Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Passage of Watergate Time

 
Fans of this page (both of you!) will recall how this reporter’s view of recent history is colored, overall, by a disbelief that He ( if I were President, here I would just write my name as if I were some 6 o’clock local anchor in the up and coming St. George, Utah TV market) could have actually been present at events of the last half century, especially the earliest ones.  They all seem like just a few months, maybe a year ago.  Life does have a nasty habit of starting out when you’re in your teens and twenties at a rate you can absorb, then, like a really bad ride at a travelling carnival, it begins to speed up just when you thought you were attuned to the velocity of life in front of you.  Thus, if you are someone who actually remembers the first year you had a television, and your parents watched Adlai Stevenson give his first acceptance speech live to the nation,  those numbers, the ones you can’t believe are YOUR life, just thrash you around like a protective terrier would a small rodent, illicitly caught in the grain elevator. (Yes, that is what terriers were apparently originally bred for.)  

And so it was, that cleaning out a large scale IKEA bookshelf over the weekend produced a number of surprises.  Not shocking, really, just little measures of a life which had mostly been dedicated to capturing what was happening in our world.  For years, with my aspiration to be a Time-Life photographer filled at a relatively early age (I was 20 when I got my first internship at Time … too young at the time to even have a couple of martinis at Duke Zieberts with the D.C. crowd after an LBJ welcoming ceremony)  I spent the better part of five decades chasing events in many parts of the world (not all: never made it to Antarctica, and there are huge gaps in my Asia and Africa coverage…) and for the most part, following the ritual of finding a plane headed to New York or Paris, with my film on it.  We have become so spoiled in the last 15 years, with instant everything, that the toxic nature of this short-term, instant gratification (how gratified, really?) is not going to be truly understood by the citizenry for years to come.  Shooting film meant your job never ended until, to quote my long time buddy Jean-Pierre Laffont, “I see the plane with my film flying over head …” to whichever editorial stop it might be, usually NYC or Paris, the two main axes of photojournalism for the last fifty years.   In those days, if you were on a political campaign, you’d packet up your film in a heavy envelope and leave it at the front desk for a messenger to fetch, and head directly to the bar, where you might actually run into someone working for the campaign who could give you a heads up about tomorrow’s work schedule.  With today’s obligation to edit and process on the fly, it’s rare after a long day shooting that  you aren’t cooped up in your hotel room, trying to edit and tone pictures which will fly out on the wifi system that night.  It’s certainly quicker than film, but it’s a helluva lot less fun.  And all the obligations which accompany those deadlines mean you never really have time to just ponder.  

Pondering was one of my favorite elements of photojournalism.  Essentially, we are always trying to understand the logistics battle of how  we get our camera in the exact spot necessary, and at the right moment, that all we have to do is compose, and shoot.   But those answers never come easy, and you have to really think about what your options are, and what you have to do to make that magic moment happen. Much of it, true, is something you see on the fly, but so many times, thinking ahead about what is happening, or going to happen, makes a huge difference in your work.  Anticipation is a gift.  You just need that time to ponder.  It pays off in the end. 

The accompanying picture (Washington DC, summer 1973)  is by that same French friend, Jean-Pierre Laffont.  JP has been living in New York since the late 1960s.  We met at the first Nixon Inauguration.  I forget the exact moment, but I was a young freelancer, having just been out of college, and in DC a couple of months, and JP was the GAMMA photographer in New York, covering the USA for that then new, and ground-breaking agency.  GAMMA was really the first news agency to operate on the theory that there are enough places to sell and license the work, if only we have the confidence in our photographers, and let them operate “on spec” following their own judgement.  It really solidified the idea that photojournalists were journalists as much as photographers, relying on their inate skills as artists, con men, bullshitters, and business mavens, to get to where the pictures were happening, and send film of said events back to the base, in this case, Paris.  After a nasty split amongst the partners, a number of the GAMMA staff left to form a new agency, SYGMA, and it was with SYGMA that JP spent the next forty something years based in New York, covering the world. (He has published two wonderful books of photographs:  Photographer’s Paradise: Turbulent America 1960-1990 and New York City Up  and Down (https://preview.tinyurl.com/y742hxw5)  I more or less took up the GAMMA slot for the next couple of years, before leaving to start Contact Press Images (www.contactpressimages.com) in New York.  One of the first big stories I covered for GAMMA in 1973 was the Watergate Hearings and the beginning of the unravelling of the Nixon administration.  Every day had a wild new twist as witnesses came to the hill, sitting in front of folksy old Senator Sam Ervin (ever the ‘country lawyer’), the country, and the world.  One of the most explosive days of testimony came when John Dean, who had been the one to tell  Nixon there was “ a cancer growing on the Presidency…”   came with wife Maureeen (soon to be known by all as “Mo’ Dean.”)   I was one of the photographers trying to make some kind of picture of Dean that day, and I was surrounded by some of the best.  Looking back now, I see so many of the Washington world who have since died, but whose presence made me, a young guy fairly new at this game, try and do better than just merely showing up.  When you look a t the talent in that room, and realize how widely viewed their pictures would be over that year, it gives you pause.  There are a few I don’t recognize, but many I do: Daryl Heikes (UPI), Tim Murphy, Joe Silverman (Wash Star)  (standing behind me), ME (GAMMA), Committee Counsel Sam Dash in the dark suit in the distance, Gjon Mili (LIFE - tall in the grey suit, the man who did things with early strobes we all marvelled at, even years later), Stanley Tretick (confidante to Presidents from Kennedy to Carter), Harvey Georges (amazing that we can identify someone by their hair - AP), and Wally McNamee (lower right, Newsweek.)  I think WashPost photographer Jim Atherton, (the guy who could, and often did,  walk into a hearing room where you’d been sitting on your knees for two hours, look around for about a minute, make a half dozen snaps, and walk out of the room, having handed you your very own lunch, an hour before the lunch break) might even be in this picture. I know he was in the room. In my dreary picture of Dean with hand raised for swearing in, Atherton had, alone, snuck behind him and popped up for just long enough to get the anxiious faces of the Senators. Such was the talent in that room, in this picture from 45 years ago.  Forty five years, and none of us alive today can imagine it was really that long ago. Like so many things it feels so fresh, so recent, so real.  We have our pictures to remember our lives, and photography, above all, is about memory.   Thanks, JP. And yes, I’ll get a haircut.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

R.I.P. Our Pal Anne....

When Jordan was in high school, she had the most wonderful boyfriend who was as zany as she was.  The  romance lasted throughout high school and they were a perfect pair.  Just to give you an idea, they went to Tony’s prom in prom attire,  but underneath the appropriate prom-wear they had adam and eve costumes, which they revealed sometime during the evening. It was s fun to be with them or just watch them be hilarious, and they were.  We thought it would be fun to go out to dinner with Tony’s parents. Unlike most other kids who would never want their parents to meet, Jordan and Tony thought it was a terrific idea.  And so we went to the local and only OK Indian restaurant. Fun was had by all but the whip cream on the evening was that Donn, Tony’s dad, mooned us on the way home.  We vowed never to give them up, no matter what happened with the kids.  Far as I can remember, the kids never broke up. Tony went away to school, as did  Jordan the following year.  There was no ugly name calling or regrets. They just carried on with their lives. Tony got the award for Best Boyfriend Ever.


 Jordan, Tony and their parents (complete with spoons) at dinner

The parents, (us and Tony’s folks)  vowed not to lose touch.  Although our times together were sporadic, we still had them.  Two weeks ago we discovered that we were all in South Florida, and actually geographically close. We made arrangements to have dinner, but instead of going out we stayed at our apartment and had an almost dinner, but accompanied by lots of laughs and some of Donn’s homemade Lemoncello.  Anne and I remembered when we first met, and I told her that we had lots in common. She was an incredible award winning athlete — biking, swimming, running, and whatever else you do in triathlons. She always won, Donn, the soulmate sometimes placed.  Needless to say, I was stretching the truth.  Run, jump, bike, swim, in a contest —  me?  I think not. Riding my adult tricycle and a workout on the elliptical or treadmill is the extent of my athletic ability. We had a good laugh. And of course, we had the conversation about how we wished Tony and Jordan would get married. Well, I had the conversation. Anne said that she liked Tony’s girlfriend.  “OK, OK,” I said, but I  can dream. We said our goodnights with promises to get together soon.

Anne died in a freak accident yesterday.  She and Donn were driving back from Florida and in Greenville, South Carolina a deer crashed into their car.  It somehow landed on Anne. She died instantly.  This was the report in the paper:

“A 68-year-old woman from Arlington, Virginia woman died after the car she was riding in was struck by a deer on Interstate 85.
The woman, Anne Viviani, was the passenger of a car that was struck by a deer Monday morning. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Greenville County Coroner's Office.”

And just like that, this incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend, athlete, educator, public servant, joyous human being,  loving life and her incredible lifelong partnership with her husband, was gone.  Two paragraphs in a local paper described the end.  Needless to say, for her family and friends the description of who the was and what her life meant to hundreds of people was more than two paragraphs. A novel perhaps, with many colorful chapters about all the laughs, love and tears she provided for those hundreds of people whose lives she touched.

Now we are left without her, and there is nothing to do but be grateful for having her in our lives. We have our memories of course, but they seem not enough when there should have been so many more.  We are angry and sad beyond words. There are just no words. There are just prayers and tears.  Rest in peace my pal, I for one, among hundreds, will miss you always.   We’re just sayin’… Iris

Sunday, March 25, 2018

the Kids from MSD High School...


Finally, the children had the courage to speak up against gun violence. It was an answer to the politicians who said, “Guns don’t kill people, people do”,  and they have responded with, “Bullshit!”  
Just listen to the repeated messages in their chanting,  “We are done!”  - “This why we march,” -  “No more”  - “Never again”  - “Vote them out” - “Enough is enough!” and “We want change.”

And some of the stories:
“I learned to duck the bullets before I learned to read.” 
“Bullets do not discriminate, so why should we.” 
“Politicians who support the NRA choose death, People who march today choose life.”  
“We are the voices of change”  

Christopher Underwood, is 11 years old and lost his brother to gun violence.  He has been working for years to combat violence. 
He understands:  “They (the politicians) will be home for the next two weeks, so go get them. “ 
“ In the end we are all fighting for  lives.” 
Martin Luther King’s granddaughter has her grandfather’s talent for speaking.  And she had the crowd repeat this three times; “Have you heard all across the nation, we are going to be a great generation.” 
“This is real life, this is what’s happening around the world.”

One of the most moving videos was from former military man who said that he believes in the second amendment, but also agreed  that military type assault weapons should be banned for everyone but military and law enforcement.  

The now Juniors from Newtown Elementary  School, (they were in second grade) sent a message, “We have had enough of an NRA agenda.” 

Emma Gonzalez read the names of the seventeen students who died, and spoke about what they would never do again. She ended on “would never again ….”  She then stood 6 minutes and 20 seconds The time it took for the shooter to kill seventeen people. 
Followed by Jennifer Hudson singing  “The times they are a changing.”  
Best signs:
 “Guns have more rights than my vaginia.” 
“Love over Lead” 
“Kids over campaign contributions.” 

Among my favorites, because it showed the sensitivities of a child, was the young man who, at the end of his powerful speech, added “hello” to his Uncle Myron.

Whoever was responsible for the program and podium did a remarkable job.  At so many specific issue rallies the message is diluted by other issues, and people with their own agendas.  Not so today.  They all addressed the same issue.

It reminded me of the ’60's protests. the war, civil rights, women’s rights and human rights.  And the music today was so powerful.  Much like the protest songs of Joan Baez, Phil Ochs,  Arlo Guthrie, Crosby Stills and Nash who wrote “Ohio” after the National Guard murdered four students during a protest at Kent State in Ohio. One dead student,  Allison Krause was simply walking across the campus.  So many of us thought, there but for God go I.  It was a call for us to unite.
    “Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming…
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio….”

Today the powerful music came from Ben Platt, Lin-Manuel, Jennifer Hudson and the Drama Club and Choir who came from Parkland. But here’s the most important line from Lin Manuel’s “Hamilton” —           “Tomorrow there will be more of us” 
Hooray for Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and all those remarkable passionate and articulate students who spoke.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Friday, March 16, 2018

Protest? Why Yes....Here's How

There is nothing more powerful than an articulate child or young person who wants to make change — who advocates against some injustice. Look (if you can bear it) at all those white male Republican elected officials, who do not want to eliminate assault weapons, who are still defending Trump, and who are totally out of place.  They are unconnected to what is actually going on in this country.  You can feel their discomfort, and you just know they are paralyzed by the last two Special Congressional elections. When the protestors confronted Rubio, it was not his best moment.  In fact, the only thing Trump has ever said that we all agree on was his description of Rubio as “Little Marco.”

Back to the important stuff. Last night we were having dinner with our dear friends Jan and Jeff.  Being Communication people we started to discuss the protests against owning guns, especially assault weapons.  You may recall from the first paragraph that I mentioned the voices of children and young people.  We all agreed that those voices were a powerful tool.  People all over the country either walked out of schools or spent 17 minutes in silence.  One minute for each teacher and child who were murdered in Parkland.  The movement has started and the NRA must be at least a little nervous.

Wouldn’t it be valuable to have a course at some high school or college called Protesting 101.  And wherever that is taught, I want to teach it.  It would begin with the history of civil disobedience, probably beginning with the anti-war movement during the Vietnam war.  There were protests before that — like during the civil rights movement.  But those protests were also peopled with young people who had passion and loud voices.  The heat of the Civil Rights, Human Rights and Womens Rights, and anti-war protests had their greatest impact during the 60’s.  The people who participated were mostly young with a vision of what this country should look like in the future. Then those protesters grew up, most lost interest in changing the world, and raised entitled children — who had no idea what it was like to “go out on the streets” and have a voice about injustice.  The 60’s activists were now interested in success, and money — so they could support the entitled children.  But now the children of the entitled (as opposed to the children of the corn —who were bone and blue eyed evil doers) saw 9/11 and the mass murders of other young people in schools all over, and they wanted the violence to stop. (OK I did short cut much of the history and reasons for what happened.  But my blobs get too long). So what do we have now? Voices raised in protest about assault weapons.

If I were teaching protest 101, the course would include the following:

-   Developing the message and not allowing the message to get convoluted or watered down.
-   How to organize  communication tools to rally support and spread the word. 
-   The importance of social media.
Decisions about who speaks for the group
Decisions about what they say

And the next steps, like getting all the protesters to register to vote,
identifying the enemy, like the NRA and elected officials and creating targeted campaigns against them.

Yes, there is more but this is a good start unless there is money passed directly into my hands — me being a 60’s protester who raised entitled children.  You can figure out if you are one of those if you have ever given your child a credit card or a phone before they could pay for it themselves. Anyway, nothing makes me happier than to know there are people who care about injustice and have good common sense.

We're just sayin'... Iris

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Best Date Ever

What’s the difference between a white lie and a lie?  It seems to me that a white lie is like alternative facts.  Can people be so stupid that they believe that facts and alternative facts, or a lie and a white lie are actually the same?  Maybe so. Maybe not. As a person who teaches the importance of the meaning of words, its either sad or pathetic — not the same but equally upsetting.

On a sunnier note.  Joe and Alisha, whose poodle MJ was Tyrone’s short term girlfriend left this morning.  They had been at Ryder Cup Circle for a month.  The dogs bonded, and they were such nice people it was lovely to talk to them. They said they were leaving at 9am so we made our way 500 feet to their condo for the doggies to bid one another a farewell and quick poop.  It was just adorable. We did not say let’s keep in touch or trade e-mails.  It was a simple, “enjoyed the time we spent together”, a little hug and goodbye.  It was really nice and very honest.  We both knew the likelihood of getting together sometime in the spring, summer, or fall was little or none.   And that was OK with all of us.

On an even happier note, I had such with a longtime dear friend.  Before I started this blob, I checked to see if  I had told my Fred story before which was so good it was impossible to believe that I hadn’t but it was unfindable so here it is either again or for the first time.  The category it belongs in is either most thoughtful, most romantic or best first date ever.  It is almost impossible to remember how we met but we both agreed that it was an intro by our  mutual friend and later Ambassador to Chile, Gabriel Guerra. It was sometime in the late 70’s.  Washington DC was a much different place then than now.  The media, campaign staff and security all came to Washington at the same time.  We were, if not friends, always happy to see one another at a party or an event, some at the White House.  Whatever the Carter’s were in terms of governing, they were generous about inviting staff— not even senior, to the White House and the Kennedy Center for holidays and events. One of the most exciting times was when the Kennedy Center honors was created. The Carter political appointees were asked to be escorts for the honorees. I was asked to escort my tap hero, Fred Astaire. He told me stories about the old movies and he asked me if I wanted to dance.  Be still my heart.  Yes, of course I did.

Back to the best date. Having had no discussion about where we would go — movies, dinner, bowling, when Fred picked me up he said that our destination would be a surprise.  So, you can imagine my surprise when we arrived at the now defunct EJ Korvettes.  This was a store much like Walmart.  We parked. He handed me $5 and told me that we should each buy presents for one another not to exceed $5.  It was hilarious. I wish I could remember what we purchased. Not that it matters but the store was hardly what one would call upscale.  Another evening,  we went out for a very simple supper, and had nothing but fun from that day until Fred moved to NYC for a big TV job.  Oh well, life. You can’t live with it and you can’t live without it. ( What the hell does that mean?)

It looks like the investigation about the Trump Administration involvement with the Russians …. Hold up. Why am I ruining this perfectly lovely blob with any mention of the evil Trump.  Not going to happen.  David is on his way home from South Korea.  Haven’t seen him for much too long but, husbands — can’t live with them and can’t live without them.  Probably, I think.


We’re just sayin’...Iris

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Your Thoughts and Prayers Have Arrived...

The fabulous Robert Tutman asked me if I had seen the picture of the truck arriving filled with thoughts and prayers.  Hurricane survivors  in Florida and Texas, thought when the truck arrived there would be food, clothing, water, things necessary to survive.  Listen, I am not one to make light of spirituality, but not in place of food and water.  Take a look at the image and then think about how any times you have heard, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Think about it.  When tragedy strikes is there something we can actually do to make things better.  Let’s take the most recent tragedy because there seem to be so many lately.  The senseless killing of 17 people in Parkland, Florida.  Are your thoughts and prayers with them? What else can you do beside think and pray.  We have seen any number of groups supporting the idea of gun control reform.  How long have these activist groups been at it without much success.  But there is a different kind of activist group in this case.  The voices of our children, the targets.  How can we support them without interfering with their message.

Today I met with an old friend who i hadn’t see in about 50 years.  He was a year older, which came as a surprise, because I thought he was a year younger. That being said he was still one of the Jewish kids who always had to stand in the back of the room when everyone else sang Christmas carols.  It was great to catch up. He is living not far from me in Jupiter.  Here is another case of the wonder of Facebook. He saw where I was and got in touch. He remembered when he and my cousin Stevie ran away from Bar Mitzvah practice. They did it every week and ran down the block to the Y. But on one occasion the Rabbi came after them and Stevie, being a big biter, bit the Rabbi and hid under the ping pong table.  Oh that Stevie!

Helping people in need is no joke, though often fleeting. People most often think about doing something good on holidays.  Whether it be a coat drive in the winter. A turkey at Thanksgiving. Food and Toys for Christmas. or Chocolate eggs for Easter. In our family, charity or tzedukah happened all year long.  From what I understand, it started in the shtetls. On Friday the Rabbi would go house to house with the tzedukah box. If you were a family in need you took money out of the box. And if you could afford it you put money in the box.  It’s just how things were, and how this little corner of society tried to care for its own.

For the Catholics, (and I love these),  it is the seven corporal works of mercy:
    To feed the hungry.
    To give water to the thirsty.
    To clothe the naked.
    To shelter the homeless.
    To visit the sick.
    To visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive.
    To bury the dead.

People did not pull up with a truck loaded with thoughts and prayers.  If I ever say that again, I will always have the picture of the truck in my mind.  A Well intentioned, yet without much substance, thing to say. Amen

We’re just sayin’… Iris

Friday, February 23, 2018

What Doth We Know?

There are times you wish you knew more than you do about any number of things.  Today it was Golf.  My condo on the PGA property, is between the 6th and 7th hole.  We are across the street from the 7th green. Yesterday, we said “hey” to Tiger Woods who was so close we couldn’t even take a picture. He said hello and made a little fuss over Rosie, my granddaughter.  And today we watch him play the seventh hole and we couldn’t have been any closer unless we were playing.  It’s not that Tiger is my golf hero. it’s’ just that I don’t know any other golfer.  You might say I am totally golf knowledge free. 

We lucked out with this rental because on one side we have our own private rookery and two alligators, and on the other side is the Honda open. (I think that’s right). 

But the most exciting thing that has happened while we’ve been here is the student movement against guns.  It is my hope that it will stay a student movement and not get watered down with teachers, parents, grandparents, school administrators, or anyone who is not a student. The young woman who has become a voice for these young targets, says that “they have a right to live”, which is more important than the NRA speaking for the rights to have weapons of mass destruction.  In the 60’s the student stopped a war, made civil, women’s, and human rights a reality, and made activism a career.  It is my hope that this is happening again with young people who are angry and have an enormous capacity for common sense. 

Have you noticed that the US is about 7th in overall medals at the Olympics.  This must be a nightmare for NBC because, let’s be honest. They have very little interest in other countries.  It’s OK. We are forced to realize there are other countries who have better and more disciplined athletes than we have. Norway, the size of Montana, leads the way.   It’s cold in Korea. David is cold.  He hates to be cold.  Such is life. The weather where I am is wonderful, sunny and warm.  I love being warm.  Oh well, life is not fair.

So here’s the bad news.  TLC, one of my favorite channels with “Say Yes to the Dress” is also the home of programs like “Sister Wives” and “My 600 Pound Life”. There is truly something fascinating about these incredibly gross and distasteful  shows.  And everytime another of these shows pop up I think it can’t get worse.  WRONG. Tonight, in-between “My 600 Pound Life”, and speaking of popping up, is a new show. At least  new to me. “Dr. Pimple Popper”.  It is tempting to turn it on but not tempting enough to actually do it.  TV seems no longer to have any redeeming qualities.  Where are shows like “The Donna Reed Show”, “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”, “Alf,”  and “The Man From UNCLE”?  There probably was a time when there were people who thought these shows had no redeeming qualities.  but I would put “The Golden Girls’” up against “Dr Pimple Popper” and I feel sure my choice of the 4 old girls would come out way ahead.

Sports, entertainment, culture, games, politics. Have our tastes changed that much or have we lost perspective, our sense of humor and our moral core.  Where will we go from here? I’m not sure I’m looking forward to finding out.  We’re just sayin’…  Iris

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hey New Jersey, Leave My Aunt Alone

The invasion of the entire body and mind snatchers or Aunt Irene vs. New Jersey Social Services.

There was a show on 60 minutes or, one of the “tell all the horrible things that can happen to you” tv shows, about senior social services in Florida.  These horrible service people had themselves declared guardians of a number of senior citizens, who were living out their lives in comfortable housing even with their families involved in their care.  These human nightmares gained control of the seniors’ money, homes and lives.  They moved them into substandard housing and milked them dry financially.  OK you say, but that’s not going to happen again because now we know about it.       This is certainly not the case, with so many of our beloved elderly family members.  Take for example, my Aunt Irene.  A few weeks ago one of her “friends” called NJ social services and reported that my aunt was not being cared for and something had to be done.

Imagine my surprise when i read the note (hand-scribbled on notebook lined paper -no logo, nothing remotely official), from the ever vigilant Danielle , which said she wanted to meet with Irene and evaluate the care she was getting.  Danielle was testy on the phone.  She wanted to know what was wrong with the note she left, and did I want her to travel back to her office to get letterhead.  Not necessarily, but a card or something official would have been nice.  Anyway, Danielle, our own personal mind and body snatcher, said she needed to come to the house, look around and talk to Irene — and I, the niece and holder of the POA (power of attorney) couldn’t be there. They apparently can do anything they want to do. 

We called  Danielle’s supervisor to find out who this idiot was and here’s what she said.  “She’ll only be there for a few minutes.  She’ll look in the fridge to make sure she has food and look around the apartment to make sure everything is OK.” This was a lie.  After an hour and fifteen minutes of asking Irene questions she didn’t want to answer, and Irene saying that she didn’t know why this woman was in her apartment because she paid her bills and just wanted to be left alone to make her own decisions — which by the way she does.  When she started to administer an alzheimers test, it was enough, and I insisted she leave.  So leave she did with my Aunt in a total meltdown, still wondering why Danielle had been there at all.

Best I can figure, here’s the problem. Her friends want her to be who she was, with her hair always done and dressed to the nines.  That is their priority.  It’s not who she wants to be anymore. Really.  My priorities are that she is healthy and safe.  I don’t care if her hair is colored and poofed, and she doesn’t either.  OK, Im not crazy about the long hairs on her face but she doesn't seem to mind them.  She has the food she likes in the fridge. She doesn’t use the stove or the microwave or any appliances so there is no danger of fire.  She has a life-line and her gerontologist is in her building.  The friends think she can’t take care of herself and we don’t take care of her either.  This is not the case.  She has help seven days a week and her aide, who has become her friend, lives a half mile away.  She is 95.  She gets a pass on hair and clothes.  


Anyway, Danielle is still on the warpath.  On advice of counsel, I don’t have to talk to the yahoo from the state and she is not allowed to talk to Irene without me present.  You remember the old song, “friend friend friends, we will always be”, that is not the case when one friend gets old and the others do not.  In this world of “everyone has a rule you cannot break, sicko’s can carry assault machine guns. People who shouldn’t be driving due to old age or not having a license, still drive. And Children find a way to get drugs and alcohol and don’t use them responsibly.  Hey NJ, there are real problems out there. Leave my Aunt Irene alone.  We’re just sayin’....Iris                                                                                                                

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Thanks For Nothing, Audrey...

While the State of the Union, proceeds and we know that the President is quite ingenuous in his conversation, it is merely a reminder of how screwed up the country is. For example, I tried to make an appointment with my 94 year old aunt’s internist, and the conversation went like this.

“I’d like to make an appointment for my aunt.”

“Well let me check but I don’t think she’s been here for two years.”

“OK — then she should see him as soon as possible.”
    
“Yes, but we would have to consider her a new patient.”

“OK but she’s been seeing him for 35 years.”
    
“Yes, but she has to be considered a new patient and he’s not seeing new patients.”

Makes perfect sense, right?  I think not. 

How about this one. I had a test for lack of vitamin B.  When I called the doctor’s office they said that they couldn’t give me the results over the phone.  OK, but it’s my body why can’t I know?  And this has nothing to do with HIPPA.  The doctor wants to speak with me to explain.
    “What if my test is negative?” 
    “The doctor still needs to see you.”

But here”s the best. My 94 year old aunt is living happily at her lovely apartment which overlooks the Hudson River and the GW Bridge.  She loves it and she is not comfortable with strangers or intrusion into her daily routine.  One of her very dear friends called New Jersey Adult  Social Services to report that she wasn’t being taken care of.  This Jewish Yenta knew better than anyone what needed to happen with my aunt.  She needed to have her hair done.  She needed to look nice and have lovely clothes (“because,” she said, “she can afford it.) How would she know?  Isn’t it always about the money.  Anyway, this bitch “turned us in” for not taking good enough care of my aunt. Let me tell you about my aunt’s day. She goes out for lunch, movies, walks in the park, every day with her aide.  On Friday she goes out with her friends, the ones who don’t think we take care of her.  GEEZ.

Enough whining.  I would like my aunt to live out her life in exactly the way she chooses.  Yes, she has short term memory loss. And yes, she likes to stay home and read her magazines. And yes, she wants to look out her window and see the ships sail down the Hudson.  She doesn’t cook or use anything electric other than her TV. She has her hot meal at lunch, and eats salads for dinner.  But her friends send home food from their lunches on Friday which she doesn’t eat, and when we told them that, they were insulted.  We weren’t taking care of her the way they wanted us to…. So they called social services.  

The visit by social services was horrible.  They were intrusive, insensitive, and abusive.  But her friends thought that was the route to take.  Here’s the most horrible sentiment of the day.  When I told her  so-called “friend’’ that it would cost my aunt a fortune for lawyers, she replied, “Well, she has the money.”  Thank you Audrey W, who knows more than anyone else about care for my aunt.


So what now?  Donald Trump says the world is fine. He has eliminated protections for the environment. He has determined that everyone who enters this country from Mexico is a murderer. He has no respect for the rule of law or protections for our valued institutions like the FBI or the Justice Department. It is impossible to list all his lies or inconsistencies.  He is so full of shit that it is hardly worth arguing with what he says because it changes so frequently but nevermind. There is no respect for the elderly, the immigrants, the veterans, women, the poor, the students, or the opposition. We should all be ashamed of what we have become.  We’re just sayin’…  Iris

Friday, November 24, 2017

RIP Wally McNamee, Our Pal

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There are some people who you always know you can count on, no matter what.  They are not necessarily your best friend. You may not see them for a day, a month, or a year. But you know they are always around. Wally McNamee was one of those people. Always good humored and always positive despite the seriousness of the situation.  A few months ago mutual friends invited us to visit with Wally one last time.  He was ill and his son had moved him from the Carolina coast to the  DC area to take care of hm.  Wally wanted to say goodbye to his photo friends and some of the people he wanted to see.  To fade your own mortality is a brave thing to do. 
Anyway, His son brought him in a wheel chair attached to an oxygen tank and mask.  It didn’t matter, you could still see that smile even though it was partially covered by the plastic.  When you write about someone you loved you can only describe what they meant to you. So forgive me for the “me” element.

Wally covered Presidential campaigns and the White House at a time when there were no cell phones, computers or almost any technology. We met on some campaign and continued to enjoy one another’s company beginning in the mid 70’s on some political trip.  It was hard working with the media because they did what they were supposed to do and as staff, we did what we were supposed to do -- and often produced conflict.  The press, especially photographers, did not with a few exceptions, “have our backs.”  Wally was an exception. He was someone who not only saw the humor in what we were all trying to do, but he was able to recognize when someone, be it a photographer, staff, or VIP,  was being an asshole.  And he always found a subtle way to let them know that their behavior was unacceptable. Sometimes it was a little more forceful than words — like the time a Russian photo thug was pushing us around, and Wqlly clocked him on top of his head with a fairly big camera.  The camera was not hurt.  And my favorite Wally story was when we were in France or China (they all start to look alike), and a 4 foot tall and 4 foot round pretend white haired female writer/photographer, couldn’t get past foreign security. No one ever knew how she got them, but she had permanent White House credentials. And she was always a pain in the butt. For example, when David…. never mind.  Anyway, she was trying to get through foreign security. They looked at her and even with White House credentials, they wouldn’t let her through.  She saw Wally and begged him to help.  He thought about it for a minute, pulled out a dollar bill which has George Washington’s picture of course, pointed to that picture, pointed to the woman, and the guard let her through. 

It is hard to explain how dear some of the people with whom you travel during these stressful times become to you.  You bond personally and professionally. We celebrated holidays, happy occasions, and sad times with the friends whose company was important and whose lives and family were intertwined with our own.  When you are writing about someone like Wally, it is impossible to express all the emotions you feel. But you, our readers, understand. 

Wally and Nikki. They were simple attached and it is hard for me to mention one and not the other. This blob will include what I wrote about Nikki MacNamee  who was Wally’s wife and in a women’s group we started when, as newly arrived  young women in DC, we needed friends. Nikki died a few years ago and was missed by all who knew her.  Wally died a few days ago, it is hard to believe he and his wife Nikki are both gone. 

Nikki was also a  star.  Politics and photographers were mostly what brought us together.  And that gave us opportunity to see one another outside the group –- which was also nice.  Usually we had a bite at whoever’s house and often go someplace for a drink. (those were not days we worried about drinking and driving because we never drank very much and we all lived within a few miles of one another.) There was one night when Nikki made a request of a biker bartender that we all laughed so hard we almost fell off our bar stools.  She wanted a Courvoisier and ice. It was hard to imagine that she actually expected them to have it, but it was what she wanted and expected.  The bartender looked at her as if she was speaking some foreign language and said, “we don’t have none of that,” and Nikki persevered.  “Well you must, it’s cognac and you must have cognac”.  It went on for quite sometime, until in frustration she said, “OK we are outta here, and we are not coming back.”  We were still laughing when we left.  Of course we are not coming back, we didn’t know why we were there in the first place.

Wally and Nikki were simply  loving, gracious, independent friends, and always up for some kind of adventure. When you are married to a photojournalist, you have to be pretty flexible.  The best part for all of us was that she and her husband adored one another.  It was wonderful to watch them together and to be a part of their lives. Rest in Peace my friends, we are comforted by the fact you are together again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taking Stock

When was the last time you took stock of your life? Here’s what I mean. Have you thought about the things you have done and the things you might want to do. If you are under 40, you might not know what you want to do, but you probably have goals, (hopefully). There is no limit on what you might to do. (And dressing like the First Lady is not allowed to be on your list, whether you are female or male.)

That being said, my brother says I should look for a project.  He does not understand that life going forward, for a woman of a “certain age”  reinvention may be necessary. Yes, you have ongoing skills and an expertise of some sort, but you need to airlift all that to a new life.  Which may or not work.  For example, if writing is a passion, that is a skill to develop. In my life there have been  three books, a musical show, and an almost daily blog/essay.  The books had some distribution issues and the blog depends on inspiration. Oh, and then when something terrible happens, all my words escape from my brain.

Anyway, the first reinvention I thought about was to organize for #MeToo. That requires finding funding. Not sure how much, but big bucks. What is so fascinating is that for many of us we didn’t share the experience with anyone because we were embarrassed or we thought it was our fault. Even those of us who are ordinarily outspoken, really outspoken. Women who have something to say about everything.  The Harvey W episode was predictable and expected. It is simply stupid to blame people who were victims for not talking. It is not ordinarily what women do.

The other item on my reinvention list is a course/workshop that has been evolving for years. If I were a celebrity the journey might not have taken so long. It involves developing communication tools to help people (focus on women) work on ways that encourage positioning (how we want to be perceived in order to meet life goals, courage- put on our big pants, and power- the ability to make your own life decisions.)

This sounds so simple. It’s not. Since the turn of the century, or as my mother would say, “since Hector was a pup,” or as my son once said, “when you were alive”... How many reinventions have I suffered?  By last count it has been 8 — some of which have been repeated in different situations.  And what’s been my favorite?  There have too many to limit it to one, but I loved being Director of Security for a National political convention.  In addition it was amazing to go to India and produce the events for the film “Gandhi,” working with Sir Richard Attenborough was no small part. And being able, as a Diplomat to travel to China with Hillary Clinton when she said, “women’s rights are human rights,” which by the way, no one in China saw. Those are highlights in an otherwise eclectic career path. And yet, I would be remiss if mentoring young people, especially young women, was not included.

And how about Donald Drump? He is not my role model (you knew that) but he reinvents himself every half hour. You think that’s easy? Not unless you have no moral core, not much of a brain, no principles, and wear horrible orange make up.

On what path will life take me?  As long as it demands courage, power and good communication skills for positioning, I am certainly excited to find out.   We’re just sayin’… Iris

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipsing of Our Time

The eclipse was all it was supposed to be…. exciting and dark.  Even if it was only 75% here (New York).  The glasses we wore were seriously weird.  I kept thinking I was looking at the moon when I was actually looking at the sun, but through the glasses.  I cant wait for the next one.  It’s only seven years and it’s possible that I might make it.  Almost as exciting as the eclipse were the crowds that gathered.  In New York City it was a cloudy day. But every street corner was peopled with folks in the dark goggles who cheered everytime the the sun tried to sneak past the moon.  It was as if there were a little community of people on every corner all chatting about what was about  to happen.  It was such a relief to have a break from all the noise on the news.

Yesterday David mentioned something about a goober.  Is a goober like a booger I asked?  No, he said.  Well, is a goober what you spit from your mouth as opposed to a booger, which you snort from your nose. Yes, it is a little gross but how did the booger and the goober come to be.  

Supposedly the goober is a peanut.  Have you ever substituted goober for peanut.  Needless to say, it’s southern.  Also southern is the booger which is defined as dried muscus but used in a sentence it has nothing to do with snot.  Here’s the way the dictionary used it; “That shark was a mean-looking booger.”  “Paddle the little booger and send him home.” OK, so then snot is supposedly an synonym for booger but used in a sentence it is “a disrespectful or supercilious person.” 

Anyway, having answered that question we can get on with much more important information.  You think I’m going to talk about Trump but you are incorrect.  As many of you know I listen to books on CD.  Many of the books I enjoy are by Southern authors and take place in the South. There is nothing as colorful a Southern woman dressing down someone who has been offensive and making them feel as though the conversation has been a compliment. Anyway, having been at the receiving end of one of these conversations the ability to manipulate the rhetoric is wondrous, or something close to that.  

So let’s pause for a moment on the disaster that has become the United States Department of State, which didn’t start out so great.  It is a nightmare of a bureaucracy.  Trump does not understand how the government works. As a consequence, he  not filled Senate confirmed diplomatic positions.  He talks about increasing diplomatic responsibility without having diplomats to carry out the work. Confirmations take a long time, so who knows if there will ever be enough people in those positions.  And speaking of troop increases (I think we were),  in case you didn’t notice, all the people making these decisions —- making Trump policy decisions, are old white men.  Is there any reason why anyone, except old white men, should feel good about this? I’ll give that a big fat NO!  It’s like we have jumped back to 1950, where people didn’t know about drinking and smoking when you were pregnant, dangers to the environment if you didn’t have regulations, human rights — all the human rights, and common dignity, the importance of a moral core, and women not belonging at the decision making table.

HERE’S A POLICY QUESTION, don’t you just want to slap the President about the face and and neck.  Let’s be clear, the Presidency is sacred. This person who sits in the Oval office pretending to be the leader of this great nation, is neither a leader or the Commander in Chief, because he wants to be in charge without being personally responsible for what he says or does.  What a disservice to the country and the people. How did we get here? 


Truth be told, I prefer to talk about goobers, boogers, and snot. All of which can be used to describe the present occupant of the Oval office.   We’re just Sayin’…Iris

Monday, August 14, 2017

Billy Jack - the Candidate

Does any of this sound familiar?

Billy Jack is a "half-breed" American Navajo Indian,[2] a Green Beret Vietnam War veteran, and a hapkido master.  Jack defends the hippie-themed Freedom School and students from townspeople who do not understand or like the counterculture students. The school is organized by Jean Roberts (Delores Taylor).  More…

A group of children of various races from the school go to town for ice cream and are refused service and then abused and humiliated by Bernard Posner and his gang. This prompts a violent outburst by Billy. Later, the director of the Freedom School, Jean, is raped and an Indian student is then murdered by Bernard (David Roya), the son of the county's corrupt political boss (Bert Freed). Billy confronts Bernard and sustains a gunshot wound before killing him with a hand strike to the throat, after Bernard was caught in bed with a 13-year-old girl. After a climactic shootout with the police, and pleading from Jean, Billy Jack surrenders to the authorities and is arrested. As he is driven away, a large crowd of supporters raise their fists as a show of defiance and support. The second movie -  “Billy Jacks trial” went on for as long as the campaign.

As it happens, there were two Billy Jack movies on the SonyMovie channel this afternoon. And why were those movies of interest to me?  Well, there are those times when my Presidential politics were more colorful than the usual; candidate establishes credibility, raises money, builds a campaign, and runs for office. But he was not a traditional writer, producer or film maker,  “Billy Jack”, Tom Laughlin, was not a traditional Presidential candidate.  It was never clear how found his way to me.  Maybe he heard about the time we ran Lee Iacocca for President.  Of course, Iacocca was not happy about our campaign. But we raised $50,000 and got terrific press and even better, we were only allowed to build a campaign if the candidate didn’t agree to be involved  And, be assured, he did not agree.

The campaign had no money. They expected me, (me the entire political staff),  not to want any money.  That was not going to happen.  I designed a campaign strategy and made some suggestions.  They were nice, if somewhat delusional, people. He still thought that as Billy Jack, he would be recognizable, and have an automatic following.  He thought his Q rating remained off the charts. They agreed with nothing I thought they should do.

Their expectations of me became very complicated.  As the consultant, the driver, the scheduler and the person most likely to underwrite the campaign financially, there came a point when it was impossible to continue to work for them.  Them being Tom and his assistant, not his wife.
Anyway, David and I took them to the White House, where we still had friends who pretended to know who he was.  And that was the last I heard about him until I read his obit.

“Tom Laughlin, the actor, writer, director and producer who created the “Billy Jack” movie series of the 1970s, a low-budget fusion of counterculture piety and martial-arts violence that struck a chord with audiences and became a prototype for independent filmmaking and distribution, died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 82.”

The obit also mentioned that he changed the way Hollywood movie distribution was done. And that he made 80 million dollars on the Billy Jack movies. He was relentless as well as rich.  He could have paid me and an entire staff if he had wanted to do that.  His intention was not to run for President but to get info for his remake of “Mr. Smith goes to Washington”, of which there is a trailer but the movie never got released. And ended on this note “Blah blah blah.” He later became an outspoken environmentalist and antinuclear activist and sought the Democratic nomination for president on several state primary ballots in 1992, 2004 and 2008. I was the campaign staff in 1992.  After I left the “Not really” Billy Jack Presidential campaign, I created chickens for the Clinton campaign — which was a much better, and much more fun to do.  We’re just sayin’….  Iris

Friday, July 28, 2017

Your MOM!

In our youth my eight aunts never let a opportunity pass to present us with words of wisdom.  Aunt Fritzy and Aunt Helen were persistent in their advice about how we presented ourselves publicly. As an aside, there were no warnings to the male cousins, just the girls.  Some of my favorites were “ never forget your background and breeding,” and another was, “it doesn’t matter how inexpensive your jewelry was because it all depends on who is wearing it”.  The other  item of particular interest presently is that in my family the pet names for body parts were incredibly colorful, but not until the past two days did I realize how colorful they were.  The pet for the vagina was “mooch.”

Moving on, if you are the kind of person who, when you used bad words, your mother would threaten to wash your mouth out with soap, or if you aspire to be a human rights advocate, do not turn on tv, go on your computer or read the news today. The Mooch’s profanities were off the charts, and Trump decided to forbid TransGender individuals to serve in the military.  We knew all the time that the senior administration was peopled with racists and bigots,  but when I hear some of their rhetoric,  like this statement is followed by “he’s playing to his base,”  I am seriously  discouraged by the fact that his base is 35% of the voting public — this means 35% of this country (you may remember it as “land of the free and home of the brave,  are also bigots and racists.)  That,  as some say, “stops me in my tracks.”  Some of them are even my friends. Geez. Let’s change the subject this is too depressing.

Yesterday a few of my college girlfriends came to spend the afternoon, evening, and morning in N.Y.C.   We have known one another for more than 50 years.  We do not talk everyday or even every month, but we have kept our connection since we were seventeen. People change and so who knows what our lives have been like, but one common element is that we have all lost our mothers.  Some of us more recently than the others, but that kind of loss doesn’t go away.  Mothers and daughters, is a never-ever and uncomplicated relationship.  Some of us have daughters and my guess is that those relationships are not uncomplicated either. As you can imagine, there were many questions asked and answered.

One thing we talked about were 3 options when you are dealing with adult children and probably more. You could offer to  help them cut down the tree.  Or you could offer advice, this time you make suggestions about how to use a saw, but only if they want you too. The third option is to say, “you had a hard week, I’ll cut it down myself.”   My tendency is to rush in and  do it myself rather than wait for my child to do it. I operate much faster than most people.  And it appears when I want something done, I’m usually the only one who cares about it.  Like cleaning off the counters in the kitchen.  Or cleaning out the fridge, making the beds, and keeping the dog  food bowl, and water dish filled.  If your children  are sloppy as children, they most likely will be slobs when they grow up. But at some point that is no longer your business. If you do everything for them they will never be able to do anything for themselves.  As parents we want more for our kids than we had. We convince ourselves we are always doing the right thing. For example,  when we told them they were ‘fantastic,’ we never let them lose, and we fought many of their youthful battles.  Ha, Then we wonder how  we produced a generation of entitled kids. And God only knows what their kids will be like. 

Back to my college pals, all have kids and one confessed that her mother never let her do anything. So when she had children she never told her kids what to do. When we all lived in the dorm we spoke to our parents maybe once a week and only if we could  hot wire the pay phone in the hall. They didn’t expect anything more than that one call.  We didn’t  expect much from our parents, except maybe a check. What do our kids expect from us?  See how you do answering some questions.  What was the favorite thing that your mother did?  Did you like as well as love your mother?  How did other people feel about our mom?  What do you see of your mom in yourself. My mother always sparkled, which was often an embarrassment. Her style was flamboyant.  She was pretty funny sometimes but her sense of humor was questionable. However, she was busy so  she let me do anything I wanted to do — short of something dangerous. Which was never out of the question. 

What do you think Trump children think about the chaos and profanity. Maybe they don’t care or they are numb to it. Maybe they should wash their father’s mind out with soap. Or maybe they are so entitled that they are just having fun being in charge of the government without knowing anything. Oye, If they didn’t care about pussy, we can be sure they don’t care about the Mooch.  We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Sunday, July 23, 2017

No Problem!

Exactly when did people start saying “no problem” instead of 'you’'re welcome?'  I am not surprised when I hear, 'no problem' from kids, but it is curious when you hear it from adults who you know were taught to say “you are welcome.”

What does “no problem” mean. I.believe it's worth exploring. Kind of like kibitka, unless it's not like kibitka. It doesn't surprise me that you don't know kibitka, unless you played dictionary and then you would know everything. A kibitka is an old Russian wagon. However, one night in a serious Dictionary game I defined it as “a miraculous recovery. “ 
Yiddish speakers will tell you that one of the most remarkable things about the language is that the words sound like what they are, like kvetch -- where  you often elongate the middle “eh.”  Let’ take that trip down “let’s pretend memory lane.”  Someone does something nice for you.  Say a gentleman holds your chair when you are  about to sit. (Yeah, like that will ever happen).  You say thank you. He says, “no problem”. You say:
“If it were a problem, would you have still done it?”
What exactly would have made it a problem?
Honestly, if I had thought it would be a problem I would have insisted you not walk all the way over here, stood behind my chair, waste 20 maybe 30 seconds of your precious time to pull that chair back, pause, and push the chair back in.
4.  You are a thoughtful person. Thank you.

He would have said, 
“You are welcome” indicating that he was happy you acknowledged his kindness.
“No problem”, meaning, it was no trouble and I enjoyed being kind. Or “it was my pleasure”.
Hey, just one moment. I really like, “it was my pleasure”, meaning I enjoyed showing you a bit of kindness in these crazy days when people are likely to be mean, nasty or incredible selfish.

Are you trying to figure out what I am talking about but you’re not quite there? Stick around because we are going for a wild ride.

Why is it that when you put “THE” in front of something it is supposed to make it more important or significant.  Take for example when someone refers to Yale, as “The Yale”  does that change your entire perception of the importance of the school?  Who knows, but people name the towns in which they live in the same way.  Like “The Caldwells” or their cousins “The Oranges”. Today we saw a sign for “THE Yorks”.  Are they related to “the New Yorks” or did they break off from the family centuries ago and go north.  Geography is something we don't study anymore. Not that knowing where The Caldwells are will ever change your life, but the “THE” is the issue.  Suppose we called Trump, “The Trump.” how would that make you feel, more or less intimidated?  Not that he needs much help trying to intimidate folks, but do you think you would like “THE” Trump more or less than you do now.

Back to “My pleasure.”  This morning when I got up I wanted to call Carl Wagner. These were the best conversations ever because he would be dazzled by the sheer incompetence of the White House and he would explain it in a way that made you feel foolish about not seeing that for yourself.  These are the times I feel at my loneliest.  Like when I want to call Steve Daley for a laugh about the political insanity. Aunt Peppy for a recipe, or my mother to impart some of her ridiculous wisdom, (never throw anything at a pregnant woman because the  mice will eat your  clothes). Or Ronnie Wilde to get me out of trouble. There is no longer anyone to answer the call.  The list goes on.  Sorry for that moment of poignancy amidst all the insanity.

To tell you the truth, it is impossible to comment on what happens everyday, every hour.  For six months he has called the NYTimes fake news and then he gives them a two hour interview  where he says he shouldn’t have hired old “lock her up”.  Then late yesterday he was checking to see if he could pardon himself and his entire family. Huh? What does it all mean.  It gives me a headache just trying to keep up. What will happen today? Will we discover there was  a ninth person at that infamous meeting.  I figure in a few weeks we will find out that the meeting was so big and foolish it was held in a circus tent where all the clowns were active participants.


Gee wilikers. (What is a wiliker)?  Oh, now I remember.  It is a word used when you are totally out of anything else to say, like THE END.  No problem.  We’re just sayin’…..Iris

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Here! Frisky!! Hear! Frisky!!

Last night my brother called to say Richard Jones, our next door neighbor 55 years ago  sent him a picture of our old dog Frisky.  Wow. Frisky. When I got up this morning I couldn't wait to get to the computer. Frisky, oh Frisky, there were tears in my eyes. Ok we only had Frisky for maybe two weeks, but I loved him without conditions. But when I looked at the pic I thought, who was this cute black puppy who was clearly going to grow up to be a monster. Frisky was a collie. We got her from the Marazities who lived across the street from Aunt Fritzie. Actually, that may be how he got the name. We substituted Frisky for Fritzie.  Jeff texted me to  insist that the black dog was Frisky.  I called my cousin Stevie, who also got a puppy from that litter. He confirmed that we got collies and almost immediately gave them to Helen Costello, who was kind enough to take them and who knows where they went from there.  Stevie also shared that when Aunt Fritzie asked  my cousins Honey and Marty how big their Great Dane was going to be, they said, ‘not too big.’  This was clearly a lie, but they didn’t live in Boonton so they thought she would never see it.  There is no way she wasn’t going to visit Honey (who was, after all, her daughter) , who was pregnant. Imagine her surprise when she opened the door.


                                                                Jeff's dog Cooper

Neither my mother nor any of her seven sisters liked pets.  In fact, my mother never called Frisky a puppy or good boy, or sweetie.  She referred to them as animals who should get away from her. It was one sentence.  “That animal needs to get away from me.”  My dad was a little more tolerant, but he was always working in New York and the time he got home, Frisky was outside in his dog house.  We were lucky if they let the puppy in the house, which did not happen frequently.  My mother would say, “Jewish people weren’t good with animals,” and that was that.  Whenever there was something she didn’t want to do -m “Jewish people didn’t do it.”   He was better off with Helen Costello who was Catholic.

Frisky was not our only pet.  There is no way to answer the question, then why did she let us have a parakeet names Tweety. (Awwwww). Tweety was an average animal (my mother’s description), who played nicely in his little gage.  Jeff  and I were responsible for cleaning the bird cage and feeding our little Tweety.  It is unclear when it happened, but Tweety’s behavior  became erratic.  When a parakeet is unusually frantic, and won’t stop tweeting, you know there’s a problem.  So at least my mother thought there was a problem.  Off to the pet store with the bird to discover what the problem was.  Turns out, Tweety had a nervous breakdown.  Jeffrey insisted he did nothing but he was too young to remember exactly what he did with Tweety.  From that time and maybe until I went to college there were no pets allowed,  except fish which were still animals, but not intrusive.  Also they all looked alike and could easily be replaced with another identical fish.  But children know.

Speaking of parakeets, David’s cousin had a parakeet which, when let out of the cage, flew on it’s side.  Can you picture a side flying parakeet. Eventually it got confused enough to fly into a wall.  Who wouldn’t?  David’s pet history was much more reasonable.  His parents called his puppies by their actual names.  They had the usual problems, Poor Sweet Baby and Schuster - aka - the Black Dink, were a part of their family. They might not have been allowed in the children’s beds, but they weren’t relegated to the outdoors full time.


                                        At the Burnetts: Billy Whiskers naps with Dagmar

Oh, eventually Honey’s Great Dane went to live with Frieda, (a very very close friend of my mom’s  (like a sister, but liked animals). Lillian, who lived with Aunt Frieda happily agreed to feed and walk Shreddney Vashti — the Great Dane.  Lillian was about 4’8”.  In reality, that meant that SV walked Lillian.  It was pretty colorful to watch, and we did.  Tina and I watched until we laughed so hard we cried  as SV dragged  Lil around the blocK.  You may know that Great Danes are not the healthiest of dogs. SV died young and Lil was heartbroken but they never got another animal. Jewish people just don’t do that. Tyrone - One of America's Great Puppies
My first puppy was a rescue dog, named Sherman, who used to sit under a desk and bite people who came to our house or got into our car — if he was already inside.  I couldn’t take him when I got divorced because I lived in a car. However, when I bought my house in DC there was an irresistible Soft coated Wheaten puppy who was irresistible and insisted I adopt him. Earnest La Lekish de Q, was a wonderful friend. Unfortunately, I was allergic to him so he went to live with a wonderful family in New Jersey.  Which brings us up to date until Tyrone.  Tyrone Baloney never leaves me alone. Ty is a mixed breed, part Bichon part Poodle. He is the best puppy you can imagine.   It was not my plan to buy a puppy when we were looking for the kind we wanted. But then the owner was carrying this little white frizz ball with two black eyes around the store, and that was it.  The Groman kids, me and Jeff,  love dogs. Jeff has had a number of mixed breed big dogs and I small shaggy friends.  It turns out that having a puppy is exactly what Jewish people do.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Tyrone - at an early age....


Earnest La Lekish: having a studious afternoon --



Pay No Attention!!

More laugh riots,  or riots of laughs.  Complaints are not on my list of everyday behavior, however, when I went to the hospital to have the staples removed from my head, I was carrying my walker, which does not have wheels, so I can walk faster without it. By the way, the nurse said they remove the staples with a staple remover like you have in your office. They do and I have the pics to prove it.

We have decided to entertain ourselves by communicating in Trump speak.  For example, David will ask me if I’m hungry, and I respond, “Yes I am, unless I’m not.”  Try it as an answer to any question you are asked, like “Do you want to go for a ride?” and the response is, “Yes, of course, unless I don’t.”  Simple questions are easy but complicated questions not so much.  Like how do you feel about the State Department eliminating the Office of Human Rights and the office that deals with Cyber communication. Bet you didn’t know that, but if we are not going to have human rights in this country (as judged by the collection of “voter fraud” info) why should we be fussy about it in other countries?)  How do you even start?   Or, how about this one. We are no longer going to sell arms and supplies to the Syrian opposition because the Russians don’t want us too.  Are you stymied yet?

There are black and blue marks on my body that are seriously frightening. My arms and legs are the color of a ripe plum, which is nice on a plum but not on an actual persons body.  Enough whining! 

If Donald Trump thinks the NYTimes delivers fake news, why did he do a sit-down interview with them.  It may be that he no longer has any touch with reality.  This may be the only explanation for his erratic behavior.  If I were any of his playmates it might be time to “head for the hills.”  The most colorful element of all this Presidential “faldiraw” (is that how you spell silly?),  is that the news media (aka “fake news”), is starting to laugh at this unPresident.  Here’s what I know. The most effective way to get a response from any person in power is ridicule.  When we crafted the chicken campaign or the duck campaign the idea was to make fun of the opposing candidate — in a respectful way but always with humor. Hence the 6 foot chickens during the Clinton campaign and the big duck with the “release your taxes” song.  If the DNC had stayed out of the duck effort during the Trump campaign, it would have been successful. Take a look if you want a good laugh - 
https://youtu.be/z7dJMGdR1gw

During a Presidential campaign the people who are involved often have severe personality change.  Everyone wants to be the last one out of the office because they 1. Don’t want anything important to happen in their absence. 2. They don’t want to be perceived as slacking off.   As a result, they get tired and testy and most importantly, they lose their sense of humor.  Unfortunate, because if you don’t have a sense of humor about politics, you will drive yourself and others nuts.  You have to be able to laugh.  And when you start laughing, it is easy to see the faults of your opponent. Whatever plans you have to defeat your opposition, are more likely to succeed if it has a point, and is funny. 

No kidding now, I am afraid for our children. This President, who has lost touch with reality and who has no moral core, thinks nothing about eliminating environment protection laws led by anti-science people, programs for children, women, and the elderly (of which i am fast becoming) and agreeing to compromise the U.S. position in the world in order to make our enemies happy.  It would be interesting to be privy to how his mind works.  How does he get from A to Z without ever acknowledging L, Q, and W.  If I were looking for one sentence from a movie to best describe  what everyone in this great country should remember would be from “The Wizard of OZ”.

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” 

Liars and idiots and fears, Oh My!

We’re just sayin’….Iris