While there may be countless things going wrong in this country - and even this city - there are also the small, infinitely important little gems that have been done exactly right and make this city so incredibly wonderful to live in. The High Line being one of them.
It's farther west for me to have the opportunity to enjoy on a daily, more usual basis. But yesterday I started at the top entrance at 30th street and walked the length of it down to Gansevort. A few too many people for my taste, and more tourists than NYer's it felt, but truly gorgeous summer day, tons of places for a sit & a view (one of the many things done really well) and good tastes along the way. I chose a People's Pop....
As I sat under the Standard Hotel busting through the Saturday crosswod, I met up with my friend Jason and together we enjoyed a perfect NY day strolling through the neighborhood - stopping at Cafe Gitane for a light bite (and fantastic hummus), continuing along Hudson Park, and ending up early evening grabbing a drink and watching the sunset at the Ear Inn.
New York - what's not to love?
My sister and brother-in-law had a big bash last Saturday night out in Amagansett to kick off their "turning 50" celebrations. They always throw great parties, and this was no different. Exept this one was at the beach and they had live entertainment - Ben Kweller. He's a total sweeheart & was great fun to see live.. for me, a first. For the last week I've got Ben Kweller in the head, and it doesn't seem to be subsiding..
Lying in bed, watching my TV boyfriend, Jon Stewart, and saw one of the more disturbing things I've seen in a while.
When I read or hear Republicans talk sometimes - especially today's right wingers, aka the tea partiers - I can't help but wonder, who are these people? What makes them think like that? Is it true ignorance, pure ideology or heartlessness that makes them so cavalier about those less well-off than they are? Depending on the context, sometimes I get it. I may not agree, but understand their line of thinking, their reasoning.
Tonight, however, not at all. The topic - the Republic "class warfare" uproar over the audacity of Warren Buffet to suggest gazillionaires pay a little more in taxes. Seeing a montage of clips one after the other does certainly increase the power of these inane sound bites. But it doesn't lessen the fact that they were said at all. Watch - two parts. These people... incredibly distributing.
Friday, my sister wrote a sweet post about my dog, Harry. Aside from a few minor mistakes in some of the details of Harry's arrival on my doorstep, she got it right. Harry most definitely had the life and was treated like a prince. Lived in LA and the West Village, vacationed in upstate New York and the Hamptons, and for years was the office dog, always with lots of love - and crumbs of food. He had it better than a hell of a lot of people.
He was a sweet, quirky dog. Although he was in a little body, he always had a big personality and an even bigger heart. He clearly had stamina like no other - 18 years. And he could have lived longer. But what we're allowed to do with dogs, and not people, is decide when life isn't really living any more, but just getting through the day. Harry was leaning towards the latter - and probably for far longer than I wanted to admit. But death is pretty fucking final. And it's not so easy to make that call for someone who won't tell you if that wag of his tail means he is happy and wants to live or his inability to find me in the apartment was causing him serious amounts of anxiety and unhappiness. I know it would have been hard to make the call at any time, but since my mother died only 6 months ago, I think the indecision was a bit more pronounced. After two cancelled appointments to "put him down," I called in my sister. Since she and I went through my mom's tragic ordeal together - her consistently more accepting of the inevitable - I had to have her "make me do it." I made the third appointment knowing she would be at the vet waiting for me - so theoretically couldn't not show up...
In all the years I had Harry, I can't count the number of times people referred to Harry as my child, me the mother. It's a weird dog person thing. It always annoyed the shit out of me. I loved Harry to death (literally, it seems), and he was a definite member of the family - but he was a dog, not a kid. Never going to be able to talk, to feed himself, to venture out on his own. Other than caring for someone, tending to their needs, and wanting for them to be happy, I never compared the two situations. Caring for a child is clearly way more intense and wrought with decisions never have to be made for a dog. But on the flip side, a dog is essentially two years old forever. Harry never said let me do that myself or I'm off to hang out with my buddies, can I get some cash.
So for 17 years, I've been planning life around Harry and his schedule. His walks, his feeding, my travel, and any last minute invites... it was all about Harry being tended to. It sounds like I minded - but I didn't. I adored him, and him me - unconditionally. It is what we love about our dogs. They are always there, happy when you come home, happy when you pet them, feed them, walk them - happy to follow you around the house. And I loved him for it. But 17 years of doing - and having - anything is a very long amount of time. That 18 pound dog filled the house in a way that made him feel gigantic. And now his absence makes the place feel vastly empty.
Walking into the apartment without him is as odd as knowing I don't have to get home to tend to him. Friday afternoon I stopped by my friend Christina's to visit with her and see her brand new baby girl. I stayed through dinner into the early evening - no need to rush home. Yesterday I took my friend Jane up on her offer to come out to West Hampton - because I could, for the first time in 17 years not having to decline a last minute offer because what was I to do with Harry.
It's all something to get used to. And I won't lie that there is some freedom to it. Especially as the last few years Harry's doggy dimentia worsened and his interest in me lessened. Less relationship and more resonsibility. But it didn't stop me from having a good cry on Saturday morning as I had to throw away his unused dog food and dog treats. His collar still sits on my counter - which, eventually, when I get around to it may be a bracelet for myself. And so too remains his dog bed. Couldn't seem to throw that out yet. It's like the seat for Elijah. I know he's not coming back - but a little reminder of what he was.
I don't even know what it was that initially made me pause for even a second on this show, but something must have caught my eye. And so I then sat for the next five minutes with remote in hand, jaw dropped to my chin, staring with awe and amazement at the spectacle on the screen called "101 Ways to Leave a Game Show." (The title should really tell you everything you need to know.)
It's been a long time since I've seen television this bad. Television so bad it is uniquely and utterly special. Television so bad that you can't help but wonder about the conversation between the group of directors, producers & editors as they sat in the editing room. Were they all thinking this is awesome? Or did they know this was just a money job? God, I do hope it is the later, but sadly (for them), imagine it was the former.
In addition to the premise - which would be somewhat unfair of me to judge because, to me, all reality television is inane and its appeal incomprehensible - every aspect of the show is a stunning wreck. The host ridiculous, the casting horrific, the acting as bad as any high school play you've ever seen. (How many fake "oh my gods" were uttered in a few minute time span? Answer, too many to count). The set, the direction, the editing, the script - all of it, truly one of the most embarrassing things I've seen in a long time. In fact, almost embarrasing enough to be one of those shows that makes me want to just quickly change the channel, because it hurts too much. But not quite. The "almost embarrassing enough" soared to the next level in the scoring of god awful television, being so riveted that one is unable to stop watching.
This isn't the clip I saw last night, but I think it paints the picture... Prepare yourself. Stunningly bad television.
With famous pairings, there's always the inevitable and obvious question... Batman or Robin? Shirley or Laverne? Tom or Jerry? Starsky or Hutch? Redford or Newman? Rich or Friedman, as in Frank or Thomas?
When it comes to Colbert or Stewart, I tend to choose Stewart. Not just his humor and satire, but his whole jewish new york schtick - and that in some other alternative universe i'm sure we went to camp together.. But Colbert has been on a tear the last few night. In fact, literally making drop tears.. A few clips must be shared.
Stewart too, in fine form... and in a more pointed mood lately, which I like. If you missed Stewart being interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox on Sunday, worth a watch. One of his responses..
It’s hard to believe that only recently my mother was the “young 73 year old,” living her life, mentally sharp, interested, active, meeting friends at new restaurants, playing bridge, going to movies and plays, walking the streets of New York, feeding its economy by spending at all the best stores and nail salons. It’s hard to believe that only months ago she was always at the other end of the phone. But my mother was, and isn't anymore. On November 5th we found out she had brain cancer. And on December 16th she died.
I’ve tried to sit down and write this, write something, many times over the last few months, but never got very far. Initially I think I had wanted to give life to her memory, and then maybe in some small way to honor me, my brother and sister for the experience we had all gone through together. Other times, just to clear my head. But today is my birthday, a day that was naturally as much hers as mine. Also a day when, year after year, I could always rely on the first call of my day to be from her. Today, filling the silence with words about her, seemed like the right time to try to finish this, whatever this is.
The numbness from the shock and the emotionally exhaustive 5 1/2 weeks we spent watching as each day she disappeared a little more has worn off. But in its place, has come a strange, long mix of emotions. Initially I just felt “off,” for lack of a better term. It was time to go back to work, get back to life, so my body went through the motions. But my brain didn’t always follow. I found I couldn’t concentrate very well or pay attention to anything for very long. I can’t count the number of things I lost or misplaced during that first month. The “off” phased into a feeling of disorientation, just couldn’t find my balance. My brother described it in terms of DNA, half of it suddenly disappearing. For me, it felt like a missing limb. I knew she wasn’t there, but it felt like she was. And in her absence, pain and sadness. Now, I'm just trying to make sense of how someone is here - and then not.
There is definitely some comfort having my siblings, Jerry and Joanne, around. Both to share in memories of her, and process the whole thing. Although we all had very different relationships with my mother and are coming to terms with it in our own way, we’re all tied together in ways that go back far beyond the last few months. And the loss is profound for each of us, even as it manifests itself in different ways.
Random memories of her come at the oddest times and for no reason at all other than she is clearly top of mind. At the gym, in a meeting, on the subway... thoughts of her through the years, when she was sick, and the weeks before that, of the signs that might have been a clue there was something wrong.
My mother was a dichotomy of many things, as we all are. She was sweet, sensitive and very easy going, but also quite judgmental. She was very opinionated, but didn’t always feel it was her place to interject. (Sharing her thoughts with others instead of the intended target.) She was very loving, but could also be aloof at times, putting up just enough of a wall to keep her in her comfort zone. She could be very giving, but also unbelievably self-absorbed. She was creative, but also very smart with a good business head. She was quite weak in some ways, while incredibly strong in others - and brave too, braver than she gave herself credit for. Actually a real survivor. She just didn’t see herself that way. Ultimately, she had a very good life, fortunate in so many ways. But too often she viewed life through the lens of a half empty glass.
Regardless of the negative traits - some of which unfortunately she passed right along to me - I loved my mother deeply. She was incredibly cute, often quite silly and could really be very fun. Loved a party and a drink. Loved exploring new things, loved food & cooking (something she was excellent at), loved her kids and adored her grandchildren. My mother and I talked all the time, many times a week, if not daily. We enjoyed the city together, we traveled together, talked about nonsense – stories no one else would care about or listen to - and at times, we also annoyed the shit out of each other. In the end, although not always in the ways I wanted or needed her to be, she was there, always. For good, for bad and for everything in the middle, she was my mother - and I miss her. Especially today.
My brother and I have birthdays two days (and two years) apart. And this year, I am celebrating with him and his family in L.A. Although I didn’t get the call from my mother this morning, appropriately, the first birthday greeting I got was from my youngest niece Ruby. She is sweet, sensitive, looks very much like a Solomon and loved Grandma Judy deeply. A picture of her and her grandmother sits by her bed. And she misses her too, so we reminisced and told funny stories about her the last few days. As Ruby says, sometimes it really feels like she is still here, like she was just on a long trip.
If only, she was.
It's hard to imagine any film today that would pull together Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Timothy Daly and Paul Reiser - or even a small combination of any of them. Such an oddly weird, diverse bunch. But once upon a time the mix was perfection. Diner is truly one of the all time great films. (Link is to Janet Maslin review, 1982.. she liked it too.)
I can't remember the last time I saw it, but I've had it in my head for a while and downloaded for my flight - and what imagined would be a probable delay - to LA. But since I never got on that flight, this lazy day felt like the time. Don't usually choose the ipad to watch at home, but it really does look so damn beautiful, and the film, still worthy of the 'classic' rating.
Some of the most fantastic dialogue ever, it's hard to choose the standout scene, but Daniel Stern's "Jazz" gets the top slot. Another once upon a time ago, Shrevie embodied the passion of any true music fan and his collection, me included...
Susan Solomon is a media, entertainment and news junkie who some days feels like writing about what she reads, hears and sees - this blog is those random thoughts.