Friday, February 26, 2010

Costco -For the Decider?

Yesterday, I was yearning for a roast chicken, and in need of some medication so I decided to go to the Costco on E. 116th Street. On the subway map it looks quite simple. Take the train to 116, walk four blocks and like magic – warehouse heaven. And it was simple but I forgot to plan for what to do once the shopping was over and my bag (I remembered to bring a solid, big, carry satchel) was full. You cannot go to Costco and not find things you need desperately, like 300 AA batteries and Acai juice.

Anyway the bag was heavy and no one volunteered to schlep for me, so what to do. Well, because I have amazing leadership qualities I decided to take a bus to the subway and then walk the two blocks (which I figured could be handled) back to the apartment.

Speaking of leadership, am I too late to talk about the vacuum in leadership – everywhere? The reason for this is that it’s easier to follow than to lead. But following has never been comfortable for me. The minute someone tells me what to do it is inevitable that I won’t do t. And if I do, I won’t do it the way I’m told to do it. [Editor's Note: Do NOT tell Iris to "have a nice day!"] That’s just bratty, right? But bratty or other wise I have always preferred to be the beacon of light that guides the sailors to the shore – rather than be the rocks or the sand. (I have no idea what that means but go with it for a while.)

When I was thirteen I learned that if you look like you know where you are walking people will follow you. You don’t have to know anything, you just have to look confident about not being clueless. This quality is especially important in politics because no one has any idea about where they are going or what they are doing, so it’s easy to emerge as a genius just by looking like you know what you are doing.

My point is, it’s not hard to lead if you have some courage, maybe a little chutzpah, and the ability to make a decision. The problem is, Presidents are notorious for indecision. Maybe it’s because deciding has often led the country into war or other calamity. Maybe it’s because bad decisions lead to one term Administrations. And maybe it’s because making a decision that impacts the world, is just too damn dangerous and the consequences for a mistake can be monstrous. But not making a decision is, what I call, the passive aggressive way to decide. For example, if you determine that there is a need for a change, but you don’t decide how the changes will be made, changes still get made, but not by you, and not necessarily the changes you want.

It can work both ways – not deciding and always deciding, some call this micromanaging or being a control freak. Jimmy Carter was not a popular President because he wanted to make decisions about everything from, who played on the White House tennis court, to where to hold the Salt II talks. But he did one thing that was incredibly courageous. He made a commitment to human rights -- very good. But in his mind that meant we couldn’t go the Olympics because the Soviet Union was behaving horribly (they “invaded Afghanistan”...sound familiar?) – very bad. There clearly needs to be a middle ground somewhere between these two opposite ends of the continuum. But that is also difficult.

The media is talking about the vacuum in leadership by President Obama. As we used to say, in the years when dinosaurs were king, Duh! There isn’t an issue that he has dealt with successfully, or at least that is what it seems—and perception IS reality. Part of the problem is that because they were afraid to alienate anyone (like Ronald Reagan Democrats) there seemed to be nothing decisive in their policy referendums. Even “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” remains unresolved – and how stupid is that. The sad thing is that you can’t teach someone to be a leader – it is either who you are, or it’s not. And you can’t teach courage – you either have it or you don’t. So what do we do? I don’t know, maybe an outing to Costco is the answer. We’re just sayin’.... Iris

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GXR test frames..

It breaks in two... and then, amazingly becomes a CAMERA when you slide the parts back together...

this amazing little camera.. the new modular Ricoh GXR... comes with two basic parts.. the lens&sensor, and the viewfinder/battery/storage.. Cool idea.. and as the lenses expand, which i hope they do.. all kinds of cool things could happen with this system. I am trying to find a shoot (maybe tomorrow, Mr Toyota?) where I could use only this camera and a Speed Graphic. I think we re on the edge of a new paradigm (of course it could happen that I would be fully prepared to miss all pictures with a "variety" of gear... ) are a couple of 3200 asa frames.. larger to see.. i was shocked, what can i say..
this was shot at some reasonable ASA....
I sort of hate to see all this techno stuff becoming so ubiquitous.. (the sound of an old farts voice:) "i remember when there was CRAFT to taking pictures...." not that I was very good at it.. but at least i REMEMBER it...
this was shot at ASA 200

these two were shot by a glass door.. (big window light..) f2.5 at 1/1250 i think (im sure its in the metadata..)
click on the pictures to see them BIG

Monday, February 22, 2010

Entitled, Enschmitled

My mother would say, “Entitled, Enshmitled.” Then she would do a face that I can’t explain because it would be somewhere between disgust and annoyance. Your mother probably used the same face when she lost patience with some of your behavior.

John Edwards felt entitled, Bill Clinton felt entitled, Tiger Woods felt entitled, and their kind of entitlement targeted women. It may be entitlement but it is also a serious lack of respect for women – and the role that women play in their lives seems a bit confused.

It is easy to write about male sexual misadventures because there are so many examples. But that’s only one type of entitlement that seriously ticks me off. In the genre of our “sit down and shut up” blob, this is my “What ever happened to ‘excuse me’?” You may not know what I mean so I’ll explain. When I am walking down the street, occasionally minding my own business, there are often people walking next to me or coming toward me. This is no surprise, since if you are walking on the sidewalk there are usually people. The surprise is that too often, those other people would just as soon knock you over as step a little to the side. In some instances they are young and not paying much attention. But lately, there are too many times when they think they are entitled to take up all the space they can, including yours. The same applies to staircases. They do not care if you are coming the other way –they simply will not move over. And when they knock you into the wall, or into the street, they will never say excuse me.

Allow me to give you just a few examples, starting this morning. The sun was shining when I walked out of the building. I tripped lightly down the front stairs and on to the sidewalk. There were a group of teenagers coming toward me so I stopped and moved to the side to let them pass. But they didn’t pass. I’m not a big girl but certainly I am big enough to be seen. It was as if I didn’t exist. They simply plowed right into me. They hit me so hard, they knocked me into the wall and never even acknowledged that they had done so. Nothing, nada, no apology or even a glance back.

A bit shaken but still in a good mood I proceeded down the street to my fitness club. As I walked up to the welcome area some guy, clearly in a hurry to get fit, pushed in front of me so he could give the greeters his pass card before I did. I mean, I was standing there and he stepped in front of me, like if he got there first he would get some kind of a prize. Never mind, I just waited there until he finished – and then the greeter caught my eye and we just shook our head and laughed. I hadn’t realized that he was entitled to be first.

After that less than friendly encounter I got into my work-out wear and went to find an elliptical cardio machine. There are about 10 TV’s you can watch and depending on which machine you choose, you can often pick your own station. Today, 4 TV’s in the same area were playing some ridiculous Mel Gibson movie. I asked the people immediately in front of the TV if, since 4 of them were playing the same program, I could change one. Apparently I couldn’t because they were all entitled to watch the same show on the TV they liked best. So I listened to a book on tape.

A bit discouraged about humankind, but still hopeful, I heated in the steam room, cooled off in a nice shower, wrapped myself in towels and walked back to my locker. There are 6 areas with lockers with one bench in each area. It is possible for three or four people to dress in one area, if they are a little respectful about how much space they use for personal belongings. In my cubby, one woman covered the one bench with her wet towel and gym bag. This left absolutely no room for anyone else. But she didn’t care, she was clearly entitled to take up all the space that existed for anyone who needed to use it.

My oh my, where did all the manners go? My hope is that all the people who are well described by “Sit down and shut up” or “excuse me”, will grow up, grow smart or just grow. We’re just sayin..Iris

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Lord Giveth....

“The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away.” That’s how we described the snow removal in DC when I first lived in the District. What it meant was that we would see the roads and maybe our cars sometime in the Spring. Maybe Adrian Fenty is too young to remember that blizzard in the early 80’s, but it cost Marian Barry his job as Mayor. It wasn’t all because he was in LA having a great old time during the storm and maybe people were just tired of the same old politics, but for a combination of reasons he was outta there.

The Nation’s Capital remains paralyzed by this storm of all storms. – which happened well over a week ago. The Government and all the businesses closed. The snow remained where it fell, schools shut down and nobody went anywhere. That should have been the good news because it should have given the sanitation department the opportunity to use those plows attached to the trash trucks. But the only good news was that with the Government shut down, they couldn’t create any new problems with which the rest of the country would have to deal. The bad news was that despite the fact people stayed home, there was no snow removal. I choose my words quite carefully. The key in that sentence is removal.
Congressional Parking #1
Stacked up snow in the Congressional Lot - foto by Iris Burnett
There were plows that appeared intermittently and pushed the snow around, rather than taking it away – like into the Potomac or some dump. But they left piles of snow in the middle of streets and blocking entrances and exits. Yesterday we had appointments on the Hill and even the parking for Congress people was limited and almost non-existent. The plows did manage to tear up the lots and leave big gaping holes, which didn’t help in terms of available space. There is almost no place in the city where you can fit two lanes of traffic, including a good portion of Capital Hill.

And the suburbs are not much better. The plows took one turn down each street and managed to clear some of the middle but blocked every driveway and sidewalk on the street. The inability for communties to provide services was disgraceful – and the only thing people could do was dig one another out of their own neighborhoods. (People 1, Government at all Levels 0.) But that’s the suburbs where people have cross-country skies and can remain somewhat good humored until they had to go back to work. – which happened yesterday. There are still schools closed for no reason other than the buses are plowed in (“so plow them out!” my mother would say.) But the city is still pretty much at a standstill—this time there are cars on the street but everything is standing still. Four lane roads are 2 and a half. Two lane roads are barely one.

What I don’t understand, and have never understood, is why DC and the surrounding areas are unprepared for the snow. It snows in these mid-Atlantic states. It snows every year and sometimes a great deal. How do they not budget for the weather? I get that it’s hard to prepare for a surprise attack or a hurricane, but snow flakes? What I also don’t understand (obviously there are many things) is why, when the streets were empty of people and cars, the snow wasn’t taken away—not just pushed over a little.
Snow which was not dumped into the Potomac
The Mayor was on TV the other night talking about the fact the there was no money for this dreaded event. He lives close to work so what does he care. If there is no money in the Capitol coffers, call out the National Guard. We haven’t sent them all to Iraq and Afghanistan have we? It is the Nation’s Capital. We pay for the Government to work. What could possibly be the misconnect between snow fall and snow remove?

The Spring will come and maybe the snow will melt in the next few weeks, but what an embarrassing predicament this has become. Grab your shovel and come on down. I won’t be there but those elected officials could all use some help….and I mean that in the nicest possible way. We’re just sayin’... Iris

P.S. And if shoveling and plowing fails, grab lunch from the Greek Deli (19th & L n.w. in downtown D.C.) and just have a great bite while you watch the snow melt.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saying Gung Hey Fat Choi

My introduction to Chinese/Asian New Year, was through my friends Dick and Germaine Swanson who owned a pan Asian restaurant called Germaine’s at the top of Georgetown. These were in the years before Congressmen were resigning because they (as Evan Bayh said) “don’t like Congress anymore.” We had spent that Sunday watching a quaint little football game (the Super Bowl) – eating our way through the afternoon, and into the evening, when someone reminded us that we were expected to go to Germaine’s for a New Years celebration. And if you were expected, there were no acceptable excuses. Despite the fact that I carried a Diplomatic passport, any New Year other than December 31st was a mystery.
Mark's on Chinese New Year (lunch)
We had eaten what amounted to about 2 and a half dinners, hours before we went to Germaine’s. I figured Chinese New Year, like any other New Year, was about having a few drinks and wishing all our friends well. The fact that we were going to eat yet another big dinner, admittedly, came a surprise. It never occurred to me that Chinese New Year would be a unique New Year experience. Like most New Year parties, this one started quite late – but not because you had to be anywhere at midnight. In fact, the only thing that was required was that you come with a big appetite. As I said, we we unprepared for another big sit down but thanks to the faithful bartender we discovered some good news: that it is amazing what a little tonic water, bitters and lime can accomplish to refresh and rejuvenate a little tummy.

And when the world’s largest platter of fried rice arrived, we ate until we couldn’t move, and then we ate some more – Germaine is quite the chef.
the Year of the Tiger
Over the years my fondness for this multi-named holiday has grown. Some of my favorite (once a year) activities, include going to China Town and searching for the perfect New Year Envelope – in which you put a fresh crinkley new dollar bill (or whatever amount you want), and then present it (using both hands) to the person upon which you are bestowing New Year wishes. Some of this years envelopes (the Year of the Tiger) say “Peace”, others say “good health”, many say “prosperity”. All of them express good wishes about something.

And so once a year we go to “Mark’s Duck House”, our favorite Chinese restaurant for both regular food (Peking Duck, noodles galore and Dim Sum on carts on weekends), and I give all the wonderful young women who push the carts, as well as the administrative staff who supervise, a gorgeous red envelope with wishes for much happiness. It is so much fun. They get very excited because even though I do it once a year, they are always surprised by my thoughtfulness and respect for their celebration. In returns, they bring us the freshest of food and more importantly, tell me how thin, young and fabulous I look. Is that not worth the $15 or $20 I put in all the envelopes? The answer is yes.

And in my dotage, I am still learning ‘stuff’. Here is what I discovered about New Year celebrations. They are always a happy time mixed with some melancholy memories. There is always an emphasis on good food and special dishes that are only prepared on this occasion. In all cultures there is an emphasis on celebrating with family and friends. It is a time of year when people not only talk about how they will change the future, they also reflect on events of the past. In addition, while some folks feel like the New Year is just another holiday that makes people who are alone feel bad, I think there is no bad news about the holiday. It marks the passing of a time which, good or bad, is over. The slate is clean so whatever you want to do, you can do it without the baggage of the old year.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Not a chance. Everything that happens to us in one year should be a lesson learned and not forgot – but the people who have made a difference in your life should remain a part of who you want to be every new year. We’re just sayin’... Iris

Monday, February 15, 2010

La Neige, toujours la Neige..

La Neige. Beaucoup neige. Ok.. I missed the Neige part of last week. I must have been out of town since the return yesterday was a bit of a jolt. A fricken winter wonderland as my Aunt Esther would say. Except that rather than the light touches upon the branches of trees, that almost Currier and Ives look of dainty snowflakes, this was more like a tsunami of snow. Deep? It was DEEP. When you fall in up to the middle of your thighs, and walking becomes like a Flash Gordon sequence about the joys of escaping quicksand, you know there is a lot of snow out there.

Coming from Utah I was never really impressed by the snow on the east coast. We had a reasonable parka, but in all my years in Salt Lake I dont think I ever used longjohns to stay warm (well, maybe skiing.) In any event, it was a helluva storm, and even a week later its a challenge to maneuver anywhere outside the house. It was a weekend made for Safeway: they sold and sold and nothing is left. Awaiting that truck from Tennessee to resupply. It's on its way, but it could be a while. Here area few snaps of the side of the house and back yard. For once, the weather folks at local tv who normally have nothing to say, but say it anyway, were almost right about hyping the storm. Given that there is literally no place to throw the plowed snow, dont be surprized if the level of the Potomac goes up a foot or so. We're just sayin'.... David
Half a Miata

While I was judging the Boston Press Photographers Assn. contest in Boston, one of my pictures of Ted Kennedy won an "Award of Excellence" at the White House News Photographers assn. contest.. here with...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

So Sorry, Faithful Readers...

Dear “We’re Just Sayin” followers -- David and I apologize for the lack of blobbing over the past few months. (Here’s the ‘making excuses’ part of the program). What with my change in careers and suddenly producing five (potentially Broadway) musicals.
Iris' new business card, with thanks to Jeff M. who we miss...
David’s new books, “Soul Rebel” and “44 Days”, and Passover fast approaching, (Please call your local PBS station and tell them it will be available Royalty FREE through NETA on March 21, we have been a bit overwhelmed with work, play, and our extraordinary popularity. That being said, I am now going to blob (whine) about my adventure in Arlingtonland.

It’s almost Valentines day and my pal Michael Berman has been hosting a Valentines day lunch for all his girlfriends, for thirty years. The group has increased in number from about 10 to 150. And while it’s not as intimate—nor do we get roaring drunk anymore – it’s always fun. We have been celebrating at the Four Seasons for the past few years, so I don’t have to tell you how wonderful the food is. In addition, Michael always gives us the best party favors (and if you’re lucky you can take the gorgeous flowers—like at a Bar Mitzvah.) This year the gift is a little hanger you use to hang your purse from the table, instead of putting it on the floor. (We are big ‘no bags on the bed’ people because if you put your purse, suitcase, or bag of any type on the floor of the subway, restaurant or theater, and then put it on your bed, God knows what you will be sleeping with. Anyway, these adorable devices prevent scuz from getting on your bag.

But where was I? Oh yes, overwhelmed. So, yesterday I planned to travel home to VA. Where you may recall, we had about two feet of snow. Most of the trains from NY to DC were cancelled and the only available seat was on something AMTRAK reorganized to leave at 2PM. This meant there was no way I could get home before dark. But so what. There was no choice. I wanted to go to Michael’s lunch.
snow piled up on the trash cans
The streets from DC to VA. were plowed and, because the US Government was closed, there was no traffic. Oh joy! I thought, this isn’t going to be a nightmare. But when we reached 19th street and saw it wasn’t plowed, I told the cabbie I would walk the two blocks—yes carrying my stuff on the icy pavement. OK, I only fell once. When I arrived at my house I realized that in order to get in I would have to borrow a shovel and dig my way to the front door. That took two hours (There was a lot of snow). When at last I made it up the step and inside, I was wet and cold, which is probably why I didn’t realize there was no heat. I didn’t realize how cold it was downstairs, until I went up to my bedroom where the heat was working.
this would be the 'path' from house to street, like an English Maze
The heating people promised to send a technician between 12-4. Of course, the lunch was from 12-3. But since I had come back to go to the lunch, I was not about to miss it. And I’m delighted that I didn’t because luckily, the technician came at 4 – which is when I thought I better go buy some food. After three or four supermarket stops where there was no milk, eggs, bread, butter, greens, or any produce, I called Trader Joe’s. “Do you have any food in your store”, I asked. “Well, of course, we’re a grocery,” he said somewhat bewildered. Well so are all the Giants, and Safeways but they don’t have any food. (Nothing. Zip, nada.)

Enough whining. The heat is fixed, I have food and wine, and the plow has come through. All in all it’s been a colorful adventure I don’t need to have again. This really would have been a good storm to include the snowmen in the census. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Saturday, February 06, 2010

the Master of the Capuccino, and more..

The other day I had a chance to grab a coffee, well, more like a cappuccino, with a guy who makes a pretty good cup himself. In fact, he handled the espresso machine with the same kind of aplomb he did his cameras for the better part of half a century. The coffee was rich, and foamy with that deep swirl of flavor on the top, throwing out that sweet aromatic invitation to taste it. His pictures are pretty much the same way. It's hard to just throw them a cursory glance. They need to be looked at, appreciated. Seen and felt.

John Dominis (former LIFE photographer), New York City, Jan. 26, 2010
Coming of age as I did in the '60s, I was aware of his work even before I knew who he was. In fact, the weekend that I left home to try and make it in the 'big city,' my send-off dinner was my mom's attempt to reconstruct the unreconstructable: a perfect 'steak au poivre,' as seen in the pages of that week's LIFE magazine. Its 'Great Dinners' series made available wonderful dishes not only for the Mad Men of New York, but also Farmers in Iowa and Teachers in Utah. The steak au poivre was that perfect mix of color and texture, and the juicy meat fairly flew off the pages, right onto your plate. Of course, mom's version didn't really live up to the sizzle in LIFE, but it was, at least, a worthy try. It was years later when I discovered that in the pre-Photoshop world of the '60s, the photographer, my host, had to double-expose the pepper onto the meat. Mom was off the hook.

I'd also seen samples of his work from a dozen stories, as varied as a LIFE photographer's world could be, including one of the first sets of pictures of the 'Great Cats of Africa.' It was another time altogether from the world we know today, and so I was all the more pleased to be able to taste a great cappuccino made in the cozy kitchen of John Dominis. I'd known of John for a long time, arriving as I did at the end of the LIFE weekly, but it wasn't until he became the picture editor of People in the '70s that I really got to know him. (Of course there is always a risk when photographers become the picture editors: they know where all those expenses are hidden!) His work at LIFE was as varied as you can imagine, from food to the Olympics (Winter and Summer), and of course, the Great Cats. It was a world where the photographer was king. "When I got to Nairobi, I went out and bought a Toyota Land Cruiser," he told me with a grin worthy of a 15-year-old kid. "I took it to a body shop and had a hole cut in the roof so I could shoot out the top with my long lenses. I never ASKED anyone if I could buy it; I just DID." And even though I know that I will never again live in a world where a photographer can just BUY an SUV for a job without asking a bean counter, just hearing him tell the story made it rich enough to share.

(© 2010 David Burnett / Contact Press Images)
John Dominis (former LIFE photographer), New York City, Jan. 26, 2010
John came by that talent honestly. He, like an amazing half-dozen others – including Mark Kauffman, John Zimmerman, Wally Bennett and Hank Walker – all attended the same high school in Los Angeles before World War II, where a very talented photo teacher helped unleash inordinate amounts of potential talent. In all, some seven grads eventually made it to the ranks of the TIME-LIFE magazines. Amazing.

My rediscovery of John Dominis' work came about by accident a couple of years ago. Wandering through a big book store, I found a copy of the book John did with then writer Dick Stolley (later a LIFE editor) on Frank Sinatra in 1965. There is a fascinating piece of film of a chain-smoking Sinatra recording "Autumn of My Years" in the studio. He does it on one take. That is the same kind of brilliance Dominis brings to his pictures. One take. No need to fake it a second time. He is a photographer.

The book, "Sinatra: An Intimate Portrait of a Very Good Year," would be right up there in my two or three all-time favorite books whose photography, both artistically and by method, are the absolute distillation of what photojournalism should be. John's story of how he spent the first days with Sinatra without even carrying a camera, in an attempt to just become a welcome part of Ol' Blue Eyes' entourage, showed a cunning patience and understanding of how to work with people. Later, when the cameras were in evidence, his eye engaged, the pictures flowed like nectar. This book is, truly, one of the great photographic endeavors for anyone who values the idea of "taking" pictures, and not "making" pictures. The astonishing thing is that John, who worked for LIFE for nearly 30 years, was so adept at doing whatever needed to be done, as were many of his colleagues. There were specialists, yes, but the generalists were the masters of the turf. The switch from leopards in Tanzania, to succulent pepper steaks at the studio, and thence to Sinatra's old trick of pulling a tablecloth off a table, and leaving the plates behind, was seamless and wonderful in all regards.

In an age of specialization, when some photographers only shoot THIS camera with THIS light against THIS background, to become reacquainted with a genius like John is a sublime pleasure. He reminds you that in photography you can pretty much do anything you want to do, if you decide to make it happen (true, a good budget never hurts.) John is now working on a book of pictures done with Steve McQueen (if you are under 40 and don't know who is he is, look him up on Netflix; he was a prize!). His pictures of McQueen, done without any fixers, publicists or handlers, are impossibly fresh and candid. It makes you wonder why today's stars don't take note. Meanwhile, John retains a twinkle in his eye – you know the one; it's the same twinkle that must have charmed Sinatra four decades ago. And when you sip that cappuccino, you once again know you're in the hands of a master.

We're just sayin' … David

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

For Better or For Worse

On the morning of January 30, 2010, Jordan asked me if I had forgotten anything? I didn’t think so. “Well wasn’t yesterday your anniversary?”
“OMG!” I said, (because I’m very today otherwise I would have said Oh my God). And we both started to laugh. I could not believe that, after all these years, I just didn’t remember. Then she called David and said, “Hey Dad, I know something you don’t know.” Children always know something their parents don’t know, so he was not surprised until she said, “Yesterday was your anniversary.” He had the same reaction that I did. He just laughed.

Is this the good news or the bad. After 31 years together, 26 of them as a married couple, forgetting the date that you wed is unexpected. Or as Don Rickles used to say, ‘We’ve been happily married for twenty years, of course we just celebrated our golden anniversary.’ (But he said it funnier) To answer the question, good news or bad, who knows. At least we both forgot, so there were no hard feelings. But you have to ask yourself the question “why”?

Are we so busy that we don’t have time to think about one another? Is the day we got married not worth remembering. Have we been married so long that it has become just another ordinary day. Or, are we so old that we can’t remember anything? I’m not sure that any of these are the reason we forgot. It could be that we are so much in love that everyday is equally important and meaningful. I’m going with the last one.

As with most couples who have been together for years, the people you are were are not necessarily the people who you have become. And when you have been together for a long time (and it’s still terrific) you have to find ways to celebrate that, more than one day a year. Does that make any sense to you?

Whew, that was a little too close to serious for my taste. So, why am I thinking about this? Yesterday we got a “Gefilte Fish Chronicles”, order (1 DVD… 1 Cookbook) from Hyman Krantz. Rabbi Krantz officiated at our wedding. He was the first Rabbi at the Boonton Jewish Center, among which my family were founding members. I adored him because he taught us how to sing the Sabbath Service…. Which I can still do. And, even more importantly, because we were not easy kids and unlike so many other Rabbi’s he maintained a wonderful sense of humor about us and himself. Twenty six years ago, when we decided to make the relationship permanent, my mother wanted us to married by a Rabbi. It wasn’t important to me because Rabbi Krantz was the only one I would even consider. And, after 30 years, no one knew where he was living. But leave it to my mother: she found him, flew him to New Jersey, and reintroduced him to my wacky family on, as he said, “this auspicious occasion.”

Of course, once I had the DVD order and their telephone number, I called to say hello. We had a lovely reunion. They sounded exactly the same. In my mind, neither the Rabbi or Roz, his wife, have ever changed. They will always remain young, vital and forever attractive. They said that someone who knew they had lived in Boonton, told them they had seen “The Chronicles.” They wanted a copy so they could share sweet memories and to show at a cousins reunion over next weekend.

Sweet memories. We got married at my parent’s home. My dad was ill and we thought we would have the ceremony in their bedroom. Just immediate family. That was never going to happen. My mother moved all the furniture out of the house and put it on a truck in the driveway. She invited the whole family because there is never just “immediate.” My dad got out of bed, where he had been for two months. Our friends came from all over the country. We had a big cocktail party in New York following a fabulous breakfast buffet in New Jersey. We had a honeymoon suite at the Regency. And as a special wedding gift, had a big fat New York City parking ticket on the car because Matthew, who did us the favor of dropping us at the party, then parked it in a bus zone. We had one day together and David left for Jamaica.

Our life together has never changed. Always surrounded by beloved family and friends. Always independent but attached. And always laughs, no matter what we forget – or remember. We’re just sayin’….Iris