- In another part of this website called SeniorMusings.com,
I've co-written, along with his sister Norine, a biography about
Joe DiCarlo, to whom this website is dedicated and in part inspired
by. To help write another person's bio is indeed a privilege,
but also an imposing duty. A responsibility to do justice to
that person's individuality. And to recognize their mind, heart,
and soul. For what else are we but these ephemeral things which
then stir us to love each other, care for one another and see
God in another person's eyes or hear the heavens in their voice
or feel the angels in their touch. Joe DiCarlo has that magic
to stir us.
- When I visited him on a Saturday evening in June, 2000, I
was amazed that I was not freaked by what I saw. The very well-spoken,
brilliant writer I knew from open-mike nights at Encore Book
Store in Scarsdale 5 years earlier now stood before me grunting
out Yeses and Nos, and occasionally another simple word. To communicate,
he would answer Yes or No to a question, and his gestures and
facial expressions would communicate intensity and feelings.
Joe's 90-year-old mother was wonderfully helpful, helping to
fill in the gaps based on what she felt would be what Joe would
say. After fetching Joe pad and pencil, he painstakingly etched
out a few words on a pad to augment the communication. I knew
he had had a stroke and was left with what doctors call "expressive
aphasia," an inability to speak, and right-sided hemiparesis,
which is a weakness of his right leg and paralysis of his right
hand. To see him like this should be freaking me out, but it
wasn't, as I'll explain why later.
- One night I was speaking with Joe's mother and sister, Norine,
on the telephone and the next night I was at Joe's mother's house
picking up some of his writings to upload to a website devoted
to seniors who are 60 or over. I was in awe of the love and support
his 90-year-old mother and two sisters showed.
- Resonating in my head was the odd coincidence of Joe's upcoming
60th birthday on June 20, 2000 with the week I planned to officially
launch the SeniorMusings.com website focused on people 60 and
over. Not spooky but foretelling in a soulful way.
I think Joe's several writings on the SeniorMusings website will
bring the website to a recognition level that it ordinarily would
not have attained as quickly. Moreover, I think the internet
presence of a writer like Joe will show off the ability of the
internet and the sensitivity of its users to spread good words
quickly and far-reachingly. Writers and readers both benefit
- and big time.
- Joe's words have the power to stir mind, heart and soul,
like very few other writers. And in years past, his delivery
of those words would shake whatever sleepiness or complacency
might be hanging around your gray matter. When Joe recited his
poetry at the various bookstores on open-mike night which we
toured, all eyes and ears were on him in order to catch the human
dreams which he described so eloquently and we all knew were
still in us, even though sometimes in a dormant state. He would
spit out well-turned phrases like a machine gun, and better than
top rappers of our day. In rapid succession, the gorgeous words
would hit you between the eyes and invade your brain, which enjoyed
the attack and readied itself for continued onslaught. If you
happened to be a little tired, you immediately woke in rapt attention.
If you were drifting during the recitations of other poets, you
quickly were brought back into focus. If you prejudged the topic
Joe was dealing with, you very soon understood his point of view.
You would look around and see that other listeners were affected
the same way. The audience members melded into each other, transfixed
on his words and understanding his point of view, even if it
was controversial or revolutionary. There were always "ah
ha's" or "mmph's" and very few distracting coughs
or sneezes. Everybody was focused on Joe DiCarlo who was at center
stage at those Encore open-mike nights, and at the other places
we would visit as a troupe of touring poets on the town to spill
our guts to those who'd catch them.
- Anyway, I figured out now why I wasn't so freaked by seeing
Joe in this silenced and curtailed state. I realized why when
I saw next to him one of his recent paintings done with his good
left hand. Haunting, and like a magnet pulling me in. Looking
at this remarkable representation of two faces, staring at me,
I had a feeling of how it must have been for Leonardo DaVinci's
friend to view DaVinci's famous portrait of the smiling woman
as the painting neared completion. The friend must have known
that someday millions of people would view the painting, star
struck. How magnificent it was. That's how I saw Joe's painting,
and that's why I was not blown away by his physical condition
of near-silence and how sharply it contrasted with the rapid-fire
reciting of the Joe of Encore Book Store. Because I suddenly
knew, without a doubt, that he would use his prolific creativity
to share with the world in visuals for the time being until his
ability to share in audio came back. He would, at least for now,
appeal to our eyes instead of our ears. He would paint for now
while he could not recite. And funny thing, I knew then very
confidently that I would hear him in full voice soon, and I would
once again be able to drink in his wonderful words. And in the
interlude I, with the rest of the world, would be given a feast
for our eyes.
- Later that evening, I told Joe this was his test. That God
for some reason was giving him this test of coping with his near-silence.
He smiled, and his eyes told me the hundreds of words he couldn't
speak. We both knew his current condition would one day end.
- And so on this website called Senior Musings.com, you will
be able not only to read Joe's writings but also hear Joe recite
them as he did at Encore Book Store a few years ago, with the
passion and compassion that are his trademarks. Luckily, I taperecorded
many of the Encore readings, and with the magic of the internet
can bring them to life again on this website. My hope is that
somehow, just maybe, if enough people read and listen to Joe's
writings, and reflect on the writings, these people will be stirred,
and these stirrings will vibrate the airwaves, and, coupled with
the attention and love of others and their prayers, somehow these
writings, coming alive again, along with God's grace, will trigger
Joe to speak again, and at full throttle.