Monday, April 20, 2020

I'm back: a "safe-at-home" Rant

The picture is from the Milwaukee Independent of a protester in Brookfield, Wisconsin who was moved to risk the health of herself and others because that tiresome stay-at-home order is keeping her from getting a nice feathered trim and some kicky highlights. Never mind that deaths from Covid-19 today are up over 36000 (230 in Wisconsin.) What’s a few random dead people when your highlights are turning brassy? After all, it’s not like it's someone we KNOW..

One of my friends challenged a group of us to try to save the post office by actually using it and sending letters. Crazy, huh? So I am sitting here at the computer pounding out this while listening to the “New Yorker Radio Hour,” because that’s just the way I roll. So six of you will get this in the mail. Aren’t you lucky?

Now, I’m sure that you are just as bored as I am with the “shelter in place” thing. Here in SoCal getting into a market can be something like lining up for government cheese in the 60’S era Soviet Union. Our local market has everyone lining up (keeping six feet part, natch) and will not let you dare enter with the re-useable bag we have been told to bring for years now. No, the plastic bags are free-flowing and free. People here have stopped hoarding TP, or maybe it’s just that it is almost impossible to get and the few places that do have it will not allow you to take more than two rolls at a time. The aisles at Trader Joe’s have been made one-way and the staff restricts the number of shoppers who can be in the store at once. Ralphs and Pavillions so far don’t, so while you go through everything but a Lysol© car-wash on the way in, it’s a free-for-all inside. Until recently, farmers markets were still open with no oversight at all: you could get your Kale with a side of Covid in Brentwood until a Schwartzenegger kid posted a photo to instagram of unmasked yuppies cheek-by-jowl over the designer tomatoes. That changed fast.

Lots of meetings that were previously held in person from AA to Yoga classes are now being held on Zoom. This has led to a phenomenon called “Zoom Bombing.” Where d-bags with nothing better to do infiltrate a meeting and start posting chat image with racist slurs and picture of their genitals (It must be tragic to go through life with an outtie for a belly button and an innie for a penis.) The life-threatening mega close-up of my face these meetings insist upon showing is hard to love, but I do not have to wear pants, even if I make a point to do so.

Beaches in Southern California, parks and other such places are closed. Of course this does not stop people from climbing over the barriers to get there. That big wave or selfie of you looking out over the Valley is far more important than you taking care of yourself or others. Of course since Cheetoh started tweeting “LIBERATE (insert state here)” we have hoards of double-digit IQ types saddling up the SUV, affixing the flag if not a mask and exercising their right to be an idiot, even unto blocking an ambulance from a hospital in Lansing, Michigan. It really speaks to the fact that the powers that be have no view of the future than further than their nose. Newsflash Cheetoh: when these crazies get Covid, they might not be alive to vote for you, or at least too sick to do anything but mail in a ballot. But then, you’re gutting the postal service, so that won’t work either.

The only upside is that at least here in SoCal the air quality is magnificent. It’s sad that this is at the cost of many jobs that may or may not come back when this is all over. I was listening to some pundits who were saying on NPR that this situation cannot help but pound home to the average Joe or Jane that climate change is real and we do personally have an effect on our environment. Sadly, I don’t buy it. I have a feeling that after this is over and people have some disposable income again there will be an orgy of spending on the useless crap that we always thought that we “needed.” I already had an acquaintance tell me all about the new iPhone that he said I should get. “It’s only $399 and has everything you want on it!” Well, I think I will stick to my paid for iPhone 4, thanks.

I hope you are getting out, masking up and maintaining social distance. That you’re staying safe and saying sane. Write back if you feel like it; help keep USPS alive. Start collecting stamps!

Image: Milwaukee Independant 

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dear Apple, when did you become Microsoft?

Dear Mr Cook:

I know that the chances of your reading this, much less responding are about the same as me winning next year's Academy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, but I still have to write..

There seems to be a growing shift away from Apple being the company that is seamless to one that has more seams than all Frankenstein's creations combined. It started a couple of years ago when "the cloud" was introduced and people like me who had been early adopters of iTunes and had a separate id for their iTunes account (in my case my Yahoo! mail) and an a .mac account (which I was then paying for) which could not mesh.

Now it is the idea that we've bought into multiple devices and have told me that this miraculous "cloud" will make downloads instantaneous and wonderful and candy will rain from the sky when we're on our iPad or iPhone and want to download an app. But the (at least for me) reality means having to sign multiple times into iTunes (which since I've had the phone for for four years and the tablet for one I would hope you'd recognize) remember the intricate password you'd forced me to choose (written on a pad in my bedroom closet) and then get the security code on my credit card and enter that. I'm seeing seams. Lots of them.

Even worse is that you ask me to provide payment info for my work phone. Which I am not paying for.

All of these are for free apps.  Do I need to type this in bold face? FREE APPS.

What exactly is the reason for doing this?

I guess there could be some security reason that would keep terrorists from downloading a new version of "Angry Birds: Park Avenue" on my account, but then, since I registered all of my devices I assume that you know them. I also assume that this being 2014, and the fact that you sell multiple devices that you are in some way able to track them, attach them to a single user and track their purchases via location. So for instance, the fact that I wanted to download a Kodak Kiosk Free download at the Beverly Connection would not necessitate a trip home so that someone trying to download Angry Birds  Free in Sri Lanka would be thwarted.

Instead, I'm the one being thwarted.

Image: Wikimedia

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rodeo Drive Concours

Here are the photos I took from the Rodeo Drive Concours held on June 15th, 2014.

You can read about the event here

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I want to remember my father, who was a Captain and Master Mariner in the Merchant Marine.

My Father was apparently known as one of those "wild" Pease boys in my hometown in Massachusetts. Of course in those days I suppose that being "wild" could mean parting your hair a half inch to the left or wearing a red tie on Thursday.

I do know that he saw my mother (who was several years older) driving through town in her Ninety-Eight convertible and decided that she was the woman he would marry, He wooed and won her and in a short period of time they were married. My mother used to joke that the whole town used to think that she went from being a suspected lesbian to being a tramp, since courtship and marriage were so quick. She quipped that they thought she had to get married, but she kept her legs closed for three years just to keep mouths closed and to postpone my older brothers birth.

Dad had a goofy sense of humor; not above pulling his partial forward to make a punchline. He also had an unshakable sense of family. We moved his stepfather into our house and we all thought of him as our "Grampy" until his death, as we had with my uncle for whom I am named.

Our living situation was not standard: Dad worked for months on his ship, and then had months off. I actually found this to be kind of cool; Yes, he'd be gone for periods and in the pre-FaceBook days we'd sometimes celebrate Christmas via Polaroids and trans-continental phone lines that seemed like you were under 300 feet of water.

But when he was back, he was back 100%

In summer we'd take long drives in the beach wagon, stopping at the Dairy Bar for a soft serve for all of us, even Jackie the dog, who always went with his butt against the front seat center armrest and nose in the AC vent. That is, until the farts kicked in and Jackie would make a beeline for the third row with a canine look of "don't hate me"

The thing I remember about my father is that he had an open heart. He took his stepfather into his heart and home and gave me the gift of knowing my "Grampy." I distinctly remembering him saying that  he wouldn't care if one of us came home with a mate who was "black, white or sky-blue-pink."

The worst part of him dying when I was so young was that I never really got to know him. I remember him as a figure or a force- the laughter, hiding in his jacket when watching a scary movie, his infrequent  anger when I was being a devil child (and oh baby, I could be and still can…)

Dad, I wish we'd met..

Photo is Dad receiving an award from the Secretary of Transportation (the Gallant Ship award) for his role in rescuing sailors from a sinking (I think) Swiss freighter in the 60's when he was on the Cotton State. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Star Sightings

Having worked retail in both New York and Beverly Hills (well, years ago) I've had quite a few run ins with people who were stars, or thought they were. I'm not going to go through the boring "this person was an a$$hole" ones since that doesn't float my boat, but there are a few of them that I remember since they were such a delight.

The first one was when I worked at Dean and Deluca back in the 80's. Oh we'd get stars in there all the time- I remember Richard Gere looking very American Gigolo coming in and posing by the pasta. Beautiful, but short. I used to smoke back then, and would duck out in my white shirt and apron even in the dead of winter for a nicotine-fueled mental health break from stocking shelves. At the time Katharine Hepburn was filming a movie called "Grace Quigley" directed by Anthony Harvey, who apparently lived above us on Prince Street. Hepburn had made several appearances at the store, but this one time I was smoking on the stoop as she arrived. I didn't want to intrude on her so I sort of went into New Yorker "you're famous so I don't see you mode." She looked at me with her arms full of packages and asked if I would yell up to "Tony" since the buzzer seemed to be broken. I did as she asked and then she very gently told me that it was freezing outside and I was "red as a beet," and that since I was standing there as a well brought up young man I should hold her parcel until Tony came and collected them. She was of course perfectly correct; I held the packages.

Later I worked at a gourmet store near Bloomingdale's. I brought the place, filled with jaded New Yorkers to an absolute halt by announcing I had seen Garbo. Out at lunch walking around I had seen her- a striking older woman who reacted to my look of surprise and recognition with a look that read "please don't react and please don't approach."

I didn't.

Kitty Carlisle Hart came into that store once and flirted so outrageously I considered converting..

In Beverly Hills I worked at Rizzoli when they had a store at Two Rodeo and there were are few stand-outs. Betsy Bloomingdale was one of the nicest, most approachable people we had as customers. Jackie Collins was a staff favorite- she'd come to sign her latest Full Frontal Jackie: Limo, Publicist, Hair. But so nice to everyone we looked forward to seeing her. On off days she'd pop in in a ponytail and sweats looking not a minute over 30 to chat about the new fiction and buy.

One day this absolutely gorgeous woman came in and bought a ton of stuff. I knew I'd seen her somewhere but couldn't figure it out where. She could read my face that I knew her and was giving me the most teasing (in the most innocent way) looks. Finally she gave her Amex: Pamela Hensley! Princess Ardala in the flesh!

Sharon Gless and I chatted about CC Brown's chocolate sauce. Personally, I think that anyone who likes to eat likes to do other things as well. From the gleam in her eye, any man who's spending time with Sharon is having a great time..

I particularly remember talking with Molly Ringwald. I was manning the register and we had a vivacious chat about the book "The Rules." which corporate forced us to carry and put by the register. I considered the book swill as did she and we had rather a time discussing it.

I'll close this with the time I waited on Faye Dunaway. I was working in West Hollywood as a waiter and was covering a breakfast ship for someone who called in sick. Ms. Dunaway has a reputation of being "difficult" as an actress. I can only say that as someone who served her breakfast, she was friendly, undemanding and left a good tip.

So Faye is okay in my book.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Who's Tasting Whom?

I was watching "Visiting... With Huell Howser" (and missing him) when he visited a place in downtown LA that processed meat. Huell freaked out when confronted with a bin full of cow tongues awaiting blanching.

I could kind of relate.

I can still remember the first time I ate tongue. I was hanging out with my bestie Moo and her mother invited me to stay to dinner for the first time. Being a well-brought-up teen I didn't do the classic American teen thing and ask what was being served, I simply accepted with a thank you and called my parents to tell them I was dining at my friends house.

Background on friends: dad was a doctor, mom the head of the Italian language department at our local women's College. They were very European- it was the first home in which I experienced Pesto.

It was also the first home I experienced tongue. At that dinner. We sat at that table and the tongue was wheeled out for carving. Whole. On the plate. It was carved and served.

It was delicious.

Image: Wikipedia

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Remembering a Friend

Today I went to IKEA to buy some furniture. Of course this ended up being a process, ordering a pickup from ZipCar, remembering where the hell Burbank is, trying to resolve my shopping lists against massive piles of stuff called "Flövig" or "Hœkenføn" or "Plęnf." By now at 8PM I have assembled most if not all of my furnishings and am sitting back with some Trader Joes's tamales and a glass of red wine.

I also had to populate some of the storage I bought.

Some of it was books or little things I had collected over the years, little things I had from my family home. One of them was a little a little silver bowl given to me by my friend Mimi, which I was polishing with toothpaste (which works marvelously, especially with the natural ones without harsh chemicals.)

If you've been an avid reader of this blog, you know all about Muriel "Mimi" Monette. If you were lucky enough to have known her, you would as I do still remember and treasure the times you had together. One day in the last year of her life after a jaunt to Malibu (Santa Barbara at that point was too taxing,) after out customary glass of champagne at her apartment she picked up a small silver dish and told me "I want you to have this." I demurred at first but she insisted, so I took it, and still have it.

But you know what I really regret, and am horrible enough to admit? That I didn't ask for a couple her paintings! Mimi was an artist- the best kind. One who did it for the pleasure it gave her, and if she painted you the pleasure it gave the subject. She especially loved the coast of Southern California and loved painting the life guard stations from Santa Monica to Malibu.  There were at least a couple of those paintings I wish I had been crass enough to just ask for rather than just admire.

But, I can content myself with her letters in her strong script which I've kept, a small silver bowl, and many delightful memories of my dear friend "Mimi" Monette.

I hope her family treasures those paintings.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Tale of a Sofa

Or, no good deed goes unpunished..

One of my neighbors asked a favor. They know I work from home and asked that I let into their apartment delivery people with a new sofa for them. Basically being unable to come up with an excuse why I couldn't do so, I said yes. I asked them to let the delivery people have my number so I know when they get here and they let me know the timeframe.

So the delivery takes place. The sofa isn't just a sofa, it's a sectional monster that would look bulky in, say, the departure lounge of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, Grand Central Station, or perhaps Utah, never mind a medium-sized apartment. The delivery people can't get it into the lobby- it won't fit into the elevator and can't be manoevred up the one stair from the lobby.

After much hazzerei the delivery guys manage to cart this mauve chenille dinosaur down the alley and around to the back, and without smashing any light fixtures or having coronaries deposit it and the ottoman (itself almost the size of a Honda) in the living room. My neighbor hadn't really made room for the behemoth so it was more in the middle of the room than against the walls, but I wasn't going to fool with his stuff and neither were the now-sweating people from Bob's House of Oversized Furnishings.

I certainly wasn't going to tip them (since I wasn't left any money to do so, and I wasn't even invited to the party that the new furnishings were being premiered at) but I did give them some bottled water I had in the icebox. It's only fair and only human.

Come this evening I get an email from the neighbor. Not "thanks for doing this, I owe you a drink." Not "thanks for doing this, please come to the party." No, I get "Omg they made the couch wrong!  The L shape is on the wrong side!!  :("

My response? "Oh dear. I guess you should have been here after all." After all, if you choose to have a sectional that could be used as an emergency landing strip by small aircraft wedged into your apartment, your sanity is the thing I'm going to be questioning first, not your decorating abilities..


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I'll always remember them this way- before Battery Park City, before the area became a hub of activity with apartments and shops. Two cool, somewhat detached towers that were an ode to American Progress and capitalism.

I wrote on the five-year anniversary: "They were not beloved when they were built, indeed they were seen as dinosaurs: the last gasp of urban-planning gone bad. They were in a sterile plaza that demolished the street grid of Lower Manhattan, a plaza so windswept that navigating it was nigh unto impossible. As an object, the cool beauty of the twin towers was successful as art, as a building it was less successful.

But I came across this image and it reminded me of how lovely the towers were, and on the anniversary of the horror that consumed so many lives, I thought a short elegy to their beauty was apt."

I think it's still apt 12 year after that horrible day.