Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And Just How Long Will You Be Parking With Us?

It has been a bit of a wait since my last blob. It’s not that I don’t have something to say (just ask Iris!) it’s more like, there are so many things scattered in my head that trying to make some sense of it all becomes challenging. At least once or twice a day I say or think of something which “would make a great blob.” But unlike my dad, Ted Burnett, master of the note written on an envelope, I don’t write these things down, operating under the misplaced assumption that it’s so OBVIOUS, of course I’ll remember that when I have to write. And of course I don’t. Remember that is. But we can catch up just a little bit. I have been musing of late, trying to figure out just what the hell I’m going to say at the upcoming events related to the publication of new book ( 44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World) about the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The book was officially published yesterday (hooray! And shout out to all the folks at Contact who really made it happen, inspite of my well-meaning interference!) and last night I did a ‘launch’ event at the Barnes and Noble in Bethesda, Maryland. Being the DC suburb that it is, the most important thing on the mind of the Bethesda elders these days is scrounging every dollar that they can find (and some they can’t) from the poor hapless souls like me and my audience of last night. (Did I mention it was a terrific group of people, and they bought lots of books?)
cr: Chris Usher/BKSC

At the shopping area on Woodmont Avenue, what was once a free parking garage designed to make it attractive for outsiders to come visit (and spend their money) has become a tiered “Public Parking” facility, in the same way that the IRS is a “Public Do Gooder” organization. The tiering is craftily designed to maximize annoyance. The lower levels are all meters which are good for two hours. If you get up to level two, the meters vary between four and five hours (wow, that five hour parking, just what I need), and the meters are the kind that take 10 seconds to determine what coin you have put in, before reading back to you the amount of time you have just purchased. You have to really drive up the levels to find something for a whole day (I didn’t go that far), but even at 620pm when I finally found the place, there was a lone figure wandering like a lost peddler in search of a sell, who turned out to be the enforcement guy, the one who joyfully writes the tickets which bolster the Bethesda town coffers.
Me, in the childrens' section: Of course! cr: Chris Usher/BKSC
Parking is not unlike the ‘dope’ in Tom Lehrer’s classic song “The Old Dope Peddler.” “.. he gives the kids free samples because he knows full well, that today’s young innocent faces, are tomorrow’s clientele….” They built up the area with handy parking ten to 15 years ago, created a demand for the Austin Grill, and Jaleo (both fine cafes..) and the like, and now they just jack those meters up and wait for you to stay a minute longer so that you can be tagged for thirty five bucks. At the B&N event last night, I know of at least two people who fell into the clutches of the Bethesda parking vampire. It turned a nice little evening, bordering on one of culture and history, in to an excruciatingly painful trip to the burbs, and quite like my friends who were tagged last night, I don’t think I’ll be going back for anymore of their hospitality anytime soon. I realize there are pressures in these newly flush areas, to try and keep traffic moving, and keep new people coming in because the first people to arrive eventually spend all their money. And you need to keep the pump churning. But whatever sense of community, and warm and fuzziness might have ever so briefly been illuminated last night was drowned out by the dread of walking back to the car to see, even from a distance, the ticket on the windshield. Yes, in these days of falling housing values and skyrocketing public service costs, you need to find more and more and more. But the truth is that Bethesda, quite like Arlington (where I habitate) felt absolutely no restraint in the last ten years, upping budgets for pet projects every year without ever being reminded of the Alan Greenspan line of a decade ago: “I’m unaware that they have cancelled the business cycle.”

Anyone, especially someone with the power of the purse, should remember that the keys to fiscal management are 1) not spending more than you take in, and 2) get ready for the rainy day. Safe to say that 1 was not really on anyone’s agenda, and 2 wasn’t even a glint in the eye of the community elders. There is no secret to the fact that in walking through Manhattan now you are struck by the new, bold, and very upfront presence of a ‘new’ bank in town. TD bank, building big branches all over the city, re-acquiring wonderful two story, half block long locations in mid-town, has created quite a splash. TD is Toronto Dominion. One of those “Canadian” banks. You know, the ones that didn’t over do it, that didn’t get themselves in way over their cumulative depository heads. It is astonishing to see in this market someone arriving in the banking world who seems to be quite untouched by the last two years debacles. Maybe their geniuses are just a bit smarter, a bit more in control, a bit more reasoned that our own geniuses. Our geniuses didn’t really do such genius work, did they.

I guess I remain in favor of some of the development going on these days, but I wonder whether there is really such a need for the unimpeded onslaught to keep the public treasury full and rich. So much of what municipalities do these days are simply about keeping the money flowing. It doesn’t do much to make one either proud to be a citizen, or pleased to be contributing to such a lousy downturn of the public trust. We’re just sayin’….David

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Challahs

Yesterday I baked two challahs that were bigger than Chicago. It was the first time I have baked in my NY oven and it was almost painless. There was so much bread that I delivered one loaf to the cast of “Hurricane”, which opens tonight –good timing on the part of the NYMF. Someone should have told them that it’s too late to pray for the people in Napatree,Rhode Island who die in the hurricane of 1938.

Anyway, we decided not to buy tickets to services in New York. Maybe it’s me but I have real issues with having to pay to pray. In addition to which, if you don’t pay enough, you probably won’t get to see anything. David and I have always attended services with a group called Fabrangen (which means ringing together is joy). The services had no Rabbi and no hierarchy. Just people getting together to express their love of God in a ways that were joyful – like singing the prayers and (rather than have the President of the Sisterhood marching up and down the aisles), passing the Torah from congregant to congregant. We always made a donation to the group but tickets were not required. This year we decided (because we are part of the next century), that we would watch a service online.

It turns out that the Jewish Television Network broadcasts a service much like Fabrangen, but from the west coast ( The service, which is not Orthodox, Conservative, or Reformed, is performed (and I have carefully chosen this word), mostly in Hebrew but with an inordinate amount of music. The music and enthusiasm for their prayers, helps you forget about how hungry you might be. There is real heart and spirit in this congregation and even on a day when you repent for your sins, this is just fine.

Yom Kippur is a day of reflection, repentance, and remembering. Here are my two favorite memories:
When we were growing up our parents spent most of the day in Temple, which meant we were unsupervised. One year, knowing that we could do pretty much what we wanted and too young to consider that we were not supposed to do stupid things, especially on the highest of all Jewish holidays, we (Tina and I) took the keys to my Uncle Charlie’s car. The decision to practice our driving skills on his vehicle was totally without thought – eight year olds never ponder before they act. Things were going pretty well until Tina decided I wasn’t doing well enough and she drove the car into the kitchen wall. Luckily, no one was hurt, but you can only imagine the screaming and yelling, after we broke the news and they knew we were both alive and uninjured. I’d like to tell you we learned a lesson – not a chance. We just found other less dangerous ways to circumvent their rules.

My other favorite memory is one that reoccurred yearly. Aunt Sophie was never good at fasting and by 3:00 in the afternoon she had a terrible headache. I can remember her lying on the couch with a washcloth over her eyes, insisting that she was fine, while at the same time moaning softly about how awful she felt. Her sisters, (my mother, aunt Helene, and aunt Fritzie), were not very sympathetic but tried to make her feel better by saying things like “Eat something, God doesn’t want you to die –yet”. And, “You know, you’re not the only one who doesn’t feel so great.” Yes, they had an unusual way of expressing their love. But that banter is so clear in my mind, that I could do the two or three hours until they broke the fast, almost verbatim,

Aunt Sophie is gone now. as is Aunt Fritzie, Helene, Betty, Sarah, and Uncle Jack.. But the time we spent together as a family will never leave me…. The dinners every Friday night, the dancing to the Barry Sisters music on Sundays, the Passover celebrations, and the kvetching about not eating or drinking on Yom Kippur, are all a part of who I am and who I’d like my children to be.

Have a happy and healthy New Year, and you don’t have to be Jewish to do that. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Bags on the Bed

The other day, I got home and was relaxing when Jordan came racing in to remind me that there was a “No Bags on the Bed” rule. When you live in New York the rules for the way you live are a little different – and mostly germ related. The ‘no bags on the bed’ rule has to do with the fact that you put your bags on the ground and on the floor of the subway (where there is no shortage of filth – I won’t go into detail), then you go home and put those very same bags (the ones you dragged through the muck of New York), on your bed, introducing the vile elements to the place you rest you head at night. It’s a good rule and one I have reminded the world traveling (imagine the crap on his bags), photojournalist on more then one occasion.

The rules for living in New York, unlike the rules for living in Washington, do not include being patient while you are inconvenienced by a Presidential motorcade or two. In Washington people are used to having to drive miles out of their way when the President leaves the White House and all the surrounding street are closed. So this week was enormously stressful for New Yorkers because they were inconvenienced, not only by our President’s motorcade, but by line of cars for every Head of State in the world, maybe even the universe.

In addition to the motorcades, the police presence, which is usually not pervasive in NY, was really in your face – with machine guns and battle gear. I don’t know how the prospective terrorists felt but the rest of us were scared to death.. It brought back memories of times past. Like the first time I went to Eastern Europe, before we got on the plane, we were taken to the middle of the tarmac, and surrounded by soldiers with serious looking weapons. We were told to pick out the suitcases we had put through baggage. We moved all our bags from one pile to another and it was clear that no bags were going to get on the plane that were not identified by a passenger.

That was the first time I noticed that there were well armed military dealing with the ordinary public in a hostile way, as opposed to an treating them like they were the enemy. But I digress, (what else is new). The police were everywhere – intentionally visible. And I guess it worked, because there were no terrorist incidents during the UN General Assembly (other than, of course a few speeches in the General Assembly.) On the other hand, there were a number of abuses of power in Pittsburgh. World politics – the G20 --moved to Pittsburgh after New York – I know, world politics and Pittsburgh is an oxymoron. My favorite story was about the woman who was riding a bike and when she happened to ride by the protests, she was assaulted by a police officer. She was so angry about this attack, that she threw her bike at him. So naturally, this 300 pound thug in blue, beat the 120 pound biker, to within an inch of her life, and arrested her.

What does any of this have to do with the “No Bags on Beds rule”. Nothing specific, but it does have to do with how we accommodate to the places we live. In Virginia, I hardly ever take my shoes off when I walk into the house. In NY I would never think of walking into my apartment without taking my shoes off –and we ask everyone who visits to do the same. Again, this has to do with dirt and germs (and the white rug I stupidly purchased when we bought our apartment). But there are also other issues, some about safety, eating out, driving, and the social schedule. Not that one is better than the other, there are just different rules.

When we were growing up my mother said things like “you never move on a Tuesday,” “you must bring salt, sugar, and a broom into the place where you are going to move. “ “You never throw things at a pregnant woman (because the mice would eat your clothes).” And no hats on the table –ever. These were superstitions as opposed to rules but, at the very least, they were incredibly entertaining. And, in a strange way they were not much less sensible different than no bags on the bed. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Book of Life

Every time there’s any kind of award show there is, at some point, an ‘in memoriam.’ And it always makes me cry. This week is Holiest holiday in the Jewish religion. It is Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur –the week God decides whether or not you will be written into the Book of Life for the next year. It is a time when we reflect about those people who have died. For the last few months there have been an extraordinary number of passing of dear friends like Anne Wexler and Jody Powell, and those I never met.

In honor of those people and the Jewish New Year I would like to share some names with you and let you reflect on what they brought to your lives. La Shana Tova my friends. May you have a sweet and healthy New Year and thanks for sticking with us another year.

Natasha Richardson (actress) -- Dead. Following a head injury suffered during a skiing accident. Died March 18, 2009. Born May 11, 1963. Tony-winning actress (for the 1998 revival of Caberet), starred in The Handmaid's Tale, appeared with her mother Vanessa Redgrave in Evening, was married to Liam Neeson for nearly 15 years. Make memorial contributions to: amfAR - The Foundation for AIDS Research

"England" Dan Seals (singer) -- Dead. Lymphoma. Died March 25, 2009. Born February 8, 1948. Part of the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, best-known for "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight".

Irving R. Levine (newscaster) -- Dead. Died March 26, 2009. Born August 26, 1922. NBC newscaster for 45 years.

Maurice Jarre (composer) -- Dead. Died March 29, 2009. Born September 13, 1924. Won Oscars for the scores for A Passage to India, Dr. Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, also scored Ghost and Witness.

Dave Arneson (game creator/teacher) -- Dead. Cancer. Died April 7, 2009. Born October 1, 1947. Co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons with Gary Gygax.

Marilyn Chambers (model/adult star) -- Dead. Died April 12, 2009. Born April 22, 1952. Appeared on the Ivory Snow detergent box in the early '70s before starring in the porn classic Behind the Green Door, was married to Linda Lovelace's ex-husband for a while.

Bea Arthur (actress) -- Dead. Cancer. Died April 25, 2009. Born May 13, 1923. Maude, The Golden Girls.

Marilyn French (writer) -- Dead. Died May 2, 2009. Born November 21, 1929. The Women's Room

Dom DeLuise (comic actor/cook) -- Dead. Died May 4, 2009. Born August 1, 1933. Blazing Saddles.

David Carradine (actor) -- Dead. Reported asphyxiation. Died June 3, 2009. Born December 8, 1936. Kill Bill, Kung Fu, many other TV Westerns, and a surprising number of movie bit parts in the years before he died.

John Houghtaling (inventor) -- Dead. Complications of a fall. Died June 17, 2009. Born November 14, 1916. Invented "The Magic Fingers," a coin-operated vibrating bed later installed in motels across America during the '50s and '60s.

Ed McMahon (announcer) -- Dead. Pneumonia/cancer. Died June 23, 2009. Born March 6, 1923. The Tonight Show announcer during the Carson years, famous for greeting him with "Heeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnnny!", later, a spokesperson for American Family Publishing.

Farrah Fawcett (actress/model) -- Dead. Cancer. Died June 25, 2009. Born February 2, 1947. Charlie's Angels, subject of a huge poster craze in the '70s, many made-for-TV movies, longtime companion of Ryan O'Neal, ex-wife of Lee Majors.

Michael Jackson (singer/songwriter) -- Dead. Cardiac arrest. Died June 25, 2009. Born August 29, 1958. Wildly eccentric performer, youngest member of the Jackson 5, major pop icon of the '80s ("Thriller", "Billie Jean"), married briefly to Lisa Marie Presley, acquitted child molester.

Gale Storm (actress) -- Dead. Died June 27, 2009. Born April 5, 1922. My Little Margie, The Gale Storm Show; her autobiography was called I Ain't Down Yet.

Billy Mays (pitchman) -- Dead. Heart disease. Died June 28, 2009. Born July 20, 1958. The spokesguy for OrangeGlo, Oxiclean and dozens of other products, starred in cable's Pitchmen.

Harve Presnell (actor/singer) -- Dead. Pancreatic cancer. Died June 30, 2009. Born September 14, 1933. The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Jan Rubes (actor) -- Dead. Died June 30, 2009. Born June 6, 1920. The grandfather in Witness

Karl Malden (actor) -- Dead. Died July 1, 2009. Born March 22, 1912. On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Streets of San Francisco and many commercials for American Express.

Robert McNamara (secretary of defense, war criminal) -- . Died July 6, 2009. Born June 9, 1916. Secretary of Defense during the Viet Nam war, subject of A Fog of War.

Walter Cronkite (newscaster) -- Died July 17, 2009. Born November 4, 1916. Longtime CBS evening newscaster, worked on reporting the Kennedy assassination and the first moonlanding.

Frank McCourt (Writer/teacher) -- Dead. Meningitis. Died July 19, 2009. Born August 19, 1930. Angela's Ashes

Corazon Aquino (Former Phillipine president) -- Dead. Colon cancer. Died August 1, 2009. Born January 25, 1933. Became the first woman president of the Phillipines after the assassination of her husband, Benigno Aquino.

John Hughes (writer/director) -- Dead. Heart attack. Died August 6, 2009. Born February 18, 1950. Wrote/directed Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, retired from Hollywood youngish to be a farmer.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (philanthropist) -- Dead. Died August 11, 2009. Born July 10, 1921. Founded the Special Olympics, Maria Shriver's mother.

Les Paul (guitar legend/inventor) -- Dead. Died August 13, 2009. Born June 9, 1915. Invented the electric guitar, had a TV show in the '50s, performed into his 90s, inducted into multiple musical halls of fame.

Don Hewitt (TV news producer/director) -- Dead. Pancreatic cancer. Died August 19, 2009. Born December 14, 1922. Creator/producer of 60 Minutes, produced shows for Edward R. Murrow, director of the 1960 presidential debates, author of Tell Me a Story.

Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy (politician) -- Dead. Brain cancer. Died August 25, 2009. Born February 22, 1932. Last surviving Kennedy brother, served in the Senate for many years, often fighting for improved health care, ran for President, involved in a car accident that killed a volunteer in 1969.

Dominick Dunne (writer/celebrity watcher) -- Dead. Bladder cancer. Died August 26, 2009. Born October 29, 1925. Novelist (The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, A Murder in Connecticut) who became an obsessive trial-commentator after the murder of his daughter, Dominique, father of actor/director Griffin Dunne.

Ellie Greenwich (songwriter) -- Dead. Heart attack. Died August 26, 2009. Born October 23, 1940. With her ex-husband Jeff Barry, she co-wrote classic songs like "Leader of the Pack", "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Chapel of Love".

Sheila Lukins (chef/food writer) -- Dead. Brain cancer. Died August 30, 2009. Born circa 1942. Creator of The Silver Palate shop, a series of Silver Palate cookbooks (with Julee Ross

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (philanthropist) -- Dead. Died August 11, 2009. Born July 10, 1921. Founded the Special Olympics, Maria Shriver's mother. IMDb Obituary

Les Paul (guitar legend/inventor) -- Dead. Died August 13, 2009. Born June 9, 1915. Invented the electric guitar, had a TV show in the '50s, performed into his 90s, inducted into multiple musical halls of fame.
And in September 2009

Mary Travers, folk singer, war protestor. Part of the famous trio, Peter, Paul and Mary..

Henry Gibson, Comedian. Best know for his dirty old man on the wonderful entertainment show “Laugh In”.

Jody Powell, Press Secretary to President Carter. They met at a shopping center, Jody became his chauffeur when Carter was Governor, and went on to be the White House Press Secretary, a lobbyist and an all around great guy.

Patrick Swayze, Actor, dancer, delightful person. Best known for his roles in “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost”.

How sad to have lost so many superstars in so many different professions during the last six months. I will remember how they enriched my life and will hope that there is an afterlife in which they can continue to entertain one another.

The Infomercial Wins!

There are only two things that we saw on TV this week. One is an infomercial about the “Bullet Express” which prepares an entire meal in 30 seconds. The other is Barack Obama making his case about Health Care Reform, or as I prefer to call it, (because it really that’s what it is), Health Insurance Reform.

Many of the television pundits have declared that Obama is overexposed. That the President of the United States, making a television appearance, is supposed to be a big deal. But he has been seen on so many shows, saying pretty much the same thing (change is good), that people, even those who are interested in what is going to happen to them if “health anything” is reformed, have begun changing the channel.

This is not the case with the Bullet Express. Yes, it is hokey and yes, the guy who is selling the product is an abrasive Brit, (or maybe a Scot, he’s so abrasive it’s hard to listen). And yes, there are six or seven annoying people who have been invited for ‘dinner’ and are appalled when they arrive and there is nothing to eat – they don’t know what we know, that they will eat in 30 seconds or however long it takes to sell the product.

Nevertheless, for those of us who have busy lives but like to eat, we are interested in how the thing works. Who wouldn’t want a gourmet meal in 30 seconds. (No they don’t say it’s gourmet, but I had high hopes.

Anyway, the host of the infomercial explains and shows us, with simple clarity, exactly how the machine works. “Here’s some dough,” he says, “Let’s make a pizza. You all like pizza don’t you?” And the next thing you see is a smiling young woman patting the tummy of her over weight hubby (doesn’t she know that at that size, the last thing he needs is a high cholesterol meal?). Never mind, this blog is not about the meal, it’s about the way things are explained. It’s about the way you sell a product, an idea, or dare I say, health insurance reform.

What was really interesting was that, even after all that television time, his numbers never moved. His presentation didn’t work, even though hosts like George Stephanopoulis quoted Merriam’s dictionary and appeared silly in the give and take with the President.
I was thinking that maybe all that time making jokes with Letterman, and points with Schieffer, would have been better spent making phone calls to Congressmen and women. When Tip O’Neill, who was a successful Speaker of the House, wanted to get Congressional business done, he worked the phones. He started with the A’s and went all the way to the Z’s, until he got what he wanted. The reality of a bipartisan effort is that it’s never going to happen with this Congress, so the President and the Speaker need to work the phones. Some would call that old fashion politics. I would call it a more likely way to get done what you want to get done. And wasn’t the reason Rahm Emanuel was appointed Chief of Staff to the President was because he knew how to get “stuff” through Congress? After all my experience in Presidential politics and government, I just don’t get it.

So here’s what I would suggest. The President needs to watch the Bullet Express infomercial with his speech writers and senior staff. They need to take copious notes about how to get something done. There is a certain charm in grating a pound of mozzarella in 10 seconds. They all need to learn a lesson from the abrasive chief (those can be found in the White House) and his talent-free dinner guests (also no shortage of these on the White House staff). Then they need to toss all the notes they’ve been using in the circular file, rethink the way sell this very important change, and use the President’s time. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Seems Like Yesterday

I know I probably go on and on about certain things having to do with the passage of time in a way which, for someone whose life-work has been stopping time for an instant, must seem a bit like a broken record. (Editor's note: to those of you under 35 a "record" was a 12" vinyl [plastic] disc, with grooves on it, and when twirled on a 'turntable' and played with a 'needle,' would produce a sound roughly equivalent to the sound made when the plastic was cast. A "broken" record keeps playing the same noise, as the needle is unable to escape the a certain groove. Trust me on this one: it's annoying as hell.) Yes, time, no longer available in a bottle, just seems to fill the air around us rather like a mist which has been colored so as to be visible. Time gets into all the cracks and crevices. The corner of the sofa where all those old coins end up, the edge of a wooden drawer, the tines of your toothbrush. Time is unrelenting. In spite of really bad sit-coms, you should understand that time only moves one direction: forward, the same direction as the steam-roller which is about to flatten you -- so hop out off the way.

In the next couple of weeks, my new book "44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World" is going to be published by the Focalpoint division of National Geographic. It's quite exciting for me, really. In the era that finds magazine assignments drying up at an alarming rate (the scenario is something like this: internet steals advertising money from print media, magazines and newspapers in particular.. resources begin to dry up in magazine photo departments; economic downturn exacerbates the effects of this resource wipe out, causing many magazines to produce only a fraction of what they did even a year ago...) books and exhibitions, while a bit clunkier to produce and manage, provide a very different way to get the intent of those photographs -- to tell stories -- out to a viewing public. The fact that the photographs in the book were made 30 years ago (some, actually 36 years.. the Shah's visit to see President Nixon in 1973 was actually considered a "News" event) and have been cared for in that three decades, gives me great pride and pleasure. The toughest thing having to do with keeping a photos in an archive, is actually keeping them and maintaining them. It gives you the same appreciation that you might have seeing a library maintain its books for the public over a long period of time. It's very easy for things to disappear, fail to be returned from clients, to just fall behind a desk and remain there forever. So, when we (Contact Press Images) started to put it all together, it was satisfying beyond belief to see that the very nearly the entire archive was available and ready to go. So many of my friends, particularly those who worked for wire services (AP, UPI) over those same years, have virtually nothing of their own archives. Traditionally, the wire photo editor would look through a roll of film, mark the 'keepers', and cut one additional frame on the right and left of it, and often just toss the rest into the trash. Horrible to think about, particularly in light of the fact that what is important now on a roll of film, could very well be something which had no obvious meaning when it was shot, but was part of the photographer's vision.

The Digital Journalist, one of the longest running web'zines dealing with the press and photography, did a wonderful gallery in this month's issue. It includes a text I wrote to try and describe what it was like to produce the work, and eventually get it published at a time -- now -- when there are new rumblings in the streets of Tehran. In many ways it is not without irony, that many of the people in the streets I photographed 30 years ago, are now on the side of those who want to stifle dissent in those same streets. They may have outlawed demonstrations, but they cannot outlaw irony. The book is a collection of black-and-white (ode to Tri X!) and color (ode to Kodachrome!) and I'm very happy with the way it's turned out. (Shout out to Jeffrey, Jacques and Robert..) Available on Amazon and other fine stores... We'll be doing a number presentations on the east coast and (hopefully) the west coast, discussing the work, over the next couple of months. Check this site for book events... and remember. It not only seems like 30 years, it IS 30 years. Nearly half a lifetime. We're just sayin'... David

p.s. If you know any one at a Middle East Studies (for example) department at a great metropolitan university or other institution of higher learning, and think they might benefit with an evening of discussion on Iran.. please be in touch!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walking to School

Last week I wrote a blog about being “civil” and I said that Cong. Wilson behaved badly and additionally, was a racist or at least, he didn’t like the idea of a Black guy in charge of the nation so he felt entitled to call the President a liar regardless of venue. I received a number of comments about how that made me a racist. I maintain that being from the South doesn’t make anyone a racist, “some of my best friends are Southerners” – none of whom are racists – but all of whom think Wilson is. And so does Maureen Dowd (who wrote about it long after I did.)
And so do any number of other people who have been civil rights advocates. And yes, I am particularly sensitive to this because I have spent a lifetime trying to promote understanding for individual differences. Amen

Changing the subject—I hate to linger on things that are merely repetitive. There seems to be yet another major national question, with which all parents are struggling. At what age should you allow your children to walk to school. As far as I’m concerned, parents never want to let their children walk to school. And yes, I am using “walk to school” as a metaphor for life, but isn’t a creative metaphor what all of us, who think we can write, search for every time we sit at the computer. The point is that most parents try to protect their children for as long as they can. And when they no longer get to dictate what a grown child can do, they still worry about their safety. It’s an ongoing and relentless consequence of the decision to give birth. Having been the kind of parent who followed her children when they walked to school (an infrequent event), and having secretly followed my daughter when she took her first subway ride , I can honestly say, I would still follow them (just to make sure they look both ways when they cross the street), if I could be assured they would never find out.

And speaking of children, recently on the “West Wing” (to which I am addicted, even though I have already seen most of the shows twice), the President’s daughter was kidnapped, returned and in therapy. She was not crossing the street, she was in a nightclub surrounded by people. Yes, that’s only a TV show but kidnapping children is a full time profession for far too many scum bags. And then there is Annie Le, a Yale graduate student who was murdered at her Lab the week before her wedding. They have a suspect in custody – another student. Annie was not crossing the street.
Or Shapiro who was struck by Dr. Raymond Cook, an assistant professor at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill and a doctor at WakeMed Hospital. Elena was just driving along, maybe thinking about the kind of career upon which she was about to embark.

When you have children you automatically think you should be straining the air with chicken soup, so they don’t get a cold. You want them to be healthy, safe, secure, and wise about they way they face the world. You cannot be with them 24/7 so mostly you hope for the best. Walking them to school until they are 23 may be the answer to the question about when they should walk alone, or it might be 5 or 8 or 10.
There was a time when this wasn’t even a question because, unless you lived in a city, you were expected to get yourself to school by the time you were in first grade. Maybe, in retrospect, I am imagining things were gentler than they were. Maybe, as a consequence of the immediacy of the media, we are able to hear about more horrors more quickly. And just maybe, we have become a nation where, because there is no such thing as safety, (or civility), we can no longer let our children “walk to school” at all. We’re just sayin’….Iris

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Never to be Forgotten

The contractor had just broken through the wall, and two small bedrooms were about to become one gracious space. We were trying to create the perfect room for a child who had a million friends, was incredibly social, but had no play space that could accommodate a large group of kids yearning to be free from parental oversight. There was a great deal of banging and knocking which I tried to escape by sitting downstairs in the kitchen, in front of the TV.

It was a peaceful, beautiful day and I was torn between looking out at the garden and watching some insipid segment on the “Today Show.” I’m not sure what drew my full attention to the TV. Maybe it was Katie, clearly upset, switching from the studio to a shot of a plane flying into the World Trade Center. I watched it replayed again and again. As is oft the case, the networks think more is better. And while I usually find this incredibly boring, in this case I was horrified and, at the same time, fascinated by what I was seeing. It was like a movie. And I remember thinking that it had to be a hideous accident.

But then the second plane flew into the other tower. It was so frightening that I ran upstairs to the contractors, yelling about what I had seen on TV and insisting that they come and look at what was happening. For whatever reason, I needed confirmation.

Two of them came downstairs. I could have turned the TV on upstairs, but it was like the event was only happening in the kitchen. We all watched the first plane and then the second fly into the Towers – over and over and over. And then we heard what sounded like an explosion followed almost immediately by sirens and the contractors cell phone. He answered it, seemed a little shaken by what was being said, and hung up. “It was my son”, he said. “He’s an Arlington fireman and he’s on his way to the Pentagon. Another plane just flew into the Pentagon. He’s going to call back when he knows something.”

We all continued to watch the coverage and still couldn’t believe what we were seeing. After about two hours of gruesome photos and reporting, I remembered that my dear friend Sidney worked at Battery Park, which was right next to the Towers. It wasn’t easy to get a call through to New York. But I was relentless and she finally answered her phone – at home.

“Are you OK?” I asked stupidly because of course she wasn’t OK. Among other things, she was exhausted from having walked from Battery Park on the West side to her apartment in the East sixties. “You cannot believe what it was like,” she said. “I was on my way to work and stopped for some coffee. There was a wall of windows and when I started out the door, the sky got black. It was blacker than night. Then a police officer came running in and said it was too dangerous for us to stay there, and we needed to get out of the area. We all walked outside into what turned out to be ash and metal and God knows what else was in the air. And when I looked up there were people falling out of the windows. Maybe not falling, maybe throwing themselves out the windows. It was something I will never forget. The officer moved us to another building but I just wanted to get out of there. I just wanted to make sure Howard (her husband) was OK so I left and walked across town. I had to walk. There were no cabs, no subway, no cars, nothing. I just kept walking.”

There was nothing I could say to console her. We exchanged endearments and hung up. I sat back down in front of the TV. By that time, another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. There were reports that this plane was aimed at the Capital or the White House. There were other people in NY I tried to reach to make sure they were OK, but by that time it was impossible to get a call through.

At about 4:30 Jordan came home from school. There was an Arlington County decision that all the kids would be kept in school until it was certain that they would be safe outdoors. People forget the Pentagon is in Arlington. Eight years ago today, we drove over to the Pentagon (there is a road that runs right by where the plane crashed). We pulled over and joined hundreds of other people just staring in disbelief, at the giant hole in this historic building.

There are those events, like the first walk on the moon, the Kennedy and King assassinations, or the election of the first Black President, about which we will remember every detail. And, one about which, I will try never to forget. We’re just sayin’..Iris

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Ain't Got No Civil

You may have heard that the President of the United States addressed a joint session of Congress yesterday. You may also have heard that the Congressman from South Carolina (and it wasn’t Jesse Helms, may he rest in peace as long as he rests no where near me), called him a liar and then apologized by saying "This evening I let my emotions get the best of me. While I disagree with the President's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility." The Congressman, Joe Wilson, (not related to the great Senator Charlie Wilson), and whose legal name is, Addison Graves Wilson, Sr.-- lost me right after “the best in me”, because clearly, there is no best in him. In addition, and only because it is so offensive, if I didn’t know better I would say this “good old boy” is more than likely a racist and he didn’t feel like he needed to respect the Black guy, regardless of position.

What has happened to civility and decorum in the Congress. Or for that matter, in the world today. David says we don’t know how to be civil because civics is no longer taught in school. But I disagree. I think it’s because bad behavior has become acceptable, almost everywhere in this country including the forums where our elected officials gather to have bipartisan discourse. And, not surprisingly, just like there is no civility, there is also no bipartisanship anymore. There seems not to be any “let’s make it work for the good of the country.” Nope, there is only, “Let’s defeat anything the President wants to do for the benefit of the Republican party.”

Back to being civil. People no longer speak in hushed tones in a movie or the theater. They put their cell phones on vibrate and if they get a call during a performance, they answer and carry on a conversation – who cares that it may interfere with their neighbors enjoyment of a performance. Parents no longer insist that their children have good manners. The children are entitled to act any way they want, regardless of venue. So kiss an expensive meal in a nice restaurant goodbye if you happen to be sitting next to a six year old – who will not sit at any table for longer than a minute. Drivers don’t yield the right of way. They feel wherever they are, the right of way is theirs. Television shows promote the worst of human nature on hour after hour of reality show. There is a lack of respect for life, or at least consequences, which is why there are magnetometers at elementary schools. Children bring knives and guns and all kinds of weapons to school. And forget giving up a seat to an elderly person on the subway or a bus.

None of this may have anything to do with Joe Wilson’s unacceptable behavior last night, or maybe it did. An elected federal official does not just blurt at a joint session of Congress. They may not stand, or cheer, or agree, and they may snicker or smirk, but they don’t shout out things like “You lie,” in the middle of a Presidential speech. So what am I saying? Addison Graves Wilson Sr. made a calculated decision to disrupt the President’s speech. Addison didn’t want people to listen intently to what the President had to say. The interruption was not emotional, it was intentional. Addison didn’t want the headline to be “Obama Makes Sense”. He wanted people to hear that the President was a liar – at prime time.

There is no question that there was a need for the White House to be clearer and more forthcoming about their plans for “health insurance reform” – which the President finally did last night. And maybe it wasn’t all we wanted it to be, but it was certainly more on target than what has been said in the past. I’d say, a good start and some movement in the right direction. Positive constructive conversation is always preferable to shouting and disruption, unless your motive is just to interrupt or choreograph a scenario where you imply that the President of the United States is so devious that he will not tell the truth. Regardless of venue or audience.

There is no way that Addison’s Mama didn’t insist on civility. And I know that’s a double negative, but there is still no way. And if his Mama had been in the Capital last night she would have smacked him soundly on his Southern Republican bottom. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Photo Guy In a Middle Seat

I’m sitting in a middle seat in coach, that place in hell which Dante, had he been obliged to regularly shuffle between Florence and New York, would have instantly recognized as a sort of flying version of Limbo (Hell is any seat on a small sailboat in the ocean, out of site of land.) On my left is a member of the band Blue Oyster Cult, heading home from a gig in Amsterdam and whose arm seems not to see the imaginary dividing line between our seats, on my right a winsome lady from Hamburg in the fashion trade. I wasn’t even supposed to be on this plane but for reasons known only to the master computers at Air France, I was “liste d’attente” for the flight home to Newark. That morphed into an actual seat (said 22K) to JFK at about the same time, and though I waited until literally the last two minutes before the door was closed on this 777, nothing on the aisle or in Business opened up. I know the ticket agents were on my side: two extremely helpful and hopeful Air France agents kept monitoring the list of available seats, especially the small group of travelers from Rome who were at risk of missing all the New York bound flights due to a late arrival in Paris. In what ought to be the Senior Thesis of some Management Consultant, I noted for the first time ever (as someone usually boarding earlier than later, I seldom am around at the check in gate this long) that presumptively illogical socio trend that the very last people to board international flights are the coolest and calmest of all. Without missing a beat, each of the last dozen check-ins, with literally 3 to 4 minutes to go, were cool as a cucumber, walking with intent but nothing that would be considered even a brisk step. It was as if each of them (and they were all in Economy!) felt it was their personal airplane, one which would only leave upon their actual placing of tuchas in a seat. The frantic and excited ones were those who had been trying to board early, looking more like escaped convicts trying to go unnoticed in a small town after a well publicized jail break. Looking around every direction, looking at their boarding passes (how much is there you can learn from it?) looking at their cell phones, glancing back at the departure announcements. They are surely the ones, if you were a Freudian master of airline security, who you would think had something to hide.
A street corner in Perpignan
So we actually will make it to New York now, and in light of the ‘compression pants’ I’m wearing (full length black stretchies that look like bikers pants but go to your ankles) I’m even hopeful that my legs won’t puff up like they often do, like cantaloupes, on such long flights. I keep doing those isometric exercises – point and flex and point and flex – but I ll only know once I’m home and can disrobe. Travelling does takes it toll, though no doubt those rampages are less felt in more stretched out locations – Business and First to name two that immediately come to mind. But I guess I’ll live.
Derek Hudson armed with Tri-x: Stand back!!
Callie Shell's show on Obama in the big church
The small but dedicated crowd who came to walk through my "44 Days" show
Annie Boulat and Jerome Delay celebrating 30 years of Cosmos
the opening panel for my 44 Days show
The reason for my trip in the first place was to attend the Visa Pour l’Image in Perpignan, the 21st version of the festival of photojournalism which takes place in this Pyrenees/Mediterranen town every September. It’s really the perfect place for such an event. Aside from one trip to the beach for a seaside buffet lunch on Saturday, I didn’t’set foot in a vehicle for 5 days. While the windy narrow streets take several days to become confidently comfy with, not one of the exhibitions, and there are some 40 of them, is more than a ten minute walk from any other. The venues are uniformly fetching: former convents, centuries old chapels, and assorted other larger spaces which once no doubt housed either wealthy merchants, or a large contingent of their horses. The pictures are usually 16x20 or 20x24, hung very elegantly, and beckon the viewing public to spend time on a slow traipse to see the work. (My expo, taken from my soon to be published book “44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World” was in a beautiful little chapel. I felt it a rather ecumenical experience: the Jewish kid from Utah photographs a Shia Islam Revolution, and has a show in a Catholic Chapel in France. Hard to beat that !) The exhibitors are equally divided between the well known (ahem!) and the newly discovered, though virtually all of us are experiencing the same malaise in our business.
the 2am schmoozefest
another red building in Perpignan-they're everywhere
lunch at a farm outside the city (the only time youre in a car!)
a 1am encounter with old friend and colleague Henri Bureau (Sygma) who was one of the greats-now a country farmer
a guestbook entry at the 44 Days show
The shows continue to remind one of the power of photography to tell stories, to emote, inform and sometimes frighten. But the naggingly overriding theme for this year, aside from the work itself, was the ongoing sickness in the publishing industry, and its fallout on those who have for decades traditionally funded their work (and their rent) by payments and assignments from magazines. With the additional market slide of ad revenue in the general interest magazine world, budgets for photography (and writing as well) have plummeted. There are no longer huge sources of money available to spend on photographers chasing their visual dreams (whether they be unspeakable acts in Congo, or pursuing candidates for the White House.) In the end, hundreds of photographers and editors gather in a week long celebration of photojournalism, though this year is was more like the gathering one might attend for a very much loved recently departed uncle who draws the family together at his passing. We don’t yet know for sure that, as some optimists claim “ things are coming back!” anytime soon. I, for one, don’t really see that rebound. Once downsized, a department is loathe to immediately reinflate itself. In parallels to historical moments like the buggy whip makers who thought there would always be buggies (the horseless carriage didn’t need that whip) or railroads (who didn’t understand they were in the transport business, not the railroad business) we, the storytellers find ourselves wondering what will be the next platforms for telling stories. The internet is the obvious answer, and all its possible varieties: Facebook, Kindle, LinkedIN, all of which are making millions for their inventors, yet don’t really answer the question: how will we find ways for viewers, ultimately, to pay for and support the producers of the work? Ay, there’s the rub. My personal choice for Jolting Social Engagement would seem something like the following: (and this is of course based on that curious concept that everything on the web is FREE, except porn and the Wall Street Journal.)

Sometime in September, the colorless and basically ineffective United Nations Secretary General (a Starbucks Iced Coffee if you can name him! Oops, too late) Ban Ki Moon, would announce in a few weeks at the opening of the annual General Assembly meeting that as of the following Tuesday, all news reported on the net by firsthand sources (those who are picked to death by bloggers and aggregators) would begin charging for their product. Not huge amounts, please --- for example the New York Times would charge you ten or twelve bucks a month, something you could easily live with –so that it wouldn’t completely shock the public into abandoning its need for information and reporting. But if everyone did it at the same time (a critical point) we would all have to figure out what was important to us, and end up supporting the beast that way. I don’t really think there is a desire to remain ignorant in society, just a preference (and who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another) for that which is given to you gratis. I am hopeful that at some point in the not too distant future there will be a way for viewers to actually support the people whose work they view and admire. It would make sense, even though we’ll probably never be back to where we were five or ten years ago. The wheel turns, and now its time for that wheel to turn in our direction.
the bus station in Paris/Invalides
a Paris moment, from the airport bus
Every evening there is a projection, a combination of topical themes, and often, additional work which compliments an expo that is already on display. A series of awards are also sprinkled throughout the week. Hundreds gather in a large amphitheater-like space, and four blocks away, a few thousand more in a large café covered square, to watch the proceedings over a glass of rosé. Later on, well into the night in Perpignan, we’d gather in one of several locales where wine and beer flow freely, and discuss not only the annoying bits (you know, getting paid, that sort of thing) but the more elemental aspects of the business. Having been a photographer for 42 years, I have collected a large retinue of pals, some of whom are very outspoken about what they like and what they loathe. And true it is that we all try and find, in our work, some kind of personal look or style which not only adds to the visual power of the pictures, but helps us find an audience which is inclined to adore us. The lines of acceptability are ever thinning: and Friday night, with two English friends, I was subjected to a bashing of the current trend and habit of camera tilt as a way of engaging the viewer. There are a number of photographers now who for one reason or another seem to have lost their gyroscopes – or at the very least, their bubble levels. Every picture looks like it could have been shot from a small dinghy, one which is pitching side to side in a force five gale, and forcing the photographer to shoot pictures without anything resembling a flat horizon line. I know I’m old fashioned but I had to agree with this one. And its not as if now and then, in some kind of visually desperate moment you took a picture, the perspective of which was to plunge towards the subject, but when it becomes the norm, and standard, then we have definitely traded the idea of using the elemental empathetic power of the photograph for something more studied and in the end, not only more stylized but perhaps more suspect. In a world with too many photographers, a personal look or style is something you need to emerge from the pack. I suppose there is room for all kinds of taste, and maybe I’m being harsh. We live in a very different world from the world of the Iran Revolution (shooting film, shipping film out of the country with passengers, never knowing for days whether or not you actually had a picture) to, 30 years later, the post election unrest of this summer (pictures shot with cell phones or point&shoot cameras, popped into laptops, and sent within minutes all over the world via the internet.) That which was the craft of shooting, when you actually had to remember to focus, expose properly, and rewind your film before shipping it – has pretty much gone by the wayside. The advances have let many people into the world of photography who might not have had much of a career in the old days. But the future is not going away, and the immediacy of transmission is a fact of life. (When typing up captions on a digital job where others were present, who doesn’t just copy the information from a Yahoo News picture… same faces, same order, same situation.. its already OUT there.) Going forward I hope there is at least the smallest regard for what it is that professional photographers do; everyone owns a camera these days, and pretty much, everyone is a photographer. And were it only so that “the picture never lies……”
getting connected is never as easy as they say
as always, click on a picture to see full size

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sad News From Times Square

Sad News. The Naked Cowboy has dropped out of the Mayoral race in NY. There were too many requirements and the Board of Elections doesn’t have a sense of humor. In case you have never seen “Naked”, you can usually find him in Times Square and you will know who he is because, while not totally naked, (he wears undies, a guitar, and a cowboy hat), he is almost without clothing. Robert, that is his actual name, does have a degree in Political Science and is quite intelligent. Let’s face it, you have to be intelligent to actually make $100 – 250 thousand dollars, standing in Times Square as a Naked Cowboy.

It’s too bad that he didn’t have real campaign people working with the bureaucracy because the best campaigns are always those that are spontaneous and have a sense of humor. To be more specific, the best campaigns are always those where the people running the campaign have a sense of humor. And sometimes, it’s much better when the Candidate is not involved – even better if the candidate doesn’t know they are the candidate.

For example, the best campaign I ever worked on was a Presidential campaign for the former CEO of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca. After Lee saved Chrysler from total disaster (where is he when we need him), he became a kind of American folk hero – especially in areas where there were Chrysler factories or dealers. It turned out that when we look for Presidential qualities, being a folk hero or being an inspirational speaker are two good ones. But Lee Iacocca didn’t want to be President. And again, that was just fine because it turns out that as long as you don’t want to be President, and you are not involved in any campaign which promotes your candidacy, people who want you to be President can craft a Presidential campaign and do whatever they want to do.

Anyway, a group of us decided that Lee would be a perfect candidate and we would start an “Iacocca for President” campaign. There were only four or five senior staff. (There was no junior staff). A press secretary, two fundraisers, a policy wonk -- and the campaign manager was whoever had an idea that was visual and would get press attention. We created a number of fundraising and press events and we raised about $50,000 – which we used to entertain ourselves and the press. And maybe we bought placards and stationary – but maybe not.

We were having a great old time until the first call came from Detroit. It was someone in Iacocca’s office informing us that Lee did not want to be President and we needed to “cease and desist”. We said we would not, because to be honest (you know how I feel about being honest), we were simply having too much fun.

The campaign persisted for weeks but since we “Senior Staffers” could not dedicate ourselves full time, the staff meetings were infrequent. So, when the next call came from Detroit, there was no one available to respond. They thought we were trying to avoid a confrontation but we just didn’t have anyone on the campaign phone. And I guess they decided that we were not going to respond to any requests they made, unless the requests were made in person.

Two thugs arrived at our campaign headquarters, which also happened to be the lobbying firm of a member of the Iacocca Senior Staff. When he saw these guys he put out a call and we all left our jobs and miraculously appeared to meet with the thugs.

It wasn’t pretty. They threatened and we cajoled. They screamed and we guffawed. They said they would take serious measures to stop us, and we figured they would put out a hit on us. It wasn’t going to be fun anymore so we agreed that we would quit but we would have to have a press conference to explain the situation – and we had money left in our entertainment budget that we thought we would invest with the political press in case we were ever working on a real campaign and needed some coverage.

It was a most wonderful experience and, in fact, we did make good press contacts, had substantial fun, re-learned all the rules and regulations for a Presidential campaign, and realized that politics without humor is like a ship without water—or some better analogy. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Aces of My Life

When my son was a little boy he had a guinea pig named “Ace”. She was a cute little thing and he loved her. Ace was around for quite sometime and he never got tired of her running around on the little wheel or romping in her cage. Children do get attached to their pets, and if they are in charge of the care and feeding, they usually develop a real sense of responsibility. He did that and took very good care of her.

Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. For example, my daughter,. wanting to be just like the stories I told her about her brother, wanted a pet. Rather than experiment on a dog, cat, or parakeet (I had a parakeet -- Tweety--how original), when I was a kid that , at his insistence lived in my brother's room. It had a nervous breakdown. When we took it back, the pet store owner said he had never seen anything like it. In addition to Tweety I had several puppies, but my mother always gave them away before I got attached.

Anyway, my daughter named her fish Ace. Unfortunately the fish died in its little glass bowl before we got it home. I truly didn’t know what to do, but I thought the truth was the best route. We took the fish to her room and I said, “Honey, your fish has died and gone to heaven and we probably should bury it in the garden.”

“Why Mom?”,she said, “fish don’t really do anything, so let’s let it float around for a while”. When it started to decompose, I flushed it.

This week has been a week of unusual ‘Aces’ and unusual pets, which made me think about my kids and their pets. (My daughter has two kittens, my son a cat.) First of all, we were traveling to Salt Lake City for the wedding of a daughter of dear friends. When David called around about renting a car, all the recognizable places were so expensive that they cost more than our airline tickets. But David is good at travel and, after many hours of research, he found a place called ‘Ace Rental”, which was not exactly on the airport grounds, but at least it wasn’t halfway back to Virginia. The car was bright red. When I say bright, I mean we could almost see it from the airport -- miles away. There was certainly no question about losing it in a parking lot.
Frankie snuggling in the underwear drawer
When we were on our way to our friends, (Rick and Janice), Janice called to advise us to be careful when we opened the front door because Frankie might be out of his cage. And if Frankie saw an opportunity to escape, he wouldn’t miss it. And if he escaped, we would have to chase him until we caught him because he was not capable of finding his way home. Frankie is the ferret they inherited when their daughter moved to an apartment that didn’t allow pets. Now, I’m not crazy about wild animals, but Frankie was hard to resist. In the morning he would come scratching on our closed bedroom door. When we tried to ignore him, he pushed against the door until it opened and dove directly into David’s suitcase. We would rifle through the clothes, find him and put him out the door. But he was not to be denied, and returned to scratching almost immediately. I suggested that we call our host upstairs and tell him we were under attack. But it was highly entertaining, rather than annoying. Frankie just had a charm that, if you haven’t ever been intimate with a wild animal, is difficult to explain.

I know, that Frankie had nothing to do with the Aces, but it did have to do with getting attached to pets-which is a stretch but only a little one. Moving on. When we were making arrangements to get picked up at Newark, we had to find a limo service that would take us to Boonton NJ, where we had parked our car. And wouldn’t you know it, we found a service called, Ace limo. It was just too coincidental to ignore. We called Ace and tried to negotiate a price. (The price they quoted for a 20 minute ride was more than the air tickets and the rental car combined.) We thought that our luck was pretty good when we stuck to the Ace theme, but they wouldn’t budge on the cost. And, despite our desire to stick with all the Aces we could, it was simply too expensive.
Frankie surfing on a beach towel
I’m sure at this point you must be asking yourself, what the heck is the point she is trying to make? And to be fair to the readers, ,there doesn’t always have to be a point. Sometimes, I just feel like writing about special relationships, nice memories and having a few laughs. I assume we're all pretty tired of health care. If you hear that scratching at your bedroom door, go ahead and open it. It’s probably an Ace in waiting. We’re just sayin’… Iris