True Love Forever, Examining the Resonance of the Teen Pop Ballad “Drivers License”

When you pull back the layers of a rubber corpse, you notice how the inorganic is so much more supple. All of those bound polymers, folds cold to the touch, inert, bouncing and lifeless, they don’t tear like real flesh.

I was listening to the SNL-made-famous Drivers License song which was like entering the morgue with gloves and goggles on, looking with clinical detachment to test the perimeters of an extracted tumor.

That teen song is a song that cries. Mariah Carey sings like that in Love Takes Time. Deborah Cox sings that way in every song. I’m sure there…

Trickery and Deception in Folk Tales and Life

Women have always been depicted as deceptively innocent fair maidens masking nefarious agendas or evil shrews disguised as kindly old ladies. The song of the siren was a warning about dangerous female power and Snow White and Rapunzel featured bitter aging women who would do anything to be young again (because what else is her life worth without youth and innocence?) Rosemary’s baby was about an ugliness inside, growing lurking, waiting to get out.

I googled the term “glistening malice” which I saw used in a review of a book of poetry and discovered a movie trailer of a critically-acclaimed…

Contemplating Spontaneity, Chance Encounters, and a Predictable Life One Year into the Pandemic

The house is calm. It’s blue, a corner house, in a historic neighborhood, in an almost mid-Atlantic city, the least southern of the southern states. But southern. The rain is coming down, as it has for days, in a steady, cold mop.

This is a well circumscribed era, and in this era, I have what I love and most want to protect around me every day. The pandemic has brought my world smaller but more concise. Trauma is a rumble on the highway far enough in the distance it sounds like a departing memory. But COVID has a horizon line…

Day 6 of 100 Day Project

The house: Inside, it’s cavernous, empty, clean, new, white. A blank slate. Full of possibilities. A dream home. The front. tick tick tick tick. It’s the sprinklers. Neatly mowed lawn. Don’t let your tires touch the grass. The back a ballet backdrop for the Metropolitan Opera House stage. Spanish moss like gossamer. Small wooden bridge. Muted tones of grey and brown and greige and green, cut in front of a sparkling blue sky. The house is on piers, built for rising waters. Though the front is restrained, uniform, built, the back can not be separated from its origins. Slavery. Freed…

Contemplating A Modern Education on Day 5 of the 100 Day Project

I thought I’d watched most of the French New Wave when I was younger but sitting down to watch Les Quatre Cents Coups (“400 Blows”) this weekend with my kids, I swear I’d never seen it. Truffaut tells the story in a linear fashion. And then and then and then. But it’s the long takes that tell the tale.

The endless footage of Paris streets include Montmartre, yes, but also neighborhoods like Pigalle and Place de Clichy which are not the ones swarming with tourists and gilded gates. The whole movie is marching, marching, walking here, walking there, from above…

Some Years, Easy Does It.

Us. Author and kiddos.

Here’s the scene: Sitting on the couch, three of us tucked under a blanket huddled over a kids fashion sketchbook, two sets of colored pencils spilling over our laps, the soft shushing sound of 3 hands drawing.

I’m doing the left figure. One of my 7 year olds, the right, and the other “adding a splash of color” to both. In the background, a singer sings runs on The Voice.

One daughter says “This is nice.”

“What is honey?”

“Sitting like this, drawing and watching a show together.”

This hadn’t been lost on me. This sort of contentment is pretty…

Did you ever get the feeling?

“Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still you had the feeling that you wanted to stay,
You knew it was right, wasn’t wrong.
Still you knew you wouldn’t be very long.
Go or stay, stay or go,
Start to go again and change your mind again.
It’s hard to have the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still have the feeling that you wanted to stay.
Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, si, do.
I’ll go.
I’ll stay.”

— Jimmy Durante, The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

This little ditty has been…

The Morning Mind — Day 2 of The 100 Day Project of Daily Fiction Writing

Last night I was reading a memoir by Jay Parini of his time with Jorge Luis Borges that kept me up past my bedtime. We’ve now just met the magical realist writer and he is wearing a tie described as having orange waterfalls and fish and the remnants of many meals. I ‘lol’d. You can’t create archipelagos of reality and color with a clean tie. When you’re trying to push through your defenses and mental chatter, something’s going to end up on your clothes.


100 Days of Writing Begins

I ran across the 100DaysProject on Medium and it piqued my interest as I was already back in my groove of daily writing . I looked up the hashtag and saw that most of the projects existed in the visual realm. Though the visual fuels my writing, I deal in words and I’ve got Big Urgent Writing Goals to tend to. I thought about how to both write and document my process and came up with a plan of how to encompass a wider girth of inner creative challenges.

Here begins my 100 Days Project…

We are reaching the end of one terrible drawn-out moment. Where do we go from here?

It’s 5am, I have two tabs open. One with flights to Paris 15 months from now and another with the question “how long can you book before a flight?” This is where I am . Looking for anything that resembles a future, no matter how distant. I already have 3 Airbnbs booked for summer, all within a 4-hour drive. Beach. Lake. Farm. I’m also perusing real estate without a plan.

Every since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been saying things will never be the same again. “The new normal” was a near instant refrain. Too instant. Like people…

Chauncey Zalkin

Creative writer and strategist / storyteller for brands. VP of Marketing at tech company. You can find me at and

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