy, Don’t’cha??!!

Yeah, baby! He’s the little weasel of love!

That cute little furry thing that gets down deep into your intestines and scurries around in there, gnawing on stuff and filling you with anxiety, when all the while you’re wondering , truly, what on earth IS the human race? And more importantly, what IS love?

This time of year, I do the Lenten prayers every morning before I even get out of bed. And I recently began doing the daily lessons of A Course in Miracles again, too. Also before I even get out of bed. These two practices, in some ways, give you polar opposite approaches to the teachings of Jesus Christ, although the Lenten prayers I practice come from the Franciscans, who are decidedly open-minded and philosophical, so there are underlying similarities to the two, as well.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog know that I am an ordained minister; I got through Evangelical Divinity School with a magna cum laude gpa; that I was raised by an adoptive family in Cleveland who were strict, conservative Jews and so I hid my devotion to Jesus until I was 14 years old; that I’m also deeply interested in the history of ancient Christianity, primarily First Century followers of the Jesus Movement. Normally, the history of Christianity and the theology of Christianity make for exceedingly strange bedfellows.

And since I normally sleep in the same bed with myself, you can imagine just how strange I am. All of this is a constant tumble in my head. Sometimes sending me barreling into absolute insanity.

But I take it all really seriously: the human condition; these multiple layers of reality that reveal wildly different suggestions of what’s really going on here. And of course, and more importantly, I constantly ponder the existence beyond this present one — this one that oddly seems so real.

Love is currently side-lining me again, as usual. And so I’ve been pondering the nature of love. I sat at my breakfast table this morning, listening to The Boatman’s Call on the CD player. (WARNING: Do NOT do this if you are sitting alone at your breakfast table at 6am, pondering the nature of love!! Just don’t do it!! Turn it off!)

So I turned it off. A word to the wise is sufficient.  I could not let the situation at hand get so far as song #4 on the CD, which is Brompton Oratory, or I would probably grab a butter knife and saw helplessly at my wrists… (Brompton Oratory is such a fucking beautiful song that I would only advise listening to it when you’re having one of those days where absolutely nothing matters to you at all. Otherwise, you will never live through it. Listening to the song, that is.)

Anyway. I digress.

I came to the conclusion — a conclusion I’ve come to before, btw, but this time it loomed huge and undeniable in my awareness: love is only and always a reflection of what you are putting out there. What you put out there and how you are feeling at any given moment, is just getting reflected right back at you.  Because what you perceive is always filtered through you and always projected through you and always interpreted through you.

So when you love somebody, or an animal, or a pet spider, or an entire movement of some sort, that feeling of love you get in return is really all about how you love yourself. At the very bottom line, that’s what it is. The love you think you’re sending out into the world (and of course, you are actually doing that) is all about how you are loving yourself. It has little to do with the “other.”

What it does have to do with the “other,” in my opinion, is that we are all coming from the very same starting point within the creation of energy itself — once you dig down deep enough, go back far enough, remove enough of the layers of what we consider reality.

So, yes, that means that I believe that to love each other means we are, in the truest sense, loving ourselves.  And that’s why I believe so strongly in forgiveness, too. We don’t really forgive others, we forgive ourselves.

So that’s what I was thinking about this morning.  And I felt kind of good about that; the idea that everything that’s coming back at me, even when I find it inexplicable on its surface, is just telling me a little more about how I love myself.

And yesterday, gang.  I finally made some needed headway on the revisions of the play! (Tell My Bones, which both Sandra and the director are patiently awaiting in NYC.) Thank you, God. I still have a ways to go, but that really troublesome spot I’d been languishing in for a few weeks already  is finally behind me! Yay. I am well into the midway point, but I was at it for 8 solid hours yesterday — and I am talking about 8 hours, primarily focused on 2 pages. And once I finally conquered those 2 pages, I got through 4 more before I had to call it a day.

The backs of my hands were aching and the back of my neck was in spasms from being hunched over this crazy laptop for so long yesterday. But then I did yoga while focusing very spiritually on reruns of the Dick Van Dyke Show and LMAO, and that seems to have taken care of  all the joint and muscle pains. And we will begin the process all over here today until the revision of this play is done.

So I guess life is good.  And thanks for visiting! Gang, I leave you with this, but DON’T watch it if you’re on the borderline of anything emotionally dicey! Otherwise I cannot be held responsible.  Okay, I love you! See ya!

Up those stone steps I climb
Hail this joyful day’s return
Into its great shadowed vault I go
Hail the Pentecostal morn

The reading is from Luke 24
Where Christ returns to his loved ones
I look at the stone apostles
Think that it’s alright for some

And I wish that I was made of stone
So that I would not have to see
A beauty impossible to define
A beauty impossible to believe

A beauty impossible to endure
The blood imparted in little sips
The smell of you still on my hands
As I bring the cup up to my lips

No God up in the sky
No devil beneath the sea
Could do the job that you did, baby
Of bringing me to my knees

Outside I sit on the stone steps
With nothing much to do
Forlorn and exhausted, baby
By the absence of you

c – 1997 Nick Cave

The Days of Exhaustion are Over!

Oh right! That’s funny… hahaha

It’s, in fact, quite the opposite around here. The exhaustion continues unabated.  But I’m still alive so I guess that’s the good news.

I’m still working on the revisions of my play Tell My Bones, for the staged reading coming up in NY at some point really soon. Yes, still tearing my hair out over that but I’m feeling hopeful that today might be the day it all starts coming together.

We can dream… (I know — when I’m accepting my Pulitzer Prize, this will all be a distant memory.)

And starting on Saturday, Peitor Angell and I finally  begin putting down in script form all those micro-short comedy films we’ve been creating together since last fall. We have something like 9 or 10 of them already.  We’ve spent the last few months trying to get the editing done on his incredible book, The Door, and then he kept dashing off to Italy, France, London, Dublin… (Don’t you just hate that? When you’re trying to work on something and then you keep dashing off to Europe?)

Anyway, I’m just saying. Life’s not going to let up any time soon. Once we get the scripts in order, we have to go through all that seeking out of funds to get the little fuckers produced and off (or uploaded) to film festivals.

Probably about 10 years ago, I was on the Board of Directors of the Columbus International Film Festival. And around that time, we started seeing categories getting added to other festivals for micro-short films and videos, made & viewed on people’s phones and stuff. And I just couldn’t wrap my mind around that, you know? Because I was used to dealing with lofty “International Films“!! So very serious.

And now, here I am, lo! but a decade later, and I’m not only watching videos on my phone all the time, I actually go off to Hollywood to create them. Just too funny how life unfolds.


Since it is officially Spring, and since any day now we’ll be wanting to wear all those spring-like fashions, I want to mention something funny here.  Most loyal readers of this lofty blog know that I am 58 years old, rapidly approaching 59, and even while I try to stay in shape and stay healthy, etc., etc., I’m also trying hard to age gracefully. And with that in mind, I try to wear clothes that are what a 58 year-old might wear. Well, a 58 year-old tomboy or something like that. Or aging hippy chick. I’m not sure what you’d call me.

Well, the other day at the Dollar Store, where I find all my best and favorite fashion choices, I found a cute pair of those stretch-legging denim Capri pants that everyone imaginable wears nowadays. I’ve shied away from leggings for quite a while now, thinking that “58” and “stretch, skintight leggings” aren’t a good thing to put in the same sentence. But these pants were so cute and so cheap, I thought “I have to have those.”

But I bought them a size larger than I usually wear because I can’t stand wearing anything that feels too  constricting, you know? So I took them home, put them on, and I was a little dismayed that, even a size larger, they were still tight around my waist and I wasn’t sure I could stand it. But from the waist down they were cute. Well, when I took them off to take my shower, I discovered the tag inside and saw that they were for “Juniors” — which means I’d bought a pair of leggings meant for teen-aged girls!!

Oh man! All of the sudden I was through the moon! Wow! At age 58, I can fit into a pair of stretch leggings made for a 15 year-old girl!! They’re a little tight around my waist, but, fuck, I’m wearing them!! Yay!!

Yeah. I’ve lost a lot of weight. Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that the minute I moved to Crazeysburg, for some inexplicable reason, I began to lose weight. In the last year now I’ve lost 32 pounds. And I haven’t even been on a diet. I’ve just been happy (for the most part, anyway.) (And those of you who have made me less than happy know totally who you are…heavy sigh) (PS: I went to another store and bought a similar pair of stretch-denim leggings that are actually meant for grown ups!)

All right. Well, let me get going here, gang.  God knows, I’ve got plenty to do today at this desk that does not involve blogging.  But thanks for visiting. I hope the world is unfolding beautifully, wherever you are in it!I love you.  See ya!