Friday, April 30, 2010

How sTip*2u9sd are We??

Ok,I am a reasonable guy. I work in the world (more or less) of journalism.. but the last 24 hours has taxed even my ability to deal with the ongoing idiocies which we have been gifted by the glitterati. This may in fact be my shortest blog entry (ought it to be a Tweet instead??) but herewith is my point:

Friday 30 April was designated "No Texting" Driving day by Oprah Winfrey.. I don't actually mind that she is encouraging folks to give up the Texting.. on a strictly rational basis, we know it takes all your wits to drive a car safely, but my personal read it the 'distracted' driving issue is this: Far more people are performing in a scary fashion due to burgers, fries and limeades than by texting. You could make a case that you should NOT talk and drive, cause every driver knows that it takes certain effort to participate in a conversation.. hands free or not, your brain is still busy. Not as busy as the freak-out mode when you spill ketchup on your tie, and drip burger drippings on your newly pressed Dockers. That's the kind of distraction which really bores into those driving skill gray cells. I believe when you drive in a stupid fashion (and we all do.. ) that in particular the ones that occur while talking on a cell phone make you worthy of being yelled at. It's just that there is no reason NOT be yelled at when you drive in an asinine fashion, so just pony up and take the bitching. And likewise, you see someone driving in an idiotic fashion, I hereby authorize you to yell at them, usually something like "put down the G-Dam phone, you twit~" Not sure it works but it makes you feel like there is a chance to spread the word about bad driving point: On tv this morning you had he GMA crew all saying they were going to sign Oprah's pledge (this was after Oprah, on the fone, beseeched all to put the fone down while behind the wheel...) and George and Robin and Sam, and company all said that for today at least, they would honor the pledge. So, whats the issue? Only that NONE OF THESE PEOPLE DRIVE A FRICKEN CAR.... they re all in limos and cabs. Larry King tonight, announced that he too would sign the pledge. Ill bet Larry hasn't put his foot to pedal on anything stronger than a Golf Cart in a dozen years.

So, move ahead, says I, with all these do-gooder plans... hey I can be a do-gooder, too. But count on trying to figure out just how we can keep everything running while driving and not talking. Today, en route from one assignment to the next, I found myself with cell fone in hand. A car blew by, and I thought.. souvenir me a break, dude... but stay out of my space. I'm not texting,,

I'm Sending an eMAIL !!!

we're just sayin'... David

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Way It Might Have Been

And did we have a good time? You betcha. It would be terrific to remember the details. Here’s what I know.

Sometimes I feel like the old Victorian beach mansion we lived in for a summer. While I am sleeping, my body stays awake figuring out how it’s going to fall apart in the morning. It’s clear that I have been asleep, because I have been dreaming the same dream every night for the past two weeks. This dream is particularly weird and at times frightening, so I will gladly share it with people who are either weird or like to be frightened. We can only assume that if you’re still reading the blob you must be, at least, a little weird.

The dream begins in Boonton NJ, at the house in which my mother lived for 56 years. We sold the house two years ago when Mom moved to Washington State. Anyway, before we signed final papers and closed on the sale, we went into the basement and taped our four pictures in a place where no one would ever find them. (Editor’s note: I have no idea WHERE she put them.) In this way, we could remain part of the spirit of what was, for ever and ever. And that’s how the dream begins…

We (both Jeff’s family and mine and mom and dad) are at the house. It’s some kind of holiday –maybe Christmas or Thanksgiving, which we traditionally spent at the house. The house is no longer ours. We are there, unbeknown to the new owners, or anyone else we may have known. In other words, we are living in our old house, the new owners are somewhere else (we have no idea where) except I was worried that they would come and find out that, like a bad dream, we had come back, to spend who knows how long, as uninvited guests. I knew we were uninvited because I was afraid they would come home and have us arrested. Jeff kept telling me not to worry, that they couldn’t have us arrested because we still belonged there. In my heart I knew it was a lie – but still we didn’t leave. Oh, and dad walking and perfectly fine –which had not been true for 45 years.

In addition to my concern about trespassing, Jordan was about nine and she was dating someone who was at least fifteen. And no matter what I did or said, she refused to listen to me. She got all dressed up (with make-up and high heals) and chose to ignore my every plea. Devin was also small and she jumped around yelling something about how she was going to get in trouble, so Seth said he would follow her on her dates to make sure she was safe. The fifteen year old, who didn’t seem to be anyone we knew, came to the house to pick Jordan up, but he had to sneak in the front door (the one we never used), so none of the neighbors would see that we were there. I have no idea how we managed to hide, but it was, after all a dream.

If I knew someone who interpreted dreams, I would ask them to help me figure out the meaning of these repetitive fantasies because the not knowing is a bit disturbing – but I don’t, so all insights (as long as they are not sexual) are welcome and appreciated.

In the meantime, (while I’m waiting for analysis) and in order to pretend that I’m not lazy and without imagination, I’ll give it a guess. Here goes: Way down deep inside, I think we shouldn’t have sold the house because in our souls we are totally New Jersey. And now we have no where to be when we visit. Of course, we don’t have anyone to visit, except mom, but she no longer lived there --that’s beside the point. It could be that I ate some bad mandel bread and it has stayed with me for the last two weeks. Or it might be my turmoil about where to live. Nonsense. What does any of that have to do with the fact that Jordan was dating at nine and more importantly, she didn’t listen to me?

Oh my, oh my, it’s too bad I don’t have a better imagination because think of all the fabulous characters with whom I might have slept over the last two weeks. Never mind, I already did that when I was young. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

A Night At the OPIEs

A great night at the Opies. It was a great night, even if they aren’t actually referred to as the Opies. That is to say, the awards given for Foreign reporting by the Overseas Press Club of America are NOT named for the character played by Ron Howard in the Andy Griffiths show. They are, however a pretty select group of prizes, given strictly for work which is done from ‘Overseas,’ in the great tradition of what the French would call “les grands Reporters..” I have been lucky enough to garner several awards from this group over the length of my career (the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1974 for coverage of the Chile Coup, Best Photo Reporting from Abroad in 1980 for the Iran Revolution and the Boat People of Vietnam, and 1985 for coverage of the Ethiopian famine.) But this year was quite special, as the reason for my attendance was the awarding of the Olivier Rebbot award, given for photo reporting excellence. Olivier was a good pal for the brief 8 years that I knew him. We worked together often, and spent far too much time in little cafes in search of a meal which would ultimately turn out to be disappointing in a culinary fashion but totally satisfying on a personal one. We met on the subway in the summer of 1973 en route to Queens to see the Guru Maharaji, the 15 year old wunderkind who had created quite the scene in that era when such things happened regularly but were not yet covered by cable tv news (that was almost a decade later.) We spent time in any number of foreign capitals, including a wonderful few days in Cairo, in Paris, and ultimately in Tehran during the revolution against the Shah. It was there that we really bonded like brothers, a friendship forged in both a commonality of working in challenging street situations, but more importantly rising at 6 in the morning and racing to Mehrabad airport to find passengers to carry our films out. There was no internet, no digital camera, no laptop. It was still Canon AE1, and Kodachrome (though I think he shot mostly Ektachrome) and consequently a need to find some willing passenger who understood that much was on the line to make sure the aforementioned films arrived safely in some European capitol where they could be transshipped to New York. It all seems nearly quaint, this vast logistical struggle to merely get exposed films to a safe haven, but it was the only alternative. Hard as it is to imagine a world without email, we actually kept our quite minimal communications with Paris and NY offices to short telexes and when you could score an overseas line, a brief phone call (collect!) I don’t think that I will ever be able to sufficiently explain to Jordan, who at 24 has only known a world where Blackberry messages and IMs are the rule. To conjur up what life was like pre-computer is like trying to imagine what life was like without cans of beer, or iceboxes which ran on ice, not electricity. While you can possibly get there intellectually, you can never really understand the emotions which those constrictions placed on your ability to ‘be in touch.’ Nearly everyone my age who has been in journalism for 30 years or more asks the same question: how in the hell did we ever get anything DONE? Could you really maneuver your lifes travels based on the hinted information in a three line telex? Telex was, I guess, the first email, albeit at 50 baud (todays lines are 64000000 baud) but the economy with which we were forced to write was probably a good thing. I am only sorry that all our telexes from the 1970s are just packed into one of those banker boxes that we keep old bills and invoices. The stories they could tell!
Eliane Laffont with a pic of her granddaughter, Bob Pledge
Pledge, John Kifner (who wrote the introduction to "44 Days", and DB
Kerry Smith (ABC TV) and Iris B(BigFishBigPond Productions)
pals Pam Taylor and Tom Herman
Last Thursday was one of those lovely evenings when the awards process only went about 15 minutes too long. When it came to award #4 (there were 20 in total, plus a Lifetime award to Andy Rooney) it was a pleasure not only to thank the OPC but to speak for a minute about Olivier and his life & work. The book which won the award “44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World” is a project which was started in a back room at Contact two years ago. Coming home from a trip away, I found that Jacques Menasche and Rob’t Pledge had laid out hundreds of pictures from the Iran pictures in a chronological order, virtually creating what would become the book, a photographic memoir. The interesting thing about this book is that for Iranians in their 50s and 60s, its almost like the book is their college days’ yearbook. I spent a lot of time with Olivier – including those early morning airport runs to find ‘pidgeons’ for our film out of Tehran, and the book is ultimately dedicated to him. It was a meaningful and emotional night to accept the award. And the night capping off with Andy Rooney’s Lifetime award was a nice touch. If you don’t know his book “My War” about his years as a Stars and Stripes reporter in Europe during WWII, you owe it to yourself to grab it. It’s a wonderful and very personal discovery of a young reporter on the ‘big story.’
DB and Olivier, maneuvering Tehran traffic (cr.: Alain Mingham) 1979
Olivier was shot while covering a battle in El Salvador in 1981, and the outpouring of grief from friends and colleagues was overwhelming. He was a talent, and much loved. In the year to come we (@ Contact) will be trying to put together a documentary film about his work and his life,

so if you knew Olivier, and we haven’t managed to track you down yet for an interview, please be in touch. He’d have liked that. We’re just sayin’…David

A Great Party, Eh?

Headed to Pearson Airport this morning at the crack of dawn, and if you have to check your Google airport lists, you’ll eventually find that this is the airport for Toronto. My first trip here in over twenty years, was to be a presentor at the News Photographers Assn. of Canada’s annual awards weekend. They make quite the little program – two days of presentations by photographers, both domestic and foreign, plus some tech tips (always handy) and a quite fun awards presentation, this year done in a large funky gallery space in on of those districts that is morphing from warehouse to art. One of the real surprises to me was the fervent cosmopolitan flavor of the city. I’d taken an airport bus to town when – having presented myself at the customs clearance hall to the assembled waiting multitudes, no one jumped up and down and said “Hey Dave! Welcome to Toronto.” The bus dropped me off near that giant CT tower (correct me if I’m wrong but I think it’s the tallest structure in North America) with the hint that my hotel was 3 or 4 blocks away. I started to walk north, and the walk turned into something more like 2 miles, but it was absolutely welcoming as a way of getting to see the place. Broad avenues, at which NO ONE jaywalked (shades of Beverly Hills), with cops briskly whistling at traffic to keep moving, and expansive green spaces with stately old colonial buildings. Then, I walked a couple of blocks east, in search of a bite to eat, and plunk! found myself on Yonge street. Apparently it’s regarded as being one of ‘the longest streets in the world’ and what a treat it was. Almost set apart from the neighborhood around it, it is one of the funkiest, most delightful collections of Asian restaurants, and odd ball shops, that I’ve ever seen. The Korean/Vietnamese/Chinese/Sushi eateries were literally endless (I regard a sight such as that as a fantastic and wonderful challenge…) and, finding a Noodlery, took a little break from my walk. It’s hard to think of yourself as being in a ‘foreign’ country, but I was reminded by the good people (yes, I’m being facetious) at Verizon Wireless – that calling whilst in the Dominion would cost me an additional $1 a minute roaming plus .25 per text message. I’m still befuddled as to why our cell fones cost so damn much, while every peasant in Bolivia and Lebanon spends the whole day chattering up friends on their mobiles. Making it to the hotel, I jumped right into the opening ceremonies: a soirĂ©e of portfolio reviews sustained by bottles of Sheelan (sp?) cream ale. The pictures were as good as the beer, and frankly, it’s kind of fun to return to a culture where grownups just enjoy their brewskis in the manner that Ben Franklin did (“Beer is proof that God loves us…”) There were several very good, young photographers in the mix. Sometimes doing portfolio reviews can be really difficult: when the work isn’t very good, what do you say? I’ve never been good at tearing up someone’s prize prints, tossing them on the ground and saying “try getting work as a beautician!” like some infamous editors of the 1960s. But I have to say that most of the young photographers had something worth seeing in what they were showing. One in particular, Christopher Pike, is someone we’ll be seeing things from going forward.

Of course the real issue is …see WHERE? What will be the vehicles, the organs, the manifestations of still photography that will take the place of the magazine / newspaper world which has driven the “press” for so many decades. As the downward spiral of media companies continue, the real issue remains how to find a suitable path for sharing the work which isn’t based on some spurious “free” model of today. Even well turned out (over 100 photographers) events such as this will be in peril going forward if there is no way for the companies who use these images to actually pay their photographers.

One of the most gratifying moments for me came with the reuniting of old friends. Bob Lindberg, who has lived for three decades in Toronto, came with his wife Sylvia to my presentation Saturday morning. He was a year ahead of me at Colorado College, having been an All American hockey player in high school in Minneapolis, and one of the stalwarts of the CC team. We were fraternity brothers (Kappa Sigma, if you must know!) and since school our lives have diverted in very different directions. I pursued my photography all over the place, while Bob played in Switzerland as a pro for ten years before retiring, marrying, and getting into the rug trade in Toronto as in importer. His travels took him to many of the same places I went to, though for different pursuits – his rugs, mine mugs, and remains today a very international guy with a very aw shucks attitude (hmmm reminds me of me!) His kids have gone walkabout, one living in Jersey (Channel Island) as a banker, the other in Australia. Talk about expense issues for a family reunion! We nipped out for breakfast after my early morning (8:30 really IS too early to speak and certainly to listen) talk, and were joined by Devyana Saltzman, whose uncle Dilip Mehta has been a long time colleague and photographer at Contact – though now he is producing feature films – and whose mom is Deepa Mehta, the film director. Devyana is a writer very much on her own, buoyed no doubt by the summer she interned at Contact a dozen years ago. It was really fun to connect all these dots at the same table. Back at the Seminar I FINALLY met Michael Harding, Harding and Burnett, a scary combo
an absolutely brilliantly funny chap whose writings to this blog are legendary. After so many online notes and comments, it was great fun to actually meet Mr. Harding, the genius behind so many devious and amusing postings.

The speakers ensemble included Andrea Bruce (formerly staff at the Wash. Post), Shihoh Fukoda, now freelancing from Beijing, Andrea and Shiho
and the irrepressibe Philip Blenkinsop of NOOR Images, an absolutely madcap freelancer who now calls Bangkok home. It was a wonderfully energetic and volatile mix of talent (the three of them are really amazing photographers - check their sites out), and I am pleased beyond words that we got to hang out a bit. The thing is, let’s face it, most of the time as a photographer, unless your beat is the White House or the Hill, or Paris Hilton at a night club, you’re on your own. You work a story, a photographic situation, but seldom in the company of others in your trade (ah, thats actually a good thing.) We all know each other by reputation and by published work, but it’s rare enough that you just get to hang with folks and catch up in an unhurried way. I guess I am at least a generation older than these folk, but I have to confess, that I for one, never stop learning, and I think I got as much out of their presentations -- and more importantly having a beer, as I have anything I’ve seen of late. I’m headed back home, mindful of the fact that short weekend hops like this, whether to see friends or do a workshop, can be enormously satisfying and meaningful. You don’t need a week, or even five days. And I have to confess our Canadian brethren are lucky enough to have countless brands and types of beer available. Even the “stock” stuff was first rate. When you come from a place like DC or NYC most of the time the best they can do is Heineken( Gimme a break!) So carry on, my friends to the North. Can’t wait till next year. We’re just sayin’… David

Monday, April 19, 2010

Steppin' on the Scale

If I were to say to you “Sam is the inspiration, he’s never going to get voted out.” Would you have any idea what I was talking about? Not unless you watch “Biggest Loser.” Clearly one of the most popular shows in prime time. Or at least, one of the most popular shows in the Burnett household.

“Biggest Loser” is a show about losing so much weight that you can change your life and your health for the better. But part of the show’s attraction are the challenges – which are unusually physical -- and the “game playing” – which is all about psychological warfare.

In past seasons the contestants, whether couples (parent/child, married) or singles, tried their best to figure out how they could ultimately be the Biggest Loser. There were people you rooted for because they seemed nice, or worked harder than others, or had great personalities. In our house, we picked two or three a season and invested all our energy in them. Sometimes they were finalists, sometimes they were eliminated almost immediately. We have been big fans of all the Tongan cousins because they had to change their lives and their culture norms. I remember a joke I heard years ago about how young Tongan women were thin and gorgeous until they were eaten by older Tongan women. Or some such thing. (It was funny at the time).

This season has been different. First of all, the contestants went before their entire community of friends and family and pledged that they would lose hundreds of pounds. To be that obese and stand almost undressed before all those people and have it televised – could not have been easy. It had to be embarrassing and humiliating to admit that you were gargantuan in front of the viewing public. But that act of raw courage gave you a sense of how brave these people were. And we liked most of them, almost immediately.

The woman we didn’t like the most was a “game” player. Not only did she try to sabotage all the other contestants, but she also tried to do her husband in. She was ‘offed’ pretty early. But her husband remained. And once he was eliminated, (which was partly due to her conniving), she was given the opportunity to reenter the program by winning a challenge. So he was out and, much to the disdain of everyone on the show, she was back. It didn’t last for long. Because this group of contestants was different from preceding seasons, the participants had no patience for anyone who “played a game” instead of encouraging contestants -- their newly formed friends, to lose weight and change their lives. So when the choice about who to eliminate was between someone who tried to play with their psyche’s and someone who provided inspiration, they chose to keep the person who (they felt) cared about them and was an inspiration. (That was the aforementioned Sam.)

It’s hard to know who will be the biggest loser. We love almost all the contestants who remain – it’s hard to cheer for just one. But what we have learned through their difficult challenges and interpersonal relationships, is that it's possible to be a winner (maybe not “The biggest Loser” ) by demonstrating respect for human accomplishment and respect for yourself and your colleagues. We're just sayin'.. Iris

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pesach Tridux

When I was looking around Broadway, to find a wandering musical that needed a political strategist in transition, I met Karen. She must have thought that without her tutelage, I would go astray – and she was probably right. Anyway, the first time we met we talked about things on and off Broadway and she wanted to know if I had been involved in producing anything. Reluctantly I admitted that I hadn’t done anything show related—except when I was teaching at Waltham High School- but producing for the theater seemed very similar to producing for the White House and besides, I insisted, I was a quick study. Furthermore, I had produced an award winning documentary called “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles”, which had been on many PBS stations – so I wasn’t totally clueless.

“You did that?” she said. “It changed our lives”. Hard for me to imagine my mother. Aunt Peppy and all my aunts changing any lives – other than by yelling, but I was intrigued. She went on to say that her husband’s family had always celebrated Passover, it was a big deal. But, over the last few years, they stopped -- until they saw “The Chronicles”, which inspired them to begin doing Seders again. Pretty wonderful that we could have that kind of impact on any reasonable people. It’s all good. And if you look at the comments on you will be amazed. At least we are touched every time a new comment magically appears. Anyway, Karen and I continued the conversation and I was eventually convinced that was a show in which I wanted to be involved.

We had planned to spend the second Seder at the Zodikoffs but the weather was still dreadful, so after having had a wonderful Matzoh brie breakfast, we decided that going back into the City and coming back that evening was ridiculous. We had invited Karen and her husband Loren to join us in NJ, but, like “The Movable Feast” (which we all made so there was honesty in my claiming the credit for the food), we packed all the food (I mean enough for the Czar’s Russian Army), and we drove back into the City to prepare for the second night of Passover with just us and Karen and Loren.

Since we were celebrating with real Passover ‘mavens’ we thought it was only fair to make group decisions about which prayers to include. We lit candles and went right to the four questions. After that we told stories about other Passovers, other times, and all the colorful characters we all encountered at our celebrations over the years. It was the nicest possible evening. Good friends, great stories, and the sharing of sweet memories with people we love.

Passover 2010 ended last night at 8:00. Aunt Peppy said so. In celebration I made two new kinds of mandel bread, and I lit a candle for all the “Angels” who can only celebrate with us in spirit. We haven’t started talking about next year yet. We’re still in recovery and reveling in the success of the whole process. And most importantly, we loved being together—just like our mothers – laughing, arguing, and crying. Like Aunt Peppy said—“the fish might be a little salty from the tears”, but we all know there is never enough salt. We're just sayin'... Iris

Pesach Redux

You were probably expecting a blog about the trip David and Jordan are taking across the country – they are driving the Southern Route,. So far they have been in Asheville, North Carolina, Memphis – to the Peabody to see the ducks, and Oklahoma City. Neither of them feels very well but I am told they are having fun. The pictures they have sent are Jordan in a Wall*Mart, Jordan at a Dairy Queen, Jordan painting her toenails while driving, and Jordan Sleeping. A book, these may not make, but stay tuned. If they don’t post those pictures, I will.

Back to the first night of Passover. The guests were asked to arrive by 6. Some arrived at 4. The weather was bad and the traffic was predicted to be terrible. And it was. (Lee and Marty never got past the GW Bridge.) The tent had a few leaks and the rain was steadily pouring in, but Omar the tent maker insisted that what looked like leaks was not always leaks, even if the table appeared to be wet, and he was on his way. It was almost like “your check is in the mail” but to the tune of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” We still didn’t know how the cholent would turn out, or if there was enough fish –only time would tell and, at this point, only God knew.

The best parts of the Seders we do now, are the parts that involve the children. Our children range from a few months to well into their teens. They, like their parents, look forward to Passover as time they get to spend together with their cousins just having family fun. Sure they think some of the material we use is lame, but they still participate and they still laugh. We spent too many years not having much fun at Seders and we all vowed that there would be no “Shushing” and no disciplining. We want them to connect fun with family holiday events. And whether it’s a rap about Moses, or an orange on the Seder plate, they do get into the explanations as well as the performances.

Even though the weather was awful, the food was great, the prayers, were limited to the important parts, and the laughs were many. Especially during the entertainment part of the program. Yes, we rented a keyboard, and had Matty Selman preview his songs for Gefilte Fish Chronicles the Musical. (Want to invest? Get there early and often). I wish I could share some of the music—but I know there is no one who reads this blob who can be trusted not to sell it to a recording studio. Maybe we’ll show you Aunt Peppy’s reaction to some of the tunes (if David can edit it).

As I have said before, for whatever reason everything came together and it was just special. We left at about 10 and reappeared for a matzoh brie breakfast before 8am the next day. In the documentary Aunt Peppy says “You can’t believe people could eat matzoh brie all morning – but they can.” And we did. Goodbyes were sweet and somewhat painful. Who knows what the new year will bring… but we are optimistic this year will bring joy, health and happiness (and more matzoh brie) to everyone of us and of course, to all our readers. More about second Seder tomorrow. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Sunday, April 04, 2010

a Wonderful Pesach

Other than when we were little kids, 2010 may have been the best Passover we ever had. It’s not that any of the others were bad, but this year seemed especially special. Sure, it was not without incident but it was the “perfect storm” of a Passover. The weather was awful and there were a few times we thought we were going to lose the tent, but other than a few small leaks, (which were repaired before the guests arrived), the structure held and everything stayed dry. .

Let’s start with a calendar of events – just so you have a sense of what happened (the potential for disaster), along with how successful it was. Rosalie and Dickie arrived home last Tuesday. By the time we arrived to “hock” (chopped with an old cleaver in a 100 year old wooden bowl) the gefilte fish on Friday they had already made a dozen sponge cakes. (Yes, it was amazing.)

Jordan, Clare, Kerry and I, left New York early enough to stop at the Tick Tock diner, and still arrive before the fish – which arrived with Honey and Sheila about 10:30. If you have read “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles Companion Cookbook”, then you know that first you and unpack the fish. (This year we used whitefish, carp, and pike). Once cleaned, the fish needs to be put through a grinder. It’s not that fish screams “grind me! grind me!” but before it gets”hocked”, it all gets combined with the onions. At the same time the fish is “hocked”, all the heads and bones (it’s already filleted) are boiled together with vegetables and made into stock. This part process takes about two hours. The fish is shaped and placed gently into boiling water for about three hours,

There is always a great deal of tasting and shouting about the seasoning. “More salt” is heard over and over. Once the fish is in, there is usually a shopping break. Since you never rid yourself of the fish smell it is entertaining to watch how strangers react to your odor. Shopping complete, fish tasted and cooling, it’s time to eat anything but fish. This year we all went to the Reservoir Tavern in Boonton. Then a restful sleep.

Over the course of the next few days, matzoh balls are made. (This year by 16 year old Sydney – who is next generation and makes the best matzoh balls ever.) The stuffing for the cholent is created. The matzoh farfel muffins, as well as the chicken, are baked.. Vegetables are cleaned. Chicken pieces become soup. And eggs are boiled. And the cholent is made ready. One of the challenges this year was the meat for the cholent. It is usally big nice pieces of chuck. This year the butcher delivered small, kind of flat pieces of whatever. (Hard to identify). But never to be deterred –especially when it’s too late, the meat was rolled and carefully placed in a pot (the size of Miami), with the potatoes and stuffing. SO MUCH FOOD. So little time. I’m exhausted, so back atcha later. We’re just sayin’….Iris

No Irony: leftovers come home in an antacid box...