i imagine that most families, like ours, have a Top Ten List of Favorite Songs that fell into place over the years of “good times” and “bad times,” some happy tunes, some very sad. Everybody has a different idea of “The Classics!” Most definitely in my family’s list, very near the top, would be Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”


Such a catchy little tune by one of Earth’s coolest princes – IMG_20160424_163723405but a LYRIC that takes a lifetime to learn, unless you come from the Islands, mon!

What Bob promises might not be so, unless the listener has chosen and learned to live a simple life. It is just like Saint Francis of Assisi said to his little brothers about their living with “the Lady Poverty.” She was not just a “path to holiness,” meant for a rare few. But, she was also your basic COMMONSENSICAL path to SANITY, offered to anyone who cared to share it.12928119_2038123459746049_2000814875429971080_n

It was the wisdom which the most beloved of saints learned from his “three little birds” IMG_20160424_164349

Francis used to pass on, then, to whomever would listen, “If we have possessions, then we have to WORRY all the time about protecting them. And the more we have, the more we worry. But, if we live simply, as the little birds do, according to the Lord’s Prayer, there is a much better chance Brother Bob of Jamaica is RIGHT ON, mon!”

It is all in that encounter that Jesus had on the road with that rich young man, who was obviously very attracted by, even envious of, Jesus and the Apostles’ peacefulness and joy, though they clearly had so very little. He asked what he had to do “to get me some o dat?” It is one of those times, in the original text, where THAT WORD comes in, that word which i just love, expressing the Lord’s response, when a horror comes over the man at the very thought of giving up his things. SPLAGCHNIZOMAI!!!! Jesus’ Heart, Jesus’ GUTS BURST! So filled was He with sadness for that poor soul….and for all of the rich people of all time – or, that is, for the ones who could not let go. Jesus’ guts were exploding, because more than anything else Jesus wants EVERYONE to share the REAL TREASURE, which is not in things but plainly and simply in the Joy of Being Loved and of Loving in Return.

Everybody who loves St. Francis, which is just about Everybody. Period. in their love for him lies the same longing, even the same jealousy, for his simple peace. But to seek that peace sincerely means to acknowledge that all the other STUFF will always get in the way. Saint Paul was the most blunt of all about it. He called it – even the fanciest, shiniest, sparkliest bits of it – “GAAAAHHHBAGE!”

Now, don’t get these THREE LITTLE BIRDS, Jesus, Paul, and Francis wrong. None is calling these things we have around us in our lives EVIL or Bad. They are good, they are blessings, but they are also with us for a reason, namely to tell us we are loved, so loved, and – then – hopefully we will want to share them with anyone else in need. It is like the woman, whom the prophet promised would have all she needs, if she shared with him her last piece of bread. “Your Jug Will Never Run Dry if you do two things: Trust Totally and Share Totally! Can you do that?”

Can i do that? Well, there’s the question. There’s the CATCH to the Bob Marley Method. Yes, every little thing WILL BE ALRIGHT! if you live simply…When you live simply, freely, you are ready for the storms. They cannot really harm you. For you know where the Treasure lies…deep within, not without.

A TRUE BROTHER!!!!!on the Streets of Philadelphia


One day this week it was my turn to be victim of a hack (not to mention a couple hundred friends who had to put up with crazy emails begging to SEND MONEY, PLEASE!!!) The FBI came to the rescue, though nobody could help me through the pit of fixing my accounts. At the end of a long long day of dealing with one more DARK human bean, i went to sleep with a great big smile and the silver-lined-HOPE in the Goodness of Humanity.

As far as i know, only one fell for the scam. And it’s not because he’s a dummy. It’s because all he needed to see, in the first words, was that his childhood pal needed help, and he jumped – and sent all he had in his pocket! His reason: “I JUST LOVE YOU, MAN!!!” He acted from the heart, not from the head. That’s my JOEY PERILLO – Or OUR Joey, as so many know and love him!

Joey was made in the mold of his precious mother – and of his “Other Mother,” Mrs. Robinson, my mom, who used to say, whenever we lost money, “It’s alright. Someone needed it more!” Two people who, too, acted much more from the heart than from the mind and who meant to teach us to always keep our “crazier selves” open to those in need.


But, Joey, little Joey, my buddy on the diamond, would have more than our mommas to mold him. No one could ever have imagined through the joys of our youth what awaited this unique character, who was destined for greatness. Just after our little boy fun, but still in his youth, he would, as the Bible says, “be tried like gold in the crucible of fire” – truly! It was the first real tragedy that most of us kids ever had to face. Our pal, Joey, a young man on one of his first jobs, caught in an explosion, enduring one of the ultimate sufferings a human can face, burned over the majority of his super-active body. And then, with all of us forced to just imagine and PRAY from afar, Joey endured all of the treatments – worse than the fire!

Now, this Joey Perillo was already one of the toughest hombres in the Old Neighborhood of Edgemoor Gardens of Wilmington, Delaware, a Real, Live “Fonz.” i will never forget the time we were at a big party at Mary Ann Blake’s house on S. Cannon, and some gang was out to kill me and Jimmy Peltz. i was literally up against the wall, when suddenly the crowd parted, and Joey stepped in to save me. i never knew what he said or did – maybe nothing? That’s just how he was, the respect he commanded.But this catastrophe was way beyond the scope of even Joey’s strength or “Cool.” How can he take it? i must have asked myself, and God, a thousand times over those long months, helpless…


Since Ancient Greece theatre has always been symbolized by two masks, one of agony, representing Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, and a smiling, laughing Thalia, muse of comedy. The two are always together, never apart, because that is the way life is. Kahlil Gibran in “The Prophet” said that “the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” But, all the words in the world cannot compare to one real human soul who takes such suffering and comes out with the same, only infinitely richer, laugh, and a limitless contagion of humor and of compassion. That is Joey Perillo. (i know, Joe, how loud you are laughing at what i write of you! But that, TOO, is YOU!)

How did he do it? There can only be one answer in the end. It certainly was not an easy road. There was agony upon agony upon agony in his life. However, Joey has known Great Love…be it his Mother’s or Father’s or Sisters’ or Brothers’ or Friends’ or Higher Power’s. Whatever the source, it was there. It became perfectly clear somewhere along the way of the Great Companions, of which i am so privileged to have been even the tiniest one.

Joey Perillo became an amazing actor – on the silver screen and the smaller screen, and especially on various stages in and around Philadelphia. He even landed a role as Denzel Washington’s assistant in the masterpiece, “Philadelphia,” chosen as the guy who must show IN A FACE the whole world’s fear and repulsion – at the time – of those, like Tom Hanks’ character, who suffered from AIDS. Our Joey NAILED IT, only showing what a tremendous actor he is, BECAUSE THAT IS NOT MY JOEY!!! He usually wears his heart on his sleeve. His Crucible – and His MANY Mothers – molded him into such a LOVER, of Life, yes, even with its angst, and of his BROTHERS, namely everyone who was hurting or laughing through the hurt. THAT’S my TRUE BROTHER – on the streets of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The Beauty of it all is that JOEY doesn’t act when he loves.

940884_10208940722500067_1890781920967101244_n Now, there will be those who don’t seem to like my friend, but JOEY PERILLO, i LOVE YOU, MAN!!!




The Man in the Back (and the beat goes on…)


Sweet Tevye sang, “If I were a rich man…” And i myself AM a very very very rich man! Though my net worth, materially, the banks like to tell me, is way below zero, i am FILTHY RICH! Highest in those riches are SUCH GOOD FRIENDS, and one of them is a lifelong bud named Tommy Stanford. Tom is a Creator and Collector of Art and Autographs – & Tattoos.

405608_467931636621471_556628040_n A regular Whitman!

Tommy just SCORED A DANDY, and he knew that i’d be thrilled!!!!! Of all my rock n roll heroes – and boy, i had a bunch! – there’s been none so dear to me as Charlie Watts, the now 76 year old, or should i say 76 year young-and-still-drummin, still Rolling Stone, the classy guy in the back.

My pal sent Charlie a sketch of him in “Ancient Times,” and “the legend” responded with a Thank You to “Tommy Tattoo”IMG_20160421_082319

What is it that made this man so beloved of so many like me? Maybe it is that powerful, but most difficult, piece of wisdom, “The Ultimate Test of Character is the Temptation Resisted.”Charlie lived most of his life in the very heart of that world of temptation. Many many of his colleagues have openly, actively competed for the Grand Prize of Most Women Won, and that on top of most mind-altering-substances-consumed, while Gentleman Watts famously stayed true to One. Such a dirty word in the Biz but Charlie remained “FAITHFUL” to his wife of 52 years, Shirley.

THAT AMAZING FEAT when thousands of “pretty little things” threw themselves at him over a half century of ROLLING…THAT, and perhaps an even bigger reason why we love him so. What the heck is a song without the BEAT? Try to imagine, for example, “Painting It Black” without those sticks of the man in the back!!!??? Charlie Watts was – HECK, still IS at 76, THE BEAT, the Heart of the Beat, the quiet man, the humble man, the ESSENTIAL MAN. i always called him and Ringo and Steve Gadd “the Heartbeats of Rock n Roll.”

OOOOOOOHHHH! It wasn’t easy, such a feat. Charlie’s far from perfect, and sure, there were cracks, even MAJOR BREAKS, in that HEART, but he will always be known as one of the Classiest of Class Acts, for his Faithfulness.


One point that Mother Teresa never got tired of making was that “in the end it does not matter if we are rich or famous, how many houses or cars or boats we had, or how lovely we appeared. All that counts in the end? Were we FAITHFUL???”



A dog is never happier than when it is riding in the car with the fam, head hanging out the window. The combination of the comforting love within and the Love of its Life outside, the Wind, make for sheer ecstasy.

Now, Wait! i spoke too soon. Maybe there was one place better in the life of our Rudy. When our son, Ben, was attending SUNY Stony Brook, we would visit him by way of the Bridgeport, Ct., Ferry across the Long Island Sound. Rudy was with us on one trip, and when the Wind went under his ears, he almost turned into Rudy Pan.


Often i have sung the similarities of Rudy and his Creator, but this might be the ultimate connection. The Biblical word for God actually means “Wind” in English, and just as a moth is so drawn to a candle flame as to be willing to dive right into it, so our pups are connected to the core with the Maker. A dog has the Wind in its soul. “My soul cannot rest until it rests in You,” wrote St. Augustine. GOD + DOG = ONE

So in love with the Wind is our Rudy that on breezy days we cannot get him into the house. Even when the night falls, he prefers to stay in the breeze. At the moment our family is trying to come to grips with the fact that a Wind is not very far away, which will be coming to carry our Rudy Pan away, the same Wind which once upon a time long ago delivered him to us – out of the grip of a monstrous abuser. We are savoring every day with him until that Wind shall surely sweep him back up and away.

Very soon we will look into his brown eyes and HEAR, “Please, let me go home now. I will surely meet with you later. Thank you for saving me long ago from a wicked man and for giving such a safe and cozy, loving home, both inside and outside. I will put in a good word for you, my Master Companions.” A Great Ferry is coming soon to carry him across the Sea of Death into the Land of the Free Forever.

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Mahatma Gandhi used to say, “Every Child that is born comes as a LOVE-LETTER from God, saying, ‘LOOK! I HAVE NOT GIVEN UP ON YOU YET!'” Gandhi’s Hero, Jesus Christ, seems to have felt that way about every seed. He spoke so often and so passionately about the POTENTIAL and the POWER of each and every one for bettering, beautifying, feeding the earth – and even, when referring to the seeds of FAITH WITHIN US, “to move mountains!”


Though at every moment of the year they are being planted somewhere, right now we are at THE SEASON OF THE SEEEEEEEEDS!!!!! As soon as i finish this reflection, i will be out in the dirt with my Rudy, trying to revive my lawn. i hold in my palm these little heart-fuls of seeds and actually see a dirty dead mess A NEW SEA OF GREEN!!!!

When i hear the horrors of this year’s presidential primary/fiasco, when i consider many of the words coming from the mouths of these “potentials” for LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD, i look back to 1896, 1900, AND 1908 when the Democrats’ candidate was William Jennings Bryan. WOW! THREE ATTEMPTS, but the Republicans then were so together!!!!!! Though he did not win, oooooohhhh, how Bryan did inspire!!! Oh, how he made people THINK and BELIEVE in our POTENTIAL…in what America could be! Even before Gandhi, he spoke so eloquently and lovingly of each person as a vessel of hope. And maybe no one – except Jesus – marveled at a seed more than William Bryan. One day he was asked by an atheist about “the mystery of God,” and the Congressman from Nebraska (who, by the way, “felt the Bern” way before Bernie, his lifetime goal being to break the banks with their “evil money power” and put more in the hands of the hard-working common man), William Bryan said to that man:

”Observe the mighty power of the watermelon seed. It draws from the earth and through itself 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how a tiny watermelon seed takes this material and out of it colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of that a white rind, and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with tiny black seeds, each one which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 times its weight; when you can explain to me the mystery of one watermelon seed, then I’ll explain to you the Mystery of God.”

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Always glad, though never proud, to surrender to the truth of my Knuckleheadness, i have used this blog on many occasions as a confessional. Today i’ll let loose a biggie. As my buddy, Tommy Stanford, likes to say, “Life’s a Gas, Let it Pass (holding crap’ll kill ya!)”

St. Augustine, one of history’s most famous sinners, thanks to his own admission, told us clearly from his first failing how one of the strongest roots is peer-pressure, as much so in the 4th century as in the 21st. That Ugly Ogre was breathing down my neck those days. It was long ago, back when minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. Though just a teen, i was offered $11.50 for a summer job, YIKES! Move over, Donald J.T.! i’m hot stuff! Not easy work, of course; here was a kid doing a man’s task, cutting pipes in the “Bathroom World of Speakman.” (i made 1000s of those pop-ups for your sinks.)

But, that being said, my REAL main occupation was trying to win over the “giant kids” inside the men of the crew, constantly engaged in practical jokes were they, which nearly even cost me fingers. But oh, how cool they were – and made me wannabe! So, i set out to prove myself.

The factory was in Delaware, and just behind it ran the B&O Railroad. And right there, smack dab in our faces, was a real live hobo haven, not a whole camp but definitely one cool stop on the journey. There was easy on/off access to freight trains and a perfect shady rest, a secret hideaway known only to them – and to the boys inside those windows.And there was one special area just perfect for the traveler’s relieving himself, well sheltered by trees and shrubs, but not safe from me and my 25-foot pipes. i found an even better use for them than pop-ups. How about creating a stampeding elephant right through hobo heaven in the city of Wilmington? As from their windows my pals would watch,  i slid my weapon out in silence, only to get it behind their heads and BLOW!!!  making these poor souls jump out of their skin, many a naked butt a-shining, many landing right in their brew. Forty plus years later i still see their horror – and still hear the laughter. i was a hero; i was definitely TOO COOL! at the expense of the hobos.


BUT THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED! Or should i say SOMEONE HAPPENED! Then came a sharp turn in my tracks. THE GOD OF MERCY decided to give me another chance. That very same summer i would be rescued from myself.

And it wasn’t very far away from that B&O HOBO STOP. Up the road a bit there in Wilmington stands a very special hospital just for children. It is known as the A.I. duPont Hospital, and that summer a friend of mine happened to be a patient there. One day while i was visiting, another patient for some unknown reason (in time known as MERCY) had picked me out of all the other people in the place to be her pal – and to play a game of Peekaboo. She was really good at it, and while at first i had no desire to play, something made me go along. When i decided to put a stop to it once and for all, that’s when SHE DECIDED TO PUT A STOP TO ME!!! Right in my tracks. As i quickly caught her, i caught the reason for her game, as she did not think i’d be quick to receive her. This little girl only had a half of a face. It just might have been the first time i REALLY PRAYED, i mean, not some well-memorized old-time prayer but a real live straight from the heart – OR MAYBE FROM THE GUT, as that was where i was really aching at that moment. i prayed that i could stay there with her, really look her in her eye. i prayed, as if for the first time, TO SEE!

Isn’t that what she was saying to me? Or what God was saying to me through her? Saying about my hobos? “WAIT…TURN AROUND…GO BACK…LOOK AGAIN, boy! I Believe you have it all mixed up.” Think again. Is there anything SO COOL AS COMPASSION? And if you consider in whose image you were molded, IS ANYTHING MORE MANLY THAN MERCY?! Nothing!

My little girl-friend opened my eyes, the ones in my head and the ones in my soul. She taught me that people can be so so different from me, and this is REASON to CELEBRATE and to support them, rather than mock them or knock them down. Then, what a wonderful world this could be.

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Oh, i do not mean by this that i fully learned my lesson or that i still don’t do stupid things, make knucklehead mistakes. i simply mean that from that point in my tracks ONWARD i could no longer excuse myself. i rely totally on the Mercy of God and live in awe of the ways in which He chooses to show it. Always AMAZING Grace.


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Watching one of our favorite television shows, GRIMM, the particular episode was called, “The Kiss of the Muse,” having to do with that being whom the Ancients considered a goddess, providing inspiration to the artist. Grimm, of course, focused on how such beings might be very positive or very very evil. They’d have us ask ourselves, “Who’s my Muse?!”

i thought immediately of a man like Pope Francis, who JOYFULLY and frequently declares to the world that his MUSE IS THE ONE MUSE THAT MATTERS, MERCY, the very Heart of God. But then i recall the story that is so often repeated in sermons…of the little child who was screaming to Mommy from his bedroom due to nightmares. In her varied attempts to comfort him the mother said, “When you are scared, pray to God,” to which the child answered, “That’s nice, Mommy, but I’d rather have somebody with arms to hug me.”

Pope Francis is very much that boy. While he talks about this Mercy of God, he constantly uses – or BETTER YET, gives – examples of MERCY IN THE FLESH. i myself find this MUSE everywhere i look. The other day i blogged of how i found him by the onions in ShopRite!!! But, as my readers know, in fact the area they have best connected with me, i’ve hardly found a surer Muse of Mercy than in my lifetime of dogs, present company especially, my Rudy!

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When we think of the Muse of a Saint such as Francis of Assisi or John of the Cross, we speak of “Falling in Love with Love Itself,” and, well, That IS Life with these such Great Companions, our wonder-beasts. It is the common link with which i can so easily, effortlessly, connect with people everywhere on the tried n true proof of God, namely, this unconditional love we all encounter, this faithfulness no matter what, this vigilant watching over us, that joyous explosion of love upon our return after we’ve been away, even if it was, say, for ten minutes.


From my very first puppy to my very ancient Rudy, who, as we speak, is getting ready to return to the “Paradise” which loaned him to us as our perfect friend and muse, my favorite link of all to the Divine is this way in which they communicate with us. Every dog has taught me, far more than any priest or nun or spiritual master, that the Secret is in the SILENCE. Only those who learn the value – and the method – of Silence will ever learn to truly TUNE IN to the ONE TRUE MUSE, the Heart of God. And this attribute coincides with the ability to look beyond what we see with our eyes. Over the centuries in Art the most common image of the muse is that of a woman so breathtakingly “beautiful” in the ways that the majority of men define the term.



THAT LOVE IS REAL and that REAL LOVE is all that matters, not money, that luxury, not fame, not a fancy house or car or boat, just companionship with a True Beauty known as Love.