Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Apart but not apart

In recent days a lot of friends are experiencing the rupture of sending their kids off to camp. Four or eight weeks apart! I  of course miss my kids, but I learned to cope with long-dtstance parenting and supervisory gaps a long time ago, and while it's never perfect, I have learned that you can still be a good parent without having daily contact.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Call

This looks like a nice shot, right? It was late October 2007 and my daughters and I spent the Indian Summer afternoon lazing around in Central Park. But I can never look at this photo without recalling its subtext: a few hours later, I was in Gristedes shopping for dinner when I got a call from my parents' house caller ID -- but it was the next-door neighbor, saying my Dad was too upset to come to the phone that there had been "an accident....."

In other words, while we were doing this, my mom, their grandmother, had died,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Autograph Hounding

What is the point of autographs (besides, I guess, the resale value on eBay)? Does it prove some kind of relationship with stardom? When I was a kid, my mom got me an autograph book, and trotted me to various events, without my necessarily knowing who the person was. I guess it was easier to have a kid ask than to be a middle-aged woman asking. (Later in life, she would go to Knicks training camp, etc., despite not having any kids in tow).

As you can see above, I was not always gung-ho. Richard Benjamin was in my hometown

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What do we do now?

After dropping my younger daughter off at the camp bus today (the older one left two days ago),  I was suddenly reminded of my touchstone movie line, from the amazing 1972 Michael Ritchie/Jeremy Larner film The Candidate(If you've never seen it, here's the trailer.) In some primal, existential way, it's the question that confronts us every day, in our jobs, our parenting, our relationships, our purpose between cradle and grave. (I'm sure others, depending on their age, find their touchstone lines in CasablancaThe Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo....)

In The Candidate, Redford has been on an arduous, absurd, Quixotic journey, which has all been about the process. Suddenly he's confronted with what happens when you get to the end, and he asks his campaign manager "What do we do now?" A very different inquiry than The West Wing President Jed Bartlet's confident, "What's next?"

Sometimes the plan is less clear than you thought it was.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zero Sum World

The longest tennis match ever just finished. Eleven hours and five minutes. The last set, Isner beat Mahut (above) 70-68. In other words, the last set alone was 138 games, 137 of which involved the players holding their service. And yet someone had to lose.

Wimbledon was so pleased with the extra attention it brought the sport that they rustled up some special awards for the judge and both players. The official presented them saying "They are both winners today."

Well, if that were true,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summery Judgment

I had some goofy summer jobs as a kid -- lugging stereo equipment, delivering repaired sportscars, waiting tables (most famous customer: Richard Simmons). But then came the internship at the Winston-Salem Journal before my senior year of college.  When I scanned this photo I took of myself back then, I discovered that my eyes were closed.

Which strikes me as funny. Because sometimes when you're experiencing a "perfect summer" and the job that changes your hobby to your profession, your eyes aren't open to it till later.

The job itself was  a fluke. Though many people on my college paper

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Photographs and memories

The opening of Toy Story 3 involves some "home videos" of a younger Andy playing imaginatively with his action figures and dolls. The whole movie is a meditation on putting away childhood things, and what we choose to save. What Andy and his parents don't deal with is what to do with all that home video footage.

I recently reconnected with the family I stayed with in North Carolina the summer after my junior year of college while interning at the local paper. That summer I took a few rolls of pictures because it was all new and different for me. To them, it was just daily life. So when I sent them scans of the photos, I was surprised at how affected they were to see those bygone everyday moments.

The everyday gets much more documentation these days.

When I was a kid, the movie camera only came out a few times a year, if that. Even the occasions for still photos were fairly selective. Holiday cards, birthdays and vacations, school events, the arrival of a new pet or car.

But after the nest emptied, my mom started taking more and more photographs

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Last night in one of those self-destructive insomniac moments, I read a news item about a "hot" screenwriter who sold a baseball movie idea based on a news story, who already has four other projects going. Now more than ever, success begets success. Anyone else pitching the same idea would be deflected -- "Baseball movies don't sell" etc etc. The executives all want to be in business with this guy because others are already in business with him.

If you choose something everyone else has picked,

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Road Taken

After a long stretch with no vacation, I had made it out to Cape Cod, where the weather was beautiful and the beaches were empty, when I got a phone call with some professional news that pissed me off.

The old me would have wallowed, tantrumed, or tried to corral a sympathy posse. But, seasoned by the difficult events of the past few years, I decided to try a more blissful path. I hopped in the Saab convertible inherited from my Dad

You and I

"You and I  
we might be strangers 
However close we get sometimes
 It's like we never met"
When Jeff Tweedy introduced this song at Wilco's concert in Montclair a few months ago, he said it was about how people in relationships can never really know each other -- even when the person is oneself.

He was kind of joking, but it resonated with me.

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