Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sunday Stealling

Sunday Stealing: The Beach Boys' Meme 

1. SURFER GIRL : “I have watched you on the shore, standing by the ocean drawer, do you love me do you surfer girl” Were you ever interested in someone (other than a celebrity) who did not return your interest? Of course! Every boy I loved desperately in high school was a boy who didn't acknowledge my existence.

2. BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL : “So be true to your school now, just like you would for your girl or guy…” Looking back, how do you feel about your high school days? Worst time in my life. It was the 1970s and despite what Donald Trump tries to tell you, America was not "great" then. Nationally were reeling through Watergate and Vietnam. On the personal front, my immediate and extended family were both unraveling. God help us all, "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" and "You're Having My Baby" were popular. All this was going on, and I was somehow supposed to care about "pep" and homecoming floats? (Oh yeah, and to make it even worse, I was invisible to the older boys I worshipped.) In retrospect, I'm surprised I didn't drink even more.

3. FUN FUN FUN : “…and she’ll have fun fun fun till her daddy takes the T-Bird away…” What was the worst punishment you received as a teenager? Technically, I'm still grounded. But, since both my parents have since died, I'm pretty sure the sentences they imposed are unenforceable.

4. I GET AROUND : “Round round get around, I get around” Where did you go on your last long trip? My last long trip was Christmas 2015 in Key West. That's the concrete buoy that marks the southernmost spot in the continental United States, beside the the last Christmas tree before Cuba.

 5. HELP ME RHONDA : “You gotta help me Rhonda, help me get her off of my mind” What do you do to cheer up after a personal tragedy such as a lost job, power outage or broken relationship? I find that soaking in the tub -- where I allow myself a nice, long cry -- prepares me to face the world again after a setback.

 6. CALIFORNIA GIRLS : “I wish they all could be California girls. The west coast has the sunshine and the girls there get so tan, I dig a French bikini on Hawaiian island dolls, by a palm tree in the sand” Where are the best boys found? I'm not going to answer this. Instead I'm posting the astonishingly kitschy David Lee Roth "California Girls" video. Diamond Dave may have worked hard on the locations, costumes and choreography, but he never bothered to learn the lyrics. Really. Go to 2:35. He sings, "I dig a French bikini on Hawaiian Island coasts." Which is not to say I don't enjoy this video. 

7. SLOOP JOHN B : “I wanna go home, please let me go home, ya ya. Well this is the worst trip, I’ve ever been on…” What is the worst trip you’ve ever been on? My birthday trip to Tampa in 2013 was pretty bad. My cousin Rosemary was going through a tense time trying to sell her house and, in retrospect, probably should have either rescinded her invitation or suggested I stay in a hotel.

8. WOULDN’T IT BE NICE : “I guess the more we talk about it, it makes it harder just to live without it, but let’s talk about it…” What is your biggest wish? I'm counting on an AWESOME AUTUMN. It will begin with the Cubs in the World Series in October. Followed by November, when I get to see that orange misogynist Donald Trump get his ass handed to him by a postmenopausal woman with a big butt and cankles.

9. IN MY ROOM : “There’s a place where I can go and tell my secrets to. In my room. In my room.” What is your favorite thing about your own personal room or space in your home/office? I love reading in my bed, because I never keep anything about current affairs in my bedroom. Currently I've got an a book on my nightstand called Jackie: A Life in Pictures. I can wind down before I doze off after turning the pages and watching Miss Bouvier evolve into an icon. I believe it's important to keep up with what's going on in the world, just not at bedtime.

10. GOD ONLY KNOWS : “You never need to doubt it, I’ll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I feel about you” When was the last time you told a significant other or close relative that you loved them? Hmmm .... the last person I said I loved was neither a significant other or a close relative. My friend Kathleen switched jobs this past week, going from a very secure position with an established company to a start up. I applauded her for following her heart and said, "You know I love and think you can do anything." Does this count?

11. GOOD VIBRATIONS : “My baby has good vibrations, she’s giving me excitations…” When do you get good vibrations? Every time I enter the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field! We just got our tickets for Cubs-Giants over Labor Day weekend. I'm so excited.

12. KOKOMO : “We’ll go to Kokomo. We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow. That’s where I wanna go…” What is your favorite warm weather destination? I'll go with Key West because 1) I'm returning there this Christmas and 2) it's mentioned in the lyrics.

13. DO IT AGAIN : “Let’s get back together and do it again…” If you could go back in time and gather up your school friends, what would you do again? Fuck to the no. Please reread #2.


I just unfriended someone on Facebook. I don't have that many Facebook friends to begin with (65, to be exact). But when I think of it, I hardly consider all 65 of those people "friends" anyway. But at least now Mark isn't one of them.

On Tuesday morning I posted the side-by-side of Melania Trump delivering a portion of Michelle Obama's DNC speech. I didn't do it to slag Mrs. Trump -- in fact, I stated* that I was positive she didn't have anything to do with writing the speech and I felt very sorry for her. I posted it because, as one who writes for a living, I didn't believe it was an accident. Plagiarism is a serious matter for professionals, and we all know how to borrow without crossing that line. My point was, whoever did this crossed that line and knew what they were doing.

Enter Mark. I met him at the beginning of my career. Back in the 1980s, we were both writers. He moved from creative to production early on because he believed there was more money and more opportunity. So I don't think he's been a writer for decades.

First, he told me I was straight up "wrong." On my own page! He maintained it wasn't "stolen," that it was just "common sentiments arranged in a familiar way." No, it was verbatim.

Then he told me "everyone does it," and sited the Barack Obama/Deval Patrick incident (which, of course, wasn't the same thing at all). How intellectually dishonest is that? Um, how could Melania Trump's stealing be just like Barack Obama's stealing if she didn't steal? I told Mark that he had his own page and he really ought to post this stuff there, not on mine.

My cousin, a musician, chimed in TO ME (he's never met Mark) about how serious this was. In the past he and I have talked about how arrangers can't copyright their "charts," and how that's when honor comes into play. While my cousin said nothing negative about Melania Trump, he did call the Trump campaign "a garbage fire." This didn't offend me, and since it's my page, that's all that should matter. Mark, however, got mad and went after my cousin.

I reminded Mark, for the second time, that he has his own page and his own page is the place to post these thoughts. I told him he cannot argue with my family on my page. I said that, if my incendiary comments caused him to forget his manners, he should hide my feed.

No, Melania DID NOT wear Jerry's shirt to the RNC
The very next morning I posted this photo for my friend Tom. He's a massive Seinfeld fan and I was sure it would make him happy. I'm only vaguely aware of the "pirate shirt" episode of Seinfeld because I never liked the show. But I thought it would make Tom smile. Before I had the chance to tag Tom -- I was posting from my phone and it's just not as intuitive as my laptop -- Mark chimed in that the picture was photoshopped. I KNOW THAT! I do this for a living, remember? Besides, the day before, in my original Melania post, I included a photo of her in the dress she actually wore. Apparently, now Mark thinks I'm stupid.

And if I'm so stupid, why is he tracking my feed so closely? I don't think the photo was up five minutes before he "corrected" it.

And so Mark is gone.

It wasn't just about politics, though politics are what brought out the worst in him. Back in the 1980s, he used to flirt with me a lot. It made me uncomfortable because he was married -- you know how every group has that guy who married younger than everyone else -- and I was involved with someone. I thought perhaps I was imagining it, because I've never been that confident in my looks and Mark's wife is a cute little blonde.

However, when he moved to Texas, an incident happened that made me wary. In 1988, I was in Dallas on business and called him and his wife. They suggested I stay for the weekend and they'd show me the town. I had a motel room -- after all, I had flown down there for a meeting -- and extended my stay on my own dime.

Mark insisted I stay with them, in their home, for the weekend. The drive would be too onerous, it would give them a chance to show off their new house and two sons, and it would save me money. He was so adamant that I gave in.

We had a nice time. Mostly I remember touring Southfork and swimming in their pool. After his wife went to bed, Mark and I were alone in the living room. He told me about how they didn't have sex anymore, and how she refused to see a doctor or therapist. EEK! I'm a spinster! I know nothing about marriage! Get me out of here!

The next morning, we all made small talk about the big storm that crashed overnight. Mark said it would be fun for him and his wife to "adopt" me. Then he could cuddle me when it stormed and hey, maybe even wash my back in the tub. This was said in front of me to his wife! Clearly I was being used as some kind of catalyst for a his/her argument I wanted no part of. EEK! Get me to the airport!

I only ever saw him once after that. It was during the OJ trial. I met him for a drink when he was up in Chicago on business. One drink, 20 years ago.

Yet as soon as I joined Facebook, he wanted me to be his "friend."

We knew each other well 35 years ago. We saw each other for 90 minutes 20 years ago. We are not "friends."

And he's a RWNJ. And he follows me way too closely. And he picked on my cool and very creative cousin.

So I unfriended him. I very nearly shot him a final message: "I'm fat now, you know." I bet if he knew that, losing me wouldn't bother him at all.

*Erroneously, it turns out.

Surf City

Saturday 9: Surf City (1963)

1) When the song was written, "Surf City" was a fictitious town. Tell us a song that is set in a real place. How about my favorite city, which was immortalized not once but twice by Frank Sinatra? In The Joker's Wild he sang that Chicago was "a toddlin' town." Then in Robin and the Seven Hoods, he declared it "his kind of town." Here's the clip from the latter. I love his voice, and his ridiculous green jacket. (Oh, hell, I just love Frank.)

2) In the song, Jan and Dean sing about riding around in a 1934 station wagon, which means the car was 29 years old when the song was recorded. How old is your vehicle? No car

3) Are you good on a surf board? Never tried. Yet I know for sure I would suck.

4) When you spend time out in the sun, are you careful about applying sunscreen?  Not as careful as I should be.

5) Dean's original partner was Arnie Ginsburg. When Dean was drafted into the Army, Arnie didn't feel like waiting so he abandoned show business and went back to college. Today he holds several patents. What is something you wish someone would invent? I live on the top floor, and our building laundry room is on the first floor. I wish there a way I could tell whether machines are available before I tromp all the way down there, laden with dirty clothes and detergent and dryer sheets.

6) Jan was a perpetual student who juggled college with recording. He not only graduated from UCLA, he completed two years of medical school at the UC Irvine School of Medicine. Have you ever considered going back to school? Sure. I daydream about a lot of things. But I doubt I'll do it ... at least not while I'm still working full time. I can see myself going back after I retire.

7) In 1966, Jan was sidelined by a serious car accident. During the years that he was unable to perform, partner Dean became a graphic artist. He designed logos and album covers for Steve Martin, Diana Ross and others. Do you feel you respond most to words, pictures, or music? Words, then music.

8) In 1978, CBS made a TV movie about Jan and Dean. If they approached you about a made-for-TV movie of your life, who would you like to play you? Carrie Fisher. We have similar sensibilities and are the same vintage.

9) Random question:  Growing up, how did you learn about the birds and the bees? (From books/the web, from parents, from your friends...) Officially, from my mother. But I got more useful information -- and a lot of useless misinformation -- from my friends.


But now I know and I'm miserable about it

My condo building has been bedeviled by bedbugs since Memorial Day. I'm luckier than many of my neighbors. I was bitten, but it happened in the laundry room, or maybe one of the carpeted hallways, not in my actual home. This unit has been checked twice -- once visually, once by canines -- so I know I'm bug free.

It hasn't been all bad. No, really. Yes, it will cost us each about $1200, when all is said in done, to rid ourselves of the pests. Yes, I've been forced to haul my laundry to the washeteria every week, which is an expensive and time consuming pain in the ass. But the attendant inspections forced me to do much-needed housework and rid myself of some clutter.

Not everyone is faring as well as I am. At this week's condo association meeting, the exterminator took our questions and said one unit was having ongoing bug trouble. Unit 208. Flipping through his notes, the exterminator told us he was surprised the owner isn't the one who reported the problem because the infestation is so great. The mattress and box spring had to be disposed of, as did the sofa, which had so many bugs it "nearly moved."

Unit 208 has been treated twice -- first with heat and then with chemicals. In the vast majority of cases, bed bugs are eradicated by heat. Yet the bed bugs are reluctant to leave Unit 207. Seems the owner is cooperating with the exterminator, but only to an extent. There is still an issue of "clutter" in the unit, and the owner is reluctant or physically unable to fix this problem.

The owner of 208 is well-known to me. He's The Saddest Boy Ever. Now in his mid-40s, he spent many years caring for his debilitated mother, who died in 2012. The condo is paid for, but he still has to come up with the monthly assessments and property taxes. He works part-time at Macy's and probably makes less than $15,000/year. But he has health problems that prevent him from working full time.

And much of the "clutter" that's getting in the way of bug treatment belonged to his late mother. I was shocked to learn that he's been living with her "stuff" for four years. And now her clothes, etc., are infested.

The woman who lives across the hall in 207 is furious. A working mom, alone with her little boy, this condo is a major investment for her. Her young son has suffered bug bites. She wants this problem fixed, NOW! Her home has been treated twice, too, but the bugs are making their way across the hall. She put tape under door to catch them as evidence.

I understand her anger, I do. But the Saddest Boy's issues touch me deeply. Can you imagine living in an apartment overstuffed with your dead mother's stuff? It must be oppressive and depressing. And how horrible to see your mother's belongings taken over by creepy crawlers!

To make it worse, his unit has to be bug free by mid-August. The exterminator has been very liberal in how he interprets his warranty for service and promises to keep treating 208 as often as is feasible, at no extra cost to us, even though the treatments may not have been successful because of the Saddest Boy's lackluster cooperation. But it's a 60 day warranty, and come Day 61 he has to begin charging us again. He's running a business here, after all.

The Saddest Boy wasn't at the owner's meeting, so he didn't hear the conversation. He doesn't know that, if he doesn't up his performance, the Village might be called upon to intervene. He can be forced to dispose of his own furniture and belongings and have his carpeting removed because he poses a health hazard. He didn't hear that, after the warranty is up, there is talk of him having to pay for the treatments himself -- even though he can't afford them. And that would mean he'll lose his home.

After all, he has confessed to me that he has trouble making the $275/mo. assessments now. I don't know how he'll come up with the additional $1200 we now each owe on top of that. And, once the warranty is up, he'll be responsible for each treatment (up to $1000 a pop) that's required to kill the bugs.

This makes me beyond sad. I have toyed with offering to help The Saddest Boy go through his mother's stuff except:

1) I don't want to touch any of it. After all, I've been lucky to have avoided the bugs until now. I don't want to track them back into my unit.

2) Clearly there's some psychological pathology here. During my long and storied career as a slob, my messiness never reached these proportions. He must be experiencing bites! If the bugs weren't feeding on him, they wouldn't stay in the unit. So clearly, he's not cooperating because he can't. And I'm not equipped -- intellectually or emotionally -- to help him.

3) In the past he has expressed romantic interest in me, and I don't want to embarrass or mislead him.

But I'm miserable and I can't stop thinking about it. He's my neighbor and he's suffering.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chardonnay in a rocks glass

That's what my friend John drinks now. He knocked back three during his birthday dinner on Saturday.

In and of itself, that wouldn't bother me. He's been a big drinker as long as I've known him. While no doctor or nutritionist will ever say booze is good for a diabetic, at least the chardonnay is a dry wine and he was eating as drank.

What did bother me is that he arrived a half hour late and was already fucked up when he got here. He took the el out here with his friend Gregory and cousin Lori. When I met him at the station, he extended his arms and dramatically announced, "The colored people are here!"

At first that pissed me off. He knows I chose this community for its diversity. My village is 24% black/71% white. So I snapped, "If you want to shock the populace with your very presence, you're in the wrong town." Then I realized he was just a little silly and stoned. Marijuana, probably.

This doesn't make me happy, the way he continues to drink and drug even with his recent health scare. But he and I have talked about it. His cousin Lori and Gregory have also both discussed it with him. This is the way he chooses to live. He's diligent about his meds. He's making an effort to move more and eat less dairy and more vegetables. And he is not going to stop drinking and smoking pot.

I am only his friend, not his jailer. He knows how I feel. I'm not acting like the temperance league here -- after all, I had two Moscow Mules to his three Chardonnays. But I want him to enjoy a nice quality of life for as long as possible because I love him.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


I've long been a little in love with Joe DiMaggio. Like Baryshnikov, he was grace in motion. Look at that swing! I remember seeing a documentary about Joltin' Joe that showed him at a charity event, raising money by bowling with a massive round of gouda. He made even that look classy.

Joltin' Joe is on the news again this summer, as baseball fans observe the 75th anniversary of his streak. He hit in every damn game for nearly two months, 56 games in all. It's considered baseball's unbreakable record.

In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chased one another in an exciting home run derby. I thought we Cub fans, along with the rest of the country, were crazy into it. The attention Sosa and McGwire got with nothing compared to the white hot light on Joe 75 years ago. A lot of it had to do with New York then, as now, being the world's media center. I think more of it had to with Joe. He was a real hero, as opposed to those two juicers.

During The Streak, his every swing was documented ... from the diamond!

After his career was over, he became famous as the man who really loved Her. The Marilyn Monroe legend is filled with tales of Dimaggio's devotion, even after she left him. One of the most enduring and harrowing has to do with Marilyn's four days at Payne-Whitney. Monroe believed her psychiatrist was admitting her to a rest home. Instead, she found herself on a cot in a psych ward. It's possible that, in long-ago 1961, a psych ward was the best option available to this very troubled woman. But that doesn't mean it was handled correctly. Marilyn was terrified, her anxiety escalated and burst through the roof. Her doctor was unavailable. Her close friend and mentor, Lee Strasburg, tried to help but was unsuccessful. She got word to Joe, who was still one of the most powerful men in New York.

He whisked her away after Payne Whitney
By that time, they were divorced. She also remarried and divorced Arthur Miller and had high-profile affairs with Yves Montand and Frank Sinatra. And yet, Joe was there for her. He warned hospital staff that he was coming to get "his wife" at the end of the day and she'd better be ready to come "home" when he arrived. If she wasn't, he threatened to take the hospital apart "brick by brick."

They released her to Joe's care. Just as the coroner would release Marilyn's body to Joe. And every week for more than twenty years, he made sure the Parisian Florist on Sunset Blvd. delivered roses to her grave. According to his friend, Morris Engelberg, who was with him when he died, Dimaggio's last words were, "It's OK. I'll finally get to see Marilyn."

Oh, I've heard all the negatives. I know of his reputation for being cheap. He and his only child were estranged at the time of his death. He could be prickly: if he wasn't introduced as "The World's Greatest Living Yankee," he wouldn't appear (which looks to me like a petty swipe at Mickey Mantle).

But you know what? I don't care. I love Joe Dimaggio. And so, to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkle sang, I'm turning my attention to him this morning.

Sunday Stealing

1. What are your current obsessions? I've discovered vintage, black and white gameshows from the 1950s and early 1960s and I'm transfixed. They reveal America on the cusp of a seismic shift that no one saw coming. On the one hand, I love how courtly everyone was, how elegant in jackets and ties and white gloves and jewelry. On the other hand, the racial and gender lines were drawn with a heavy marker. Women referred to themselves as "Mrs. John Smith" instead of "Mary Smith." Hispanics and Asians were invisible, and blacks were domestics or in the military. I feel like warning them that the times, they will soon be a-changing. (They haven't heard of Bob Dylan yet.)

2. What are you listening to? A documentary about DB Cooper.

3. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? Jeans.

4. What are you reading? Wanton's Web. It's a murder mystery set in Chicagoland and I love how careful the author is about the time/place.

5. What’s for dinner? I don't know for sure, but there is a pork chop thawing in the refrigerator.

6. What was the last thing you bought? Dinner to celebrate my friend John's birthday. We had a very nice time.

7. Guilty pleasure? Vodka. (I had too much to drink at dinner and I'm rethinking my choice.)

8. What training did you get and how do you make a living? 13 years of public schooling. And I'm an advertising writer.

9. If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, and choose a different career path, what would you train to do? I'd like to work with animals in some capacity. Maybe I'd train to be vet tech. 

10. What’s your best time of day? Late morning or late, late at night.

11. Do you like being on a team or are you a solo player? I'm comfortable in both role, but I prefer playing solo.

12. What’s your favorite way to create art? Words.

13. Name three items in your refrigerator: Aforementioned pork chop, 2% milk and Coke.

14. Tell us about your first crush: I only have vague recollections, but my mother used to tell me that, when I was a toddler, I was desperately in love with Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza. She said if anyone punched or shot him, I was inconsolable, to the point that she had a hard time getting me to bed. At first she blamed my tears on the show being one of the only ones in color and that the action was too vivid for my tender sensibilities. Then she realized I didn't react when anyone else got hurt. Just Little Joe.

15. The first time that I became a boyfriend/girlfriend was with who, when? The summer after I graduated from high school I had my first ongoing relationship with the same boy (as opposed to just dates here and there). His name was David. 

16. Do you remember what you did on your first date? We went to a school dance. 

17. How did you meet your current (or most recent) girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife? At work. It's the only place I go!

18. How did your first romantic relationship end? Badly. It was the David from question #15. I feel sorry for him in retrospect. We were so young and of course he wanted to see (and sleep with) other girls before he "settled down." Yet he really liked me and I see now how hard ending it was for him. He tried to be gentle and considerate but I was shattered nevertheless.

19. Do you remember your first kiss? Yes. I was very worried that my braces would spoil everything.

20. What do we still not know about you? I spend a lot of time on my skin care every morning. I accept that I have to age, but I'm trying hard to do it slowly.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday 9

1) This was Hall & Oates' first #1 hit. Can you name another of their popular songs? My favorite: "She's Gone." 
2) Darryl Hall and Sara Allen were a couple for 30 years, and he wrote this at the beginning of their long relationship. That makes this a very public love letter. Are you good at writing love letters? Would you rather tell the person how you feel, face to face? Or do you let your actions speak louder than your words? Yes, I can write a good love letter. I just need the right inspiration. Sigh. I once received a "love email" that I carried in my purse for years. He wasn't a particularly skilled writer, but there was so much heart in it. I wonder if there's anything such thing as a "love text." Would it say, "I LUV U" and end with an emoji?
3) In the song, Darryl and Sara are waiting for the sunrise. Did you see the sunrise this morning? Or did you sleep in? It's pre-dawn as I answer these questions. I have a feeling I'm going to crash soon, which means missing the sunrise.
4) Both Hall & Oates hail from the Philadelphia area. Hall is a native of suburban Pottstown, which was a stop on the Reading/Philadelphia rail line made famous in Monopoly. Do you like playing board games? Sure.
5) John Oates grew up a few miles away from Pottstown in North Wales. Decades ago, North Wales' biggest employer was a cigar factory. Do you like the smell of a cigar? For a moment or so, because it reminds me of my favorite grandpa. Then I want to get as far away from the smoke as I can.
6) Daryl Hall now hosts a music show, Live from Daryl's House, that you catch  free online. Do you typically watch shows from your computer, pad, phone or TV set? My TV. I tend to multitask, farting around on the laptop when the TV is on.

7) Hall & Oates are currently on tour. Are you seeing/have you seen a concert this summer? Nope. I feel kinda bad that I'm going to miss Streisand next month. Seeing an icon like her isn't a concert, it's an event! But money is tight right now and I've got to be smart.
8) Daryl and John have been friends for 50 years, even living together at the beginning of their careers when money was tight. Another successful duo of the rock era, Simon & Garfunkle, also met as teens but they forever seem to be feuding. What do you think makes for a lasting friendship/partnership? Acceptance. Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt and remembering we're each doing the best we can. And laughs! Laughter can get us through a lot.

9) Random question:  Are you quick to try new things? As time goes on, less so. I should push myself more.