Running for Your Life: If the Greats Were With Us Thursday

If Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Workers Movement, were still alive she would make for the perfect running mate of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the longest serving independent politician in Congress.

Here’s what blessed Dorothy believed, according to friend and author Robert Coles:

“For Dorothy Day, anarchism meant increased responsibility of one person to another, of the individual to the community along with a much lessened sense of obligation to or dependence on the “distant and centralized state.”

Next: Running for Your Life: Summer Pace


Running for Your Life: Invest in Sweat Equity

When it comes to traditional investments, I’m pretty low-key. I’ve done none better than join with my wife M in buying a brownstone in Brooklyn in June 1992.  (She had some inheritance, I had just been hired by Birnbaum Travel Guides, a HarperCollins  imprint.) The rest is plain vanilla: a sliver of a company pension, a medium-risk 401(k), an M&L IRA. Stuff that rarely comes up in conversation – even with my wife !

As for risk, I invest in sweat equity. The charts tell me I run hard for my age. About 25 beats per minute above the top target range of 136 BPM. While training for Brooklyn 2015, I’ve been doing a hard run of 45 minutes on the treadmill. I’m sweating pretty good at twelve minutes. By the time I’ve crossed the tape at 45 – or about 5.2 miles from the first stride – I’m drenched.

And for hours afterward, feeling fabulous. Investing in sweat equity clears my mind, helps my appetite (for fuel foods like bread, nuts and fruit, pasta), pumps me up with energy, lightens my mood, contributes to my lights-out/without meds sleep history.

This might not be the kind of risk you want to take on in your portfolio. But if you do, and do it smartly, you won’t be sorry. If you ask me, it’s the key that turns the engine of a well-rounded investment strategy.

Next: Running for Your Life: If the Greats Were With Us Thursday  


Running for Your Life: Knausgaard, Some Notes

So much of what we have in Knausgaard’s “My Struggle” are sketchy figures acting on Karl Ove – Snoopy, of the serious literary set – not Charlie Brown because that figure turned what Charles “Sparky” Schulz did in the spiritual realm in a way that Knausgaard never truly develops. Knausgaard stands on the edge of that, surely. But in the end he is always the man – the father’s son – in his rants and rages and anxieties, while making no attempt to adopt the Dietrich Bonhoeffer message of service and sacrifice, what Sparky does with Charlie Brown, never being able to kick the football that Lucy (Lucifer) puts down for him, the triumph of humility that is never to be found, I daresay, in the six volumes of “My Struggle.”

In Volume I, the young Knausgaard fails in his attempt to swim in deep water, but yet we know he will not, in the end, be humiliated by that, or by the premature ejaculations of Volume IV. Here is where the Mein Kampf feels too close. Knausgaard as sensitive, superior white man, in his needs, his wants, his choice not to embrace any other idols but his own, the one that he has created and in that there seems precious little difference in intent than Hitler’s book of the same name.

Here is what Jeff Eugenides says in the April 23 edition of the “New York Times Book Review,” about Volume IV: “That you never wish to relinquish the perspective any more than, in your own life, you wish to stop being yourself.”

This could stand to reason why women I know seem less into Knausgaard than men. In the life of Western women, a norm (female teen suicide phenomenon) is that women are unfamiliar with the feeling – or a girlfriend’s feeling – that you never wish to relinquish the perspective (K’s solipsistic I) any more than, in your own life, you wish to stop being yourself. Well, women have wished and some continue to wish they could stop being themselves (ie, body image, pay inequity, domestic designated worriers …)

So, yeah, Knausgaard is an acquired taste. Women critics, too, have sung his praises. But I suspect these women, as girls, played well with boys. Shucks, they probably still play better with men than their fellow women. But that’s just a hunch …

Which doesn’t mean I’m not deep into the guy universe of this smart northern fella who blesses my own memories of a red-blooded boyhood to late adulthood. It’s just that I think I’ve framed a fair idea of why the average woman may not feel the same away about this writer's “Struggle.”

Next: Invest in Sweat Equity


Running for Your Life: I Believe in “Ghosts”

Maybe there is a better post-Shakespeare interpreter of the human soul than Ibsen. The rime of the ancient northerner. But I’m at a loss to know her. Cold and wet and how can we feel God, when the spirit rises, the wicked lays bare in adultery, philandering, incest and alcohol abuse, all in stark relief against the unpromised land, ridges of fjords where the light of Paris, the lamp glow of London is but reflected in tortured memory.

So Madame Alving believes in “Ghosts,” as she says near the end of Act One: “Ghosts – Those two in the conservatory – Ghosts – They’ve come to life again!”

Madame Alving must believe in ghosts in order to follow through with what her destiny – not fate, she has taken too much of an active hand in events – is to be. (Spoiler alert: No, I won’t tell you the ending here!) In the minor art of TV, it is like Betty Francis (Draper) of “Mad Men,” whose choice in the penultimate episode also is stark but certain.

I believe in “Ghosts,” the play by Henrik Ibsen, in ways that I believe in “My Struggle” by Karl Ove Knausgaard, his fellow Norwegian. They do not spare us. By my lights, great art should not.


Next: Running for Your Life: Knausgaard, Some Notes  

Running for Your Life: If the Greats Were With Us Thursday

When it comes to writing craft, to the heart of darkness, Henrik Ibsen would find a way to connect to young and old alike, consider these "Ghosts" pearls strung in the voice of the tragic Osvald Alving:

" He called it 'Softening of the brain' or something of the sort. (With a sad smile) Charming expression! It makes one think of cherry-colored velvet curtains -- soft and delicate to stroke -- "

Next: Running for Your Life: I Believe in Ghosts!