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Showing posts from 2020

Before twitter there were fan letters: Dear Mr. Redford

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November 12, 1973 Dear Bob  Mr. Redford,I just had to write to tell you how hot and sexy talented, I think you are.  Laura and I bickered over who was more desirable — Robert Redford or Clint Eastwood — with as much fervor as we girls once debated who our favorite Beatle was, Paul or John, George or Ringo. Laura's mother, tiny Corky, curled up in her easy chair with a ciggie and a cup of tea, pronounced both actors 'tall drinks of water'. This was so long before  water became such a desirable commodity that we actually had to buy it by the bottle, back in the seventies when water was still free even in the once desert lands of Los Angeles, that I never quite understood the praise. But yes, Redford could put his shoes under my bed any time, as our mothers might have said, mostly about men whose paths they would likely never cross. I had it so bad for Robert Redford after seeing The Way We Were ; wishing I were Barbara Streisand with her impossibly long eleg

#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

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IT WAS A TIME OF TANS, BLONDS AND HOT PANTS, WHEN THE ENDLESS SUMMER WAS JUST A SHORT WALK DOWN A HOT SIDEWALK Beach Music, originally published in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, is really a tale of two cities: San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. File it under On the Street Where I Live     Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. B

The Height of Hubris : Climbing Notre Dame in 1989

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A Paris flashback for Dreaming of France. Voila! C'est moi with one of the iconic stone chimera of Notre Dame overlooking the entire city, the Eiffel Tower perfectly placed in the background as though by a giant set designer in the sky. I used to think the horned goat was a gargoyle but he's not. Gargoyles are the creatures fashioned into waterspouts, monstrous looking but serving the prosaic function of keeping water off the roof and the exterior walls of Notre Dame, minimizing damage from rainstorms. My bearded goat-friend is a chimera, a grotesque, one of hundreds added when the cathedral was restored in the 19th century by the architect Eugéne Viollet-le-Duc. Much of Notre Dame had been destroyed in the French Revolution, the French Revolution Mindy and I and a zillion other tourists and Frenchmen were celebrating that July in 1989. I was excited to climb to the top of Notre Dame but once I got to there and my friend Mindy wanted to snap a ph0to of me and my f

#3: The Boy Who Took Out His Eye

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#3, Tripoli, Libya We lived just outside Wheelus Airforce base in the '50s.  That's me on the back of the camel holding onto my big brother, Russell, for dear life. An expanded form of this story was published in the South Bay Reader in Torrance,  California almost thirty years ago when it won an Honorable Mention in a teeny, weeny writing contest. The Boy Who Took Out His Eye We lived in Tripoli when I was five years old, just outside Wheelus Air Force Base in Libya. We weren't military, we weren't even American but my father, formerly with British Intelligence had been hired to infiltrate the PX as a manager and investigate the cause of the store's outstanding financial losses. My dad turned out to be a great manager, in fact, he was responsible for bringing the hula hoop to North Africa, holding a big promotional party with hula hoop demonstrations, clowns, balloons, and lemonade in the parking lot. And he found the embezzler too, a good fri

#9.1 Snow Day

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# 9.1    Cherry Grove Road, Niagara Falls, Canada We hopped about quite a bit once we ’ d arrived in Canada from England via Turkey and Libya. We moved from Montreal to Toronto to Niagara Falls where we lived in a big old two-story house with a grassy lawn, surrounded by ancient maple trees.  Until my parents bought a house in Cherrywood Acres, a new development on the outskirts of town.  This is # 9.1 of the  “ On the Street  Where I Lived ”  stories. It ’ s a close up view of one day in particular.   Snow Day It was only a few miles from our gloomy old house on Ryerson Crescent to our family ’ s new split level across town in Cherrywood Acres but it could just as easily have been light years away. It was a whole different world out there in the barely built development where the cherry orchards used to be, everything bright and shiny and newer than new.  We moved to the new neighborhood in the middle of fifth grade, in the middle of winter. I hated Niagara Fal

Missing photographs

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That's me & my old man. My dad, daddy, dada. My father knows best. He would have been about forty when this picture was taken. I'm probably two, maybe two and a 'foff'. I had a little lisp so that's how I would have said it, not two and a half but two and a foff. So my mum used to tell me. We are standing, if I've got my familial history straight, in the back garden of my grandmother's house on Mansfield Drive in Hayes, Middlesex, about twenty miles outside London proper.  I wish I had just one photo of my father holding my own son in his arms like this, the way my sister does of our dad and her daughters. She has plenty of snaps of him playing grandpa: our dad standing in my parents' kitchen, holding one of the twins with both arms under her pink diapered bottom, one fat little baby arm thrown around his neck, her head on his shoulder, her other hand clutching at his sleeve. The look on his face; the pleasure he takes that he's been abl