Rod & Sunny: Photo by Bob Gentry
A Thought for Today
The centerpiece of character is service to others.
ALERT! PETULA CLARK IN SAN DIEGO & PASADENA
Good news for Petula Clark fans. Pet's hitting Southern California headlining the cast of A Salute to the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
From November 7-12 she'll be at the San Diego Civic located in downtown San Diego at 202 C Street. For tickets
Then from November 14-19 she'll be at Pasadena Civic
Auditorium at 300 E. Green Street For tickets: 626-793-2122
Or you can call any California office Ticketmaster for reservations at either location.
If you missed her in Sunset Blvd., now's the time to catch her in her only California appearances this year. In person, Petula is always a revelation. A great performer who combines her acting and singing abilities to perfection
On to the E-mail box.
A YOUNG POET
Hi. My name is Hannah and I'm thirteen and crazy. I like your poem about your dog liking oranges but eating apples too. I found your book, Caught in the Quiet, in my mom's book basket. it was hers a long time ago. I sent that poem
to my friend Jeff and he liked the part about the straight lines.
I write poetry also. I have written two notebooks full. I think you're a talented poet. Maybe I could share some poetry with you sometime. Also if you ever get time please write me. Thank you, Hannah
Dear Hannah, Thanks for the nice thoughts on "My Dog Likes Oranges." I'm pleased to know that you write poetry and I hope you will enroll in a writing course in school.
Over the years I've made a rule I never break, even for friends. I don't read any poems or manuscripts that are sent to me. At times I've received as many as a hundred manuscripts a week so you can imagine that there just wouldn't be time to even dip into a stack like that. And, I couldn't be selective and read just a few but not all of them.
Besides I've learned that people don't want honest criticism, most just seek praise. If you join a writing class or a writer's workshop you'll get plenty of useful criticism and helpful hints on writing from fellow writers. You
can be a quondam poet without observing rules, but you need to learn form and storytelling to be a
poet as a profession.
Good luck with your work and if you want to be a writer badly enough, you will. All the very best, Rod
NEWS OF AN OLD FRIEND'S DEATH
Hi! Rod, Before I got with this computer, I wrote a letter to you about almost three years ago and now I wonder if you ever received it. My cousin, Joanie, died. She lived in Lake Tahoe - a real non-conformist. She told me she went to your house and how beautiful it was. Do you remember her? She had asthma very bad. Jane
Dear Jane, I dated Joanie briefly, before I want into the army. I remember one of our dates was to see Johnnie Ray at the Fox Theatre in San Francisco and afterwards we went to The Papaguaya Room at the Fairmont Hotel for dinner. Her asthma was so bad those days that she had to carry what she called "a wheezer," (sort of a glass tube) around with her everywhere she went. It used to embarrass her, but it didn't bother me. She was an extraordinarily beautiful girl with that long brown hair and a gorgeous smile.
I knew her mom too, and she was the real non-conformist.
I must say, Jane with every letter you write you trigger a pleasant memory of the old days back in Alameda and Oakland. I want to run the kind note you wrote about Mom's baking bread in an upcoming Flight Plan.
Really sorry to hear about Joannie's death, but I remember her as always being a bit frail. Thanks and love, Rod.
I GROW UP
Mr. McKuen, Do you consider yourself primarily a poet, songwriter, performer, classical composer or producer?
There must be something you like best or feel you do best?
William Leggo, Concord Mass
Dear William, All of the above. I hate to be cut off from any of the things I do. Being factotum isn't easy and I'm sure if I stuck to one thing I could probably give it more concentration and in the process become better known.
Unfortunately I like being involved in a myriad of activities and I wouldn't consider giving any of them up. I do each to the best of my abilities but I consider all of them on the job training. I hope I never stop learning.
When I grow up I may narrow the field a bit, but for now I'm pressing on on all fronts. Thanks for asking, Rod
Should you ever give up on someone that you love or have always loved and hope they will love you again? Cheryl
Dear Cheryl, Absolutely. Learning how to "let go" is even more important than understanding how to 'hang on.' There's no way you can make someone love you who isn't interested. The omphalos of love is that both partners care equally. Life is short, don't be afraid to get on with it. Good luck, Rod
ANSWERING MAIL PERSONALLY
Hi, I know you probably get asked this question a million times a day, but I was wondering if you ever answer any of your email personally (I mean directly respond to someone's email address).
I would like to write, but i would be embarrassed if what I wanted to say, or any response you may have were to show up on your web page. I'll keep my fingers crossed! :) Tish
Dear Tish, there isn't time for me to answer mail personally but why not write me using a pseudonym? Nobody has to know it's you, not even me.
Sometime the problems people write me about apply to others and my answer might be of interest to them as well. Don't be shy, just be anonymous. Kindest regards, Rod
Now where in the name of time did you pick that up! What a surprise to find it in the dictionary - I seldom have to resort to that at my age!
Love 'n prayers, Bea
Dear Bea, omphaloskepsis (n): the contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation. Oh, it's just one of those words I use in every day conversation. Love, Rod
WILL SOMEBODY ANSWER THIS?
Dear Rod -This is Chris MacAulif.....it's been a while so I don't expect you to remember my last name. We've known each other since the mid '60's, starting at the Rendezvous on Sutter in San Francisco and last talked at a club on Melrose in the late '80's. You were just about to take over as (or had been offered) the Presidency of the Songwriters Guild or could it have been ASCAP? I really don't remember which.
As another reference, I'm 56 now, was born in St. Mary's Hospital in a room facing Stanyan St. at Fell, so our
conversations started with this, and over the years have been many and memorable for me. I tried to reach you by writing to you via ASCAP 3 years ago, but I don't know if you ever got my letter.
I know your site says that you won't be able to answer emails directly, but I would like to ask that someone respond that you got this message because I would like to send another, but only if I know you will get it. I truly hope life is being good to you and that you are well. Best regards,
Dear Chris, I've wondered what you might be up to, but I've learned that sooner or later I hear from just about everyone I've known all these years now that I've got a
Website and an online address.
The Rendezvous was a great club, in fact my brother Edward used to bartend there. As for The Red Raven on Melrose, I liked it even better. I used to live about a mile and a half away. I'd start writing a song while hiking there (I still hadn't learned to drive a car) and usually finish it on the way home. "I've Been To Town," "You Pass Me By" and "Take Me Home Again" came about that way. Haven't been 'clubbing' since years ago when I gave them up to do concerts. Too noisy and I'm not a fan of most current music.
I didn't get the letter you sent to ASCAP and the last time we talked I was about to become the president of AGVA (American Guild of Performing Artists) Have been reelected several times and have held the post for 17 years.
Well, Chris, 'someone' got back to you, now it's your turn. Nice to hear from you. Warmly, Rod.
The first and last performance of yours I was honored to be present at, was at the Floral Hall at Southport, England, the year, oh I don't know about 1966 or so. I brought a book along to ask backstage if I could have it signed. But I never even asked, I could not and would not have presumed upon your privacy, after all, you had just given each individual member of that audience a personal performance.
Mr. McKuen, how lovely it is to be able to read your work again, please get that next book published, the internet is brilliant but there is nothing like owing your own copy. Thank you Janita
Dear Janita, I wish you had come back to say hello and have me sign your book. Maybe next time. Never feel shy or that you're acting like a schwarmerei by asking for an autograph. You can bet that I'm eager to play Southport again if and when I come back for an English tour. And I plan to work hard at making that happen. Thanks for remembering me and for the kind words.
Dear Rod McKuen, I've been a fan of yours since I first heard someone read your poetry in the late 60's. Thanks for the years of comfort and thought that your poems have
A few years ago I took a creative writing course, and we had to write a story. I wrote one about a beautiful girl who died, and as I was describing her she just appeared as an angel. Then what I wanted to use as the title hit me -- "The Cheeks of Angels" from your poems "Clouds."
What I wonder is if someday I get the courage to send it in somewhere and if (and the chances I know are a trillion to one) I get it published, could I get your permission to use that as the title. Then on the page before the story starts to use your quote, "Clouds are not the cheeks of angels you know, they're only clouds."? I love that quote. I will probably never submit it because it is based on a true story, but when I saw your website I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask. I don't know what the legalities are in something like this.
Thanks for reading this, and thanks again for all the pleasure you have given me through the years. Sincerely, Susie Welch
Dear Susie, Good luck with your book and by all means make reference to "Pushing the Clouds Away." The legalities are as follows
- on the copyright page it should say (in reference to the poem), "from Listen to the Warm by Rod McKuen, © Copyright 1967 by Rod McKuen and published by Random House. Used by permission."
If more than a single line is used then there is a small fee and permission must be granted in writing. All the best, Rod
ANOTHER OLD FRIEND HEARD FROM
Hey Babe, Thought you'd like to know that Bette has a music editor whose name you will recognize! Chris Ledesma. Long time since we talked. My sister Lynda is writing this for me since I don't have e-mail. Much love and kisses, Fredye
(Editors Note: Fredye is a friend of many, many years who was also the travel agent for all my tours and travel. Chris, her talented son, has been the editor and music editor on many top television series. "Bette" is, I assume the new Bette Midler series.)
Dear Fredye, Where are you? Now that I'm traveling again I can't do without you. Alas all the numbers I have on you are out of date. Write, wire, ring the bell. Much love and Edward joins me in saying we miss you. Love, Rod
We've recently gone on line. I was very happy to find you have a site---and happier to read you are healthy and working.
In reading your site, I was surprised to find you did not mention Glenn Yarbrough. I have always enjoyed not only your music and verse, but also G.Y.'s voice with your verse.
Would you share some information about those collaborations/ experiences? You both put so much emotion into your presentations. I am now in my early 50's. Your work and G.Y.'s got through many years in my early adult life. Now it is a wonderful part of my "listening for pure
enjoyment". Thank you! Krisb
Dear Krisb, Welcome to A Safe Place To Land and to the net. I'm glad you found us. You are obviously new to the site because other than Anita Kerr I don't think I've celebrated anyone on the Flight Plan more than Glenn Yarbrough. I've celebrated his
70th Birthday, advertised his concerts and spoken at length about our experiences in and out of the recording studio together.
Try going to the bottom of this page and writing his name in the search engine. My bet is you'll find more than 100 references to him. Again, welcome to ASPTL and I hope you'll visit often. Cheers, Rod
Tomorrow, more mail including lots of feedback. Sleep warm tonight (or even during your afternoon nap).
RM 10/14/2000 Previously unpublished.