Best Story of the Week…March 25th

I’m walking on Madison towards home. Up ahead is an elderly woman with a large L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bag.

I watch as she stops every few steps to rest.

I sidle up alongside.

“That looks heavy. I seem to be going your way, so may I help? We can carry it together.”

She sizes me up making sure I’m not about to rob her before saying, “No, I’m alright thank you,” looking at her watch.

The seer that I am says, “Are you going to the Express Bus stop, by any chance?”

“Yes, as a matter a fact I am,” she says, “and I’ll probably miss the 4 o’clock and have to wait for the 5.”

“Not if you let me help you, you won’t.”

After mulling this over she says, “Well, okay.”

We each take a strap, and boy, even with two of us, it’s heavy.

“What do you have in here, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Passover.”

“Oh,” says the shiksa.

We get to the bus that’s just pulling up, and she says, “I’m fine from here.”

“Are you sure?” I ask, “because I can help carry it onto the bus.”

There’s a middle-aged Latino man smoking, with a Spider-Man lunch box also waiting, listening to our exchange.

He says, “Don’t worry, I got it from here.”

We both smile, but the best part?

So did the woman who with little resistance, let him, making you wonder if he really was Spider-Man. 

Hey, it is New York after all.  🙂 

 SB

 

Posted in Culture, food, humanity, humor, inspiration, New York City, travel, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 41 Comments

War Is Hell

I was perusing Bruce Catton’s classic book, Surrender at Appomattox, when I came across William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous quote, war is hell.

After accepting the pandemic as a foreign enemy we just can’t see, I’ve concluded, it sure is.

Seems that fear and the virus are still doing their damned duet, attacking in equal measure with no end in sight despite the rise in vaccinations.

Yes, like a puppy, I have had my shots, but this seems irrelevant to my floor mates.

There are two people in particular, still treating me whenever we meet, like a leper, and with ferocity I might add. I always pause before pouncing in defense, because I know they’re not at their best, but beginning not to care.

Enough is enough.

Individuals should realize, this isn’t only happening to them, it’s affecting all of us, and we’re finally, if you take your smug heads out of your ass, coming out of the wilderness.

We are, so buckle up neighbors.

Kindness, by the way, should be up front, not ricocheted resentment wrapped in fear like a bad burrito.

We lead by example, and goodness comes with little cost.

To quote the Talmud...The highest form of wisdom is kindness.

I personally think, that, and smack your neighbor should become  law.

  Glad I got that off my chest. I’m now a whole new girl.  🙂

SB

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Susannah’s Spring, Summer Reading List…2021

I’ve been on a French kick…

so try picturing me in a beret with an Hermes scarf tied coquettishly around my neck, humming Frère Jacques.

Books can do that, change your identity so even your own mother wouldn’t know you.

Warning…

A very eclectic list.

First up: 

Close Up and Personal: The Private Diaries of Catherine Deneuve…2005. A short film diary she casually kept, along with an in-depth interview at the end, launching my gay Paree reverie. Fiercely independent, having two children out of wedlock, her notes leaving you yearning for just a little more of her elegant, edgy allure.

Depardieu: A Biography, Paul Chutkow…1994. After reading about Madam, I wanted the male version, so who better to canoodle with on the page than with France’s hottest leading man. Wonderfully written though a bit restrained being authorized by his subject, but peeking between the lines you’ll glean all those naughty nuggets the author possibly at gunpoint, graciously left out. I guarantee, even edited, Monsieur Depardieu, bigger than life, will not disappoint. Who said he’s fat? That just means there’s more of him to canoodle with.

Bardot, Deneuve, and Fonda: My Life With The Three Most Beautiful Women In The World, Roger Vadim…1986. I had no idea Roger Vadim was such a good writer, only the director of the cheesy film Barbarella, and first husband of Jane Fonda. Shame on me since he speaks of these three women with such touching, reverent regard minus bitterness nor rancor that, well, if he hadn’t gone to that big director’s chair in the sky at the age of 72, I’d call him.

Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, And Survival In Peace And War 1930-1944, Anne De Courcy…2020. You glimpse the opulence of the rich right before the Germans march in. What moved me most was how it blatantly displays the horrors of The Holocaust. How swiftly it took so many lives on many different levels reminding me that, though our past year has been rough, it’s been a stroll in the park compared to what these people went through.

The Belly of Paris, Emile Zola…1873. In Anthony Bourdain’s Last Interview and Other

Conversations2019, he said, this was one of his favorite books, and do I see why. The vividness of Zola’s prose…the food, the people, the shop keepers selling their succulent wares, made me fall blissfully back in time, my mouth watering. Imagine a book so old that can still do that. I warn you though, you’ll be eating like an ape while you read.

 

Madame De Pompadour, Nancy Mitford…1953. The most famous femme fatale of her time, offering no apologizes for her occasional naughty, bawdy behavior that only a writer like Madam Mitford could convey with such wicked delight. Now it would have been a runaway hit, but in 1953, it was panned as history written as a novel. Nancy was just ahead of her time is all, her critics needing to catch up.

The Coldest Winter: A Stringer In Liberated Europe, Paula Fox…2005. Again, I was bitch-slapped over my mewling of masks and a non-existing social life learning what it was like in Europe after World War II. How people struggled and survived by their wits and divine determination to just stay alive. Ms Fox dying in 2017 in her 93rd year, as a young reporter, her recollections 80 years later still fresh and raw… compelling.

The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir, Andre Leon Tally…2020. Look out, here comes the Czar of Chic. Did I enjoy this, especially all his recaps of the many legendary Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Galas he attended with all its fashion bells and whistles. Discovered by the eminent Diana Vreeland, partnered with Vogue’s Anna Wintour, the Devil Wears Prada who really only wears Chanel, along with his take on all he saw, many of the players long gone, made me read this in one lavish sitting tempted to change into a little black dress and pumps. Now that’s what I call a night out, without leaving your apartment.

A Movable Feast, Ernest Hemingway…1964. How could I not add this to my list, a book that encapsulates Paris in the early 1920s when you were young, in love, broke, well read and hopelessly hopeful. Published after he died, Papa had no idea he hit such a grand slam (my homepage, courtesy of writer/artist David Stewart, displays an excerpt).

Mike Nichols: A Life, Mark Harris…2021. I devoured all of its 594 pages, my only complaint, wanting more. Mr. Harris respectfully acquaints you with the whole man…his home runs, strikeouts, a lifelong struggle with depression, a limitless, lavish lifestyle along with his legendary generosity, leaving you loving this rare, talented man, his humanity howling on every page.

Marilyn Monroe: The Last Interview and Other Conversations…2020. How I adore this series, and Norma Jeane Mortenson doesn’t disappoint. After being in more than 20 foster homes, running away, becoming who she was when the lady, deep down, was so much more, the exchanges making me understand her better. What I loved most, it’s as if she casually stopped by for a chummy visit. 

Fred Rogers: The Last Interview and Other Conversations…2021. I owe Mr. Rogers an apology after my snarky remark…what, they choose him over Carrie and Maya…really? Well Fred, in your neighborhood up in the ether, of the 21 Interviews I’ve read, you sir are in the top 5, kindness towards all children your eternal theme.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Last Interview and Other Conversations…2020. Never realizing how important this woman was and continues to be, her voice still echoing among the great in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol where she, as the first woman to hold the honor, laid in state. When her fellow Supreme, Antonin Scalia would correct her grammar privately, rather than get rattled, she’d thank him with the grace of a Supreme Court Justice we may never see the likes of again. I wish I could claim a tenth of the integrity, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had. 

Rage, Bob Woodward…2020. I’m not a Woodward fan but did like this simply because, as an old school journalist, showed you the whole board on Donald J. Trump’s presidency, rather than just what he wanted you to see. It’s a fast, furious read you won’t put down, shaking your head as you turn each page.

Eleanor, David Michaelis…2020. A fascinating read since you learn why and how Anna Eleanor Roosevelt became who she was. Betrayed by her husband, losing her beloved father to alcoholism, a mother embarrassed by her plainness, neither living to see their only daughter become one of the greatest, most important women in history.

The Dead and the Rising: The Life of  Malcolm X…Les Payne and Tamara Payne…2020. A hero and then some that after reading, trained it to Harlem where the Audubon Ballroom once stood on Broadway and 165th Street, where at the age of 39, Malcolm was gunned down in 1965, a plain copper plaque commemorating his last day. The man, so brave, so righteous deserving much, much more than a mere sign. A great read that sheds much light, as one reviewer puts it.

She Come By It Natural: and the Women Who Lived Her Songs, Sarah Smarsh…2020. Simply short and sweet packed with delicious Dolly lore. A true philanthropist doing more for others than any of her peers, placing her on the same heroic pedestal as Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, her song, I Will Always Love You, having a whole new spin.

  The Best of Me…David Sedaris…2020.   A collection of essays, that if you’re a fan, a must-have. My only disappointment, my favorite, The Santaland Diaries when he was an elf at Macys, wasn’t included. I’ve said this before, but Sedaris is the only writer who’s ever made me laugh on the subway.

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A Memoir Of Good Food And Bad Boyfriends, Giulia Melucci…2014. Love and food do a poignant duet as this clever, funny, foodie cooks for her readers wrapped in heartbreak. A great, fearless story-teller, the title alone deserving a nod.

One Last Lunch: A Final Meal with Those Who Meant So Much to Us, edited by Erica Heller…2020. Is there someone if you had the chance, you’d like to have one last meal with? A clever, entertaining collection compiled by Joseph ‘Catch 22’ Heller’s daughter, an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree.

My favorites: Christopher Hitchens, Frank McCourt, Paul Newman and Jackie Onassis.

Dark Night Dawn: On Revival And Courage, Anne Lamott…2021. It just may be her best, in inspiration and hope for a brighter post pandemic future. Part poet, part Catskill’s comic with her Christianity woven in like a silky thread, a mere 200 pages you won’t regret.

Baar’s Guide To Paris, Laurent de Brunhoff…2017. 

A grand finale that belongs on my shelf next to Ernest and Madam De Pompadour to remind me of the best places to go the next time I find myself on the Left Bank for real.

An elephant, after all, especially one so well dressed who can read a wine list, never forgets how to have a good time.

Remember folks, when you have a book, you always have a friend.   

Oui?     

Happy reading   🙂

SB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Books, History, humanity, humor, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 37 Comments

Best Story of the Week…March 19th

I’m en route to the dentist way downtown.

I have two.

Dr. Levine whose fees rival college tuition, and the place my insurance overs. I choose the latter hoping they can tell me without emptying my wallet, why my gum is doing the tango.

I get lost since, it’s a part of town that I’m not all that familiar with, though charming in its brokenness since, it looks the same as when it was filled with immigrants straight from Ellis Island.

I ask 4 men where Rivington Street is.

No one knows.

I ask one guy, “Don’t you live around here?” “Yeah,” he says, smoking a smashed cigar, “my whole life.”

This never fails to mystify me since, I could be a tour guide in my neighborhood…

but I’m digressing.

A woman is hurrying towards me in very high heels. She’s blonde, from what I can see, wearing a trench coat that doesn’t quite fit.

I wave her down.

“Do you know where Rivington Street is?” She whips off her Ray-Bans and coming closer, I see, she’s a he with really bad teeth.

I now feel bad asking since, I’m going to the dentist, but she helps me, sort of, since her directions are a bit theatrical. I was actually waiting for her to break into song...gotta dance…needing to ask her to repeat everything, which she does as if it’s an encore.

My well heeled heart opens thinking, is there anything in my closet that would fit her? I knew not since, she looked like a halfback, and I’m built more like the water boy.

But I wanted to do something for her, so as she turned to leave I call out, “Excuse me, but do you mind telling me what mascara you use? Your lashes are so long. Or is that natural?”

She perks up like a hothouse plant and answers, “Maybelline, still the best…my mother and grandmother both swore by it.”

She grins like a chainsaw, her teeth, the ones she still has, chipped and ragged, while I said, “Thank you so much for the tip.”

“Oh you’re welcome,” she said with a wink. “Us girls, we need to stick together.”

Yes we do.  🙂    

SB

Posted in Beauty, creative writing, Culture, Fashion, grace, History, humanity, humor, New York City, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 70 Comments

When Manhattan Stopped for Me

I was barreling down the subway steps towards the express train downtown, late for an appointment, when the doors began to close.

A young girl brazenly stuck her leg in the door so it would stay open, but like a giant blade speeding across, it looked as if it would claim her Doc Marten and the foot it held.

“It’s okay,” I mouthed, waving her to stop, “you’re gonna get hurt.”

Unbeknownst to me, the conductor hanging out of the window in the next car had his door wide open, waiting patiently for me to notice.

When I finally saw this, our eyes met, a big smile on my face, a tolerant expression on his.

You could almost read his thoughts.

WOMEN!!!

And as I rushed settling into a seat, in a typical New York minute, instead of being late…

now, was early. 🙂

  SB       

Posted in Culture, Fashion, grace, Gratitude, humanity, humor, New York City, travel, Women and men | Tagged , , , , | 80 Comments

Did You Know…Hollywood Edition Part 2

 In 1977, Carrie Fisher was only 19 years-old when she played Princess Leia in the legendary film, Star Wars.

Sophia Loren turned down the amour of Cary Grant for director Carlo Ponti’s, instead.  

Was she dropped on her head?

A young Robert Redford and his then wife, Lola, were heartbroken when they lost their first child, Scott Anthony at two and a half months-old, to what’s called, crib death in 1959. They lost their last child, James, at 58 in 2020 to liver cancer. All I know is, you’re not supposed to outlive your children.

After making his directorial debut with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in 1966, Mike Nichols fought with Warner Brothers who wanted it whitewashed of all its suggestive profanity he was reluctant to do.

Instead, he asked his good pal, Jackie Kennedy, to join the eighty judges at The National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures at their special screening, sitting directly behind the primary decision makers so when the lights came up, she’d say, “What a beautiful movie. Jack would have loved it,” which she did.

Hence…it passed, without censor.       

It always come down to, who you know.

In 1973, actress Jane Fonda was married to French writer/director Roger Vadim when she realized she was pregnant for the second time. But what she had to tell Roger was, it was Chicago 7’s Tom Hayden’s child, not his.

Monsieur Vadim graciously granted her an amicable divorce so she and Tom could tie the knot on that umbilical cord staying married for 17 years, divorcing in 1990.

Ah, the magnanimity of the French.

Actor Warren Beatty dated, Isabelle Adjani, Leslie Caron, Cher, Julie Christie, Joan Collins, Jane Fonda, Vivien Leigh, Madonna, Michelle Phillips, Mamie Van Doren and Natalie Wood, to just name a few before marrying Annette Benning in 1990, so when he told the magazine, AARP, he’s slept with 12, 775 women, it does make you wonder.

He certainly smiles a lot. 

Going back to the late, great Carrie Fisher. Along with being a celebrated memoirist (Wishful Drinking, Shockoholic), she was an in-demand, script doctor, Steven Spielberg’s Hook about the adventures of James Barrie’s Peter Pan one of her credits.

Tinkerbell says…

‘You know that place between sleep and awake? The place that you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting, Peter Pan.’

Sounds a lot like her, doesn’t it?

We miss you Carrie.  sigh

SB

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Best Story of the Week…March 11th

There’s a runner I see every morning who, at 6 a.m. is already leaving the Park when I get there.

He’s an African man, sturdy and strong, fast like a bullet I’ve always admired. Our relationship consists of a nod, a smile, a…you’re done already Henry? I’m so jealous, like ships passing in the night.

But this morning, I was surprised to find him almost in tears.

Apparently a woman became frightened when she saw him stretching beneath a street lamp, proceeding to scream. She then took photos of him with her phone as though he had attacked her.

The gentle soul that he is, attempted to reason with her, only making her more hysterical before running out of the Park.

He was so shook up, and who can blame him.

This same scenario happened a few months ago, but the man accused didn’t stand for it, reporting the person who was making a racial accusation without cause. It made all the papers, and the woman was taken to task.

I reassured Henry, that if need be, I’d stand up for him, but he still couldn’t be comforted by anything I could say.

He was hurt, plain and simple, to be unjustly perceived as a threat just because he’s a man of color.

I watched him leave, his head hanging low, like an eagle with clipped wings. 

I ask you…

 

what is wrong with us?    

SB

 

Posted in Culture, humanity, inspiration, men, nature, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments

The Person I Want To Come Home To

I want to be the person I want to come home to.

It says it all for me, the kind of girl I long to be: happy, sane, loyal and true.

One who greets with a smile.

I long to be rational, understanding, loving, instead of the resentful caretaker, excuse-maker, people-pleaser and above all, martyr, victim of her own circumstances.

Harsh did you say? Maybe a little, but the truth does tend to first kick your butt, then set you free.

I want whomever it is, bursting through the door so happy to be coming home to me, in all my truth and peaceful dignity.

Too much to hope for?

Nah!

To Thine Own Self Be True, said Shakespeare.

Maybe one day.  Ya just never know.

They don’t call it Will Power for nothing.     

SB

Posted in Culture, Family, grace, Gratitude, humanity, inspiration, Love, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 50 Comments

Lights Still Shining

There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.

Hannah Senesh, poet, playwright, and paratrooper  1921-1944

Maya Angelou  1928-2014 

Winston Churchill  1874-1965

Roberto Clemente  1934-1972 

Anne Frank  1929-1945

Mahatma Gandhi  1869-1948

Ruth Bader Ginsburg  1933-2020

Audrey Hepburn  1929-1993

William Melvin Hicks  1961-1994

Robert Francis Kennedy  1925-1968

Martin Luther King Jr.  1929-1968

Lassie (aka Pal) 1940-1958 

John Robert Lewis  1940-2020

Abraham Lincoln  1809-1865 

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela  1918-2013

Paul Leonard Newman  1925-2008

Jack Roosevelt Robinson  1919-1972

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt  1884-1962 

Oskar Schindler  1908-1974

The Unknown Soldier 

Diana Francis Spencer, Princess of Wales  1961-1997

Walter Whitman  1819-1892

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.  1922-2007

Robin McLaurin Williams 1951-2014   

to name a few.

Who might you add?

SB

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Best Stories Of The Week, So Far…March 4th

Monday:  I’m in the Park crossing the Great Lawn walking gingerly over ice, when I see a young man charging towards me, in shorts no less. I say, hey, be careful, it’s very icy.

If looks could kill, I’d be in Jersey.

Well guess who slid at top speed as if he were stealing Third?

Tuesday:  I’m having a bad day. My favorite gold necklace, among other things, is tangled up in blue, to quote Dylan, so I go to the chain smoking, grumpy jeweler down the block to see if he’ll free it from bondage.

He does, with a grunt and a sneer, as tears slide down my face since, it’s the nicest thing that’s happened all day. After asking if I owe him anything, he waves me away. As I leave he asks, framed in smoke, in his thick Israeli accent, “Why do you cry?”

“Cause I’m having a bad day.”

“It will be alright, ” he says, with a grunt and a sneer, a cigarette ash about to fall onto the clock he’s fixing.

That’s all anyone ever wants to hear, even while coughing trapped in a cloud of Camel Non-Filters.

Wednesday:  I get a note from Patrick the Cat’s father saying, after his yearly trip to the vet, Patty won’t eat.

Hes very worried. Was wondering if maybe I could invite him over, entice him with a snack.

Only in New York.

So, I of course say yes, even though all I have is a very expensive jar of caviar leftover from this over-the-top Xmas basket (that could have paid my rent) I’ve been saving.

It was 8 a.m. so the thought of fish eggs didn’t quite go with my oatmeal and if Patrick wasn’t in the mood either, then what, I’d waste it.

See, once caviar is opened, like champagne, it goes flat.

Be that as it may, life’s short, and what are pals for anyway.

“Patrick, how bout a little fish to start off the day?” He doesn’t answer. He sits and stares making me wish I had put a little make-up on.

I then open it, placing it on the floor. He walks away.

Shit, I think, disappearing into the kitchen.

When I come back he’s eating like Orson Welles.

“A little milk to wash it down perhaps?” I ask, smiling.

He grunts and sneers.

“I know Patrick, but I’m all outta vodka.  🙂   

SB

 

Posted in animals, Culture, friendship, grace, Health, humanity, humor, Love, New York City, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 38 Comments