Showing posts from January, 2016

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That time I wanted to pass myself off as Joyce Carol Oates #TBT

I submitted my first piece of writing when I was seventeen, a story about my first job, working at the employee cafeteria at General Telephone where my mother was a dispatcher. Rolling the 20# white bond backed by a sheet of thin blue carbon paper into my Smith Corona, I typed it out slowly, carefully, on a piece of erasable paper—and mailed it off to Cosmopolitan along with a cover letter. Not just to any editor at Cosmo, by the way, I sent it directly to Helen Gurley Brown. 

The piece itself, meant to be comical, was full of clumsy attempts at self-effacing humor.  I strived for a similar tone in the cover letter I addressed to Brown, completely clueless that the high powered editor in chief wasn’t the one reading unsolicited manuscripts. After I signed off I added the following PS. I could have said I was Joyce Carol Oates. What I thought that would accomplish I can’t imagine. That an unsatisfactory submission would get published because of a lame joke? 

No surprise, in the SASE I’d …

Above Ground on the London Underground: Day 15 ... Dulwich Village

I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. This is Day 15.
I’ve got a rough plan.I’ve been to the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Horniman Museum. Now I just want to have a look around Dulwich Village, before I hightail it back to Kew Gardens and get back on track on the Picadilly Line. Not exactly on track as it were, being that my whole point is to walk aboveground on the London Underground route.
I ask my waiter for the check and if he knowsthe best way to get from the Belair House—where I’m enjoying some mid morning tea—to the Village. I’ve heard there’s a bookstore there? He murmurs something about Lover’s Walk. I blush and blink my head off at the idea that he’s inviting me for a romantic stroll. I should never have told him that he reminded me of the actor that pla…

Moving Day [memoir]

I must be over it. January 17th has come and gone, and I didn’t even give that day, that Martin Luther King Day, twenty something years ago, a thought. Thinking about my son, turning twenty three this year, brought it all back.

We’d moved back to LA from a year living in Redondo Beach, in an apartment just across the street from the Pacific. Our son was born a few months after we moved in and I spent my days taking him on long, quiet walks along the Esplanade that bordered the oceanfront. During the week, the sand and the sea were beige and blue stripes that stretched forever with only the seagulls, and a stray beach goer here and there, breaking the pattern. Riviera Village, a few blocks inland was full of sleepy stores, hushed boutiques just out of my price range, and cafes where I had no one to join me for a cup of latte. In the early days right after my son’s birth, my friends found their way down to Redondo to pay their obligatory baby visits. After that it was mostly just the bab…

The art of everything [memoir]

I went to LACMA the other day to check out the exhibit by Diana Thater before it closes in late February. Thater works primarily in film, using motion & light with multiple screens. The piece above was inspired by, and filmed in, Monet’s Gardens of Giverny, filled with beautiful natural colors that transform when you step between the screen and projector. It’s an irresistible invitation to place yourself within the art piece, to become part of the show, as these millennials were to me. It got me thinking about art, and about museums, how much they they open us up to new ways of seeing.

The first famous painting I ever saw in person was the Mona Lisa, DaVinci’s masterpiece hanging in the Louvre. I was four, maybe five years old and it meant nothing. A small dark picture of a lady. For my parents the Mona Lisa was on the must-see while in Paris list, for us kids the Louvre was little more than an escape from the cold of a wintry Parisian day. 

The first painting by a famous artist I s…

Above Ground on the London Underground: Day 14 ... Dulwich Picture Gallery (and Mausoleum?)

Mary & Elizabeth Linley/Thomas Gainsborough I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. This is Day 14.

A couple of weeks ago I actually had a reader tell me where to go. No, no, no. Not there. Since I was in the Peckham neighborhood of South London, she told me to go to the Horniman Museum and Dulwich Picture Gallery, both nearby in Dulwich. I tackled Horniman last week, today I’m going to make the trek to Dulwich, and then—unless one of you leads me astray again—I’ll get back on the right track. 

The gallery is an easy mile and a half walk down the Circular Road which runs so closely to Dulwich Park—where rumor has it there’s a boating lake—that I simply can’t resist the detour. 

The lake is dotted with bright green paddle boats manned mostly by kids. Looking like a s…

The Name of the Game is Nostalgia #ThrowbackThursday

I can get a little nostalgic writing memoir—you might say it’s the nature of the beast—but there’s probably no place or time I get more soppy about than growing up in Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls was where I spent most of my elementary school years; it was where I learned to swim in the pool at the Cyanamid plant; it was where I broke my arm when I was ten; it was where my period came for the first time in the girls room at Princess Elizabeth Middle School and Niagara Falls was where I cried serious tears when we moved away when I was fourteen. But before that, Niagara Falls was where I had my first boyfriend, a boy named Randy Tuck. I was eleven and it was the same year the Name Game song came out. Remember?

The name game!  Shirley!  Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Banana fanna fo Firley  Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley! 
It was a huge hit all over the world but no place more so than in our schoolyard. We stood in our little clique circles and sang and clapped all our names but none gave us quite th…

The Die Hard Premiere: My first Alan Rickman sighting

This appeared originally on Chapter1-Take1where I post my book-to-movie stuff but this memory feels more at home here. I’ll file it under Brushes with Stardom.

I woke up yesterday morning to the news of Alan Rickman’s death. This one hit hard. Like Bowie, Rickman was sixty-nine. Like Bowie, cancer was the culprit. Like Bowie, Rickman had an iconic voice. And like Bowie, there was so much more. Rickman was on my mind, the sadness of his loss, the pleasure of his gifts, all day long. 
I have only been to a handful of premieres in my life. One of them was Die Hard back in 1988. I was working at producer Joel Silver’s offices on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank at the time. Burbank being the real Hollywood back then. Simply put, I was an office p.a., a gopher, but nobody really calls them that. My friend Connie, an executive assistant to Silver, got me the job when the LAUSD teachers went on strike. I’d been working as a substitute teacher and was loathe to cross the picket line. 

Instead …

Above Ground on the London Underground: Day 13 ... Horniman’s Museum & Gardens

I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. This is Day 13.
I try to live by the shoulder-shrugging “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” So when a reader suggested that as long as I was in Peckham on my virtual walking tour of London I might want “to stroll over to the wonderful Horniman Museum (due south) or the beautiful Dulwich Picture Gallery (south-west)” after a brief debate with myself about sticking with my plan, I shrugged my shoulders and said, why not? That’s the fun of travel, virtual or not, discovering new things, encountering unexpected pleasures. Thanks, Moira, for taking me along the road less traveled!

Old Camberwell Cemetery/ Photo by Katie Hare via
It’s a perfect day for walking, unusually balmy (why not, it’s make-bel…