Notes From The Carlyle – November 2017

 Only at Bemelmans would a man shimmy up to the bar where your demurely seated and say, “Have we met?”

It seemed to go with the rest of my disturbing day that pushed me right off the wagon.

I haven’t been drinking, and haven’t really fallen off…it was more like dangling my feet off the side, while it took a sharp corner.

It started at my trusty hairdresser’s when I went to get my color done and said, “Not too dark, okay?” Then came out like Pocahontas.  

From there, since yes, it was beauty day, I had my nails done, and said to the little girl, please don’t cut my cuticles…just trim, and now they’re biblically bleeding.

TAXI…76th and Madison…and HURRY.

So I’m at the bar, me and my black hair, my nails wrapped in cocktail napkins, when this man in a tweedy suit sashays over like Douglas Fairbanks fresh from the grave.   80ish, but well-preserved like Tut did the embalming…hair slicked with so much pomade moths could ski down his forehead.  I’m not kidding, he was a dead ringer, for dead Dougie.

He even had one of those pencil thin mustaches, like John Waters, and oh, why couldn’t he be John Waters because, boy did I need a laugh.  So as he arranges his crotch like a catcher for the Mets, before sitting on the stool next to me, without asking…not that I had any claims on that stool, but between his cologne and Rolex the size of my head, a booth was looking real good.

The barmaid said after I ordered my 24 dollar glass of wine that should have come wrapped in mink, “Are you celebrating?”

“Yes Laurie, I kinda am.  It’s the first drink I’ve had in quite a while and boy, do I deserve it.”

Before you judge me as one grand spendthrift, there’s a method to my vino madness. By ordering one glass that expensive, I know I’ll only have one glass.

But back to,”Have we met?”

“NO, we haven’t.” (he clearly hadn’t heard about Matt Lauer)

“Well why not?”


No of course I didn’t say that.  But he did look like an apparition from another time. Even his nails were buffed like hubcaps picking up the light, and Ling Ling didn’t machete his cuticles, I can tell you that.

“Potato chips?” asked Laurie with a wink, knowing I’d crawl for Lays, as long as they came in a bowl and not a bedroom.

But before I could claim them for my own, whose manicured mitt do you think shoveled in first?

My fuse was now lit.

“You know chips put weight on a girl,” said dead Dougie, munching away, little scraps of fried potato clinging to his furry lip.

I decided I’d just ignore him hoping he’d fade away, but no…he persisted.

“Hey doll, how bout a refill.” He was drinking straight scotch like it was water, and calling Laurie doll made me think, he thought, he was at the Copa.

“I like aloof women, they really turn me on.”  Did his brows just do a little tango, or was it the price of the wine?


“I just want to sit and sip my drink…okay? Don’t want to be rude, but my store’s closed.”

“Well, let’s open it?”

“Let’s not.”

Then Laurie comes back with more chips, places them on my other side and says,

“Did you dye your hair?”   



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Take Care of Those You Love

Erica, I’ll call her, came to me in tears, because Allen, I’ll call him, left her.

Should have known something was up when she asked if I had any scotch to put in her coffee.

It was 8 a.m.

Can’t say I was surprised at the news, since it’s been like a slow train coming.

I said nothing as she wept, zipping the lip, 12 Step slogan number 99, even though I so wanted to say, I told you so.

Longterm relationships need care, but quite often than not, are assumed to be so solid, they’ll just chug along at their own steam.


You need to look after one another, plain and simple.  Allen, an investment banker, works hard, a 12 hour-a-day man, that, when he comes homes, needs attention…a meal, a smile…and not from Inez, the housekeeper either, but from his missus who’s rarely there to greet him.

Where is she?  Oh, at another sample sale, taking one more college course…on a little holiday with her girlfriends.

He’s lonely.  He needs to talk, and though he likes Inez, he wants his wife to hear about his day, not the woman who does the cleaning.

In all fairness, Allen was a real trooper, never strayed, always coming home stoic and silent, the contents of his briefcase keeping him company.  I’d say, you know Erica, you just might be pushing the envelope by never being there when he gets home.

“Oh don’t be silly,” she’d say, “he’s fine, and would never think of fooling around.  Allen? that’s pretty funny.”

Yeah well, who’s laughing now that he’s asked for a divorce so he can marry Frita, a girl he met at O’Hare, when his flight from Chicago got delayed.  She’s 40, never married. and loves to cook, unlike Erica who’d freeze a few things Inez would then defrost.  Apparently Frita bakes from scratch, and even makes her own bread, something Allen just can’t get over.

“I need to talk some sense into him,” she told me.  “I mean wait till the kids hear.  I’ll just die without my Allen.”

Again, I said nothing but knew, Erica from now on, might be freezing alone. 


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Sergeant Yorkie

I’m coming out of Whole Foods a little after 7 a.m. to find a miniature Yorkie in an army fatigue hoodie (only on the upper east side), tied up at the curb.

This dog is so small, he’d fit in your wallet.

I’ve written more than once how dogs, especially little ones, are randomly stolen in my neighborhood, never to be seen again.

It mind-goggles me when they’re left to have no say of what may happen to them.

It’s cold, me and the dog are both shivering, and I have an early appointment besides.  Yet, Joan of Bark still reports for duty.

I stand there and wait, figuring, his owner has to be en route, but after 5 long, freezing minutes, doesn’t appear.

I go in where the coffee line ends and ask, “Does someone own the Yorkie outside?”

No takers.

I then, keeping an eye on the dog, make my way around the first floor, no one having any idea who he belongs to.

Now I’m getting mad, thinking, what idiot leaves an animal out there that long in the cold, when anyone, including me, could easily steal him.

Did I mention on top of being cold, I’m extremely tired after working a very long day prior to this?  In other words, my fuse is short.

I go back outside.

The animal is now shaking like he’s doing the hula.

I take him and put him in my jacket.

Don’t you know at that moment a guy, the size of Gulliver, comes out and accuses me of stealing his dog,


We go at it.

I tell him with as much self-control as I have, which isn’t much, that it’s irresponsible to leave him out in the cold, and so vulnerable to boot.

He’s screaming at me..”Fuck you lady, I’m callin the cops, you were stealin my dog,” who if could only talk, would happily explain everything.

Here’s where karma makes an appearance.

A policeman, unnoticed till now, gets out of his car across the street.

I’m thinking, oh man, am I gonna get arrested?

Well, Officer Will who, apparently saw the whole thing from beginning to end, tears Gulliver a new one, telling him…

“If you ever leave that little dog alone again, you’ll have to answer to me.”

Gulliver, who starts to argue, is silenced and told to go on his way.

As for me, about to break into song, go back to that coffee line and get a’coupla light and sweets for me, and good old Officer Will, one of New York’s finest.




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My Pal Al Franken

Years ago, when Al Franken was a writer on Saturday Night Live, I played a Robert Palmer Girl with actress Geena Davis, who hosted. Palmer was an urbane, 80s, English singer with a backup band of tall, short-haired brunettes braying and bopping behind him.

Al and his writing partner, the late Tom Davis, wrote the skit, the late Phil Hartman playing Palmer, Geena being the head Palmerette, while Al wrote a line, just for me.

How excited was I, being so young back then, still hoping to be a star…sigh.

I remember him well…quiet, polite, smart, self-effacing…and just a little chubby.

It looks as if Al, now a junior United States Senator, from Minnesota, will more than likely have to step down due to the inappropriate sexual behavior he’s been accused of.


Is this the same fella who I looked up to in my youth?  What happened?

Last I knew, Al was happily married with kids, a booming career, and a dog.

I do know, that before one should do anything, it’s best to run the tape straight through, just in case.  In other words, truth, that little prankster, always finds a way to come out, even if it takes 20 years. But I’ve always known that, coming from a crazy, alcoholic, dysfunctional home with heads buried in the backyard.

I feel sad about all this.

Charlie Rose, one of my favorite interviewers, also, busted.


As for Harvey Weinstein, whose psychotic behavior started this avenging avalanche, I do recall watching in action, on a film set, as he lusted after a young stand-in like a little lamb chop.

But Al?

He was a gentleman, always, so go figure.   



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Let’s Talk Turkey

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was a favorite holiday of mine, despite the fact the entire family got drunk and disorderly.

I remember when my mother stabbed my father with her super-duper carving knife, delaying dinner till he returned from the emergency room.

Then there was the time my father slugged my Uncle Danny for sitting in his chair.

On more than one occasion the cops were called, my mother wooing them with drumsticks and enough cleavage to raise the Titanic.

Ah, memories.

The last formal Thanksgiving I attended was with my ex, at a friend of his in the Hamptons, a famous artist who, due to my exquisite manners, shall remain nameless.  She too is a raving drunk, so after catering the whole thing from a high end gourmet store called Loaves and Fishes, I know…catchy isn’t it…she passed out on her bed and we all had to clean up.

That was it for me.

Now I spend the day with someone I can count on to be present, polite and just plain nice…me.

I’ll go to Whole Foods and buy three dozen cleaned shrimp, a lemon the size of Kansas, and cocktail sauce that will reduce my eyes to pinheads from all the salt.  Hey, but it’s a holiday…a girl’s gotta live a little after all.

Then my books and I, will sit around the table giving thanks for all our blessings, like Tums and cold compresses to keep the swelling down.

But the star of the show?

Peace, cause you know what?  That’s what Thanksgiving should be all about.

A heart at rest, grace in play…our heads bowed in gratitude.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone.



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Diehard Beauty

It’s 35 degrees with a windchill factor of about 10, as I walk to La La Nails to get my toes done, wearing tights and thongs.

I may get pneumonia, but boy, will my feet look great.

I’ll be on my deathbed having my nails done, some little woman named Ming asking ,

“What cula?”

Susannah’s last words?

Pennsylvania Pink.

At my worst moment, I’m coiffing, tears streaming down my face, getting a bikini wax.  I mean, what a better time then when you’re about to stick your head in the oven.

Like my pal Camille says, “If I’m going to commit suicide, I need to lose 5 pounds first.”

Reminds me of that Lucy episode when, she and Ethel might get arrested for stealing John Wayne’s footprints from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, remembering she has a hair appointment.

Ricky says, “How can you think about your hair at a time like this? Mira que tiene cosa. Lucy, you got some splainin to do.”

Lucy says, “If I’m going to jail, I’m not going as a frowsy redhead.”

See, I really get that.

It doesn’t much matter what’s going on in my life, I’m always going to be cleaned, pressed and polished, because like my mother, that great Italian sage with excess cleavage, taught me, ya just never know what’s around the corner.

Could be big…:)



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Friendship a Bloomin’

The Latino woman preceding me most days in the Starbuck’s line, along with the African American cook who works for a rich family on Fifth, have become fast friends.

I’ve been watching it unfold, this funny friendship you’d never expect to see.


Well, the cook is well over 6 feet, her legs the length of Long Island, and the little Latino Lady, and I mean little, is barely an inch taller than a dwarf.

They treat one another to coffee and the newspaper, while the cook, an amazing baker, brings her pal treats, like freshly made scones and apple fritters, producing a smile that could easily melt ice.

One morning, I even got a fritter, the size of my sneaker.

Kindness, alas, is very rare these days.  No one even notices the person seated next to them, so watching these women who met drinking coffee, honor one another in small, nurturing ways, moves me more than I can say.

To look at them you’d think, what could they possibly have in common?  Well, besides being women, they’re both hard working and happy, just to be part of the world.  Toss in their goodwill and innate generosity, and they could easily, be sisters.

So what if one’s a little short…:)    



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A Not Nice New York

I live on the Upper East Side in the middle of a pretty block.

If you go west, all is clean and peaceful, doormen sweeping, hosing down the pavement.  Seasonal flowers planted on each esplanade.

However, if you go east, it’s a whole other story.

Between jackhammers digging up the street, breaking pipes like it’s a way of life.  Swarms of commuters, faces buried in their phones, pushing their way, without pause nor apology.  The professional panhandlers, every few feet, begging and perfecting their wanton wails, even though we see them later, jumping into taxis.

A new guy has joined the team who, when you say no, screams…you hunky bitch…you white, rich bitch…you can’t give me nothin?

Me, with my Starbucks card still filled with birthday presents, I’m betting Don Rickles has more cash than I do.

How can you live there?  I’m often asked.  Aren’t you afraid?

Actually no.  Do I need to be careful and watch my back, like in any jungle?  Absolutely.  Is it pleasant to be accosted that way, whether it’s about money or noise, rudeness or crowding, just trying to get down the street?

I hate it, grateful I can meander the other way where civility is not yet a thing of the past.

What can I say?

I love New York.  It’s my home, even when she belongs in rehab.


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A Word That Doesn’t Matter

 I read a lot, and occasionally a word will jump off the page, smacking me good across my cheek.

Bagatelle, is the latest.

A noun that means, a thing of little importance.  A throwaway occurrence or set of circumstances…in other words, something not to lose sleep over.

It also describes, an easy task, a light piece of music, and a small game you play on a sloping board.

But we’re interested in the first meaning…an event of insignificance.

I’ve never heard bagatelle used in conversation, though it keeps coming up in prose and will admit, looks pretty awesome on the printed page.

It’s nice looking, the way it’s spelled using three, plain, ordinary words.  Bag-a-tell/e, one could say, describes itself, to a T.

Shelia said to Amy, as they walked down Fifth, “You get so upset over nothing.  It’s a mere bagatelle to cast off, like lint, on your cashmere.  She means nothing…a blowjob in back of a limo en route to the airport.”

Yes, I too occasionally need a little fluff to divert and distract.  Like Bono says, whatever gets you through the night.

But back to the English language that rarely bores nor disappoints.

I made a list of my own bagatelles.  All the irks and miffs that rile and rankle, and just plain drive me crazy.

They didn’t call, she’s late, he didn’t say hello.

What’s that? How rude. Don’t expect to see me again.

Minutia, ephemera, those Micky Mouse, minor details weighing us down, wasting our time.

Nonessentials…trifles…the inconsequential trivialities that spring up like a sudden rash.

Hogwash, hokum, hooey and phooey.  Twaddle, tommyrot, picayune, penny-ante poop…the small potatoes of life having no meaning nor staying power.

I’m thinking after my morning shower, before leaving the house, to make sure all bagatelles, as pretty as they may preen, are all placed in the shredder where they belong.

We’ll call it, traveling emotionally light.

Language, a force unto itself.



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See Ya Later Allegator

I’m afraid to turn on the news.

Who will be the next, alleged, sexual predator to be outed.

Yes, that wasn’t a typo…alleged….innocent till proven guilty.  It’s still America after all.  At least it was, last time I looked.

I have visions of every male celebrity pacing like pumas trying to recap their past conduct.

Well there was that fat girl’s ass I grabbed in preschool.

Yes, I’m making light of it.  But you have to understand I make fun of everything.  It’s how I’ve survived all these years.

I have great empathy for the victims courageously coming out of their cocoons of shame, another thing I know all about.  But I also have empathy for their abusers.

Kevin Spacey for example, someone I’ve idolized, has fallen so far, his life, never mind his career, will never be the same.

I remember writing to him, years ago, when he appeared on Broadway, writing back, graciously thanking me.  I still have the note somewhere.

As individuals, our appetites run deep, and most of us, thankfully, have learned to control them.  Sadly, that hasn’t been the case here.

But, I want to remind the world, we’re all flawed.  Some of us more than others, including our heroes.  That’s certainly not an excuse, but a reasonable explanation.



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