Thursday, April 23, 2015

It was a gorgeous day on the boardwalk. Sun shining, gentle breeze, everything very still. A few local people walking briskly towards who knows where. The technically proficient  outdoor sound system started to play the Star Spangled Banner. Everyone still or walking, paused for the music, hands over their hearts. (Jersey people are like that). We followed suit.  It was not a new experience for me.  Whenever the Star Spangled Banner, plays. And I never  yell “ play ball”, when it's over.

The ocean is special to me. It is a place my father loved. When I picture him,  it is running up and down  on the sand. Waves breaking in the background. Stevie, Edie, and me chasing, but never catching him.

Atlantic City is not what it was when we were growing up. What is?  But there is a pervasive sadness about the decline.  Now with gambling everywhere, there is no uniqueness to make it a place anyone wants to be.  The casinos are closing one by one.  We are at the Tropicana visiting with Jordan – who is performing in “a Tribute to Glee”.  The show is energetic and delightful.  If any of our readers are in the area, go see it.  It will be on for until the 22 of May.

The girls have been warned never to go anywhere alone.  What a shame that this is the new Atlantic City.  There is so much potential here.  We discovered  a little cafĂ©  at California Street on the boardwalk called the Bungalow complete with  Hookah, where you can sit peacefully outside, surrounded by fluffy pillows on benches, people watch, eat good food served by the friendliest, sweetest young women, all from Eastern Europe who have become accustomed to answering a “thank you” with  “no problem “, instead of “ you’re welcome” ( just one of this blobbers  pet peeves).

Anyway, this city is much like Newburgh, where we live.  It is physically beautiful,  and there are some areas that are in terrible turmoil. Of course, Newburgh has lots of ethnic places to eat,  places to shop nearby and a train to New York City five minutes away.  Newburgh has people who want it
restored to it’s 1950’s glory.  Atlantic City has the ocean and what appears to be, no cheerleaders. Both are cities that need to be changed for the better.  For Newburgh there is hope.  Atlantic City needs commerce and tourism exclusive of the casinos. Who knows. Anything is possible, I hope.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Clam Happy

And I repeat, how do we know that a clam is ever happy?  This morning, at the “fitness center,” (when did it stop being a gym?), it occurred to me that I was happy as a clam.  This led me to other thoughts, as often happens when you are as wise as I.  Like, is a steamed clam as happy as one in a garlic sauce? Or, does it hurt when it gets opened? Or what happened to the clam that never opened?  That took me to cremation. (Don't ask). When we were writing our Last Will and Testaments, it was determined that we wanted to be cremated.  I thought it would be fun to be cremated like a cholent with onions, potatoes, and steak seasoning.  Then my ashes would be put in film cans and distributed to anyone who wanted to remember me, and they could decide what to do with the well seasoned ashes. 

Back to the clam dilemna  later…..  For whatever reason,  I remembered a story I wrote many years before on “We’re just sayin…”.  It was about a dilemna  we had when Jordan was in preschool.  Montessori was the route most well informed, right thinking people took as an initial step in their child’s education.  When Jordan came home at the end of each day and we asked her how she spent her time in school, she showed us how she learned dexterity with circular motions in the table, walls, chairs, counters… Everywhere.  And it was absolutely clear to me that we were raising a generation of cleaning ladies and men.

Next it was, like most days a trip down memory lane, when all the late friends and family (they’re not late, they’re not coming), touch my heart in different ways. Mostly, it would be great to talk to them and that cannot happen.  Too morbid, back to politics.

Marty is in Iowa and New Hampshire deciding if he should run for President.  (If you don’t know which Marty, skip this sentence). While Hillary is rolling out her campaign by announcing  on social media.  Most media people think it's to avoid questions from the media.  Maybe, but it is possible that she is just cool and wants the world to know she is technically savvy.  And really, who but the media care.  If you can name 20 people….. Never mind.  The most interesting thing about the campaign is also the most volatile—Bill.  Apparently he has to have his own campaign so he stays out of her campaign.  They think that he needs to be controlled.  Good luck with that.

How did I get here?  Oh yes, the clam. Or was it dilemmas?  Salt Lake City is a beautiful place, where it is possible to get clams. But it is also possible to get an elk or bison burger, which is my preference.  We know that SLC is not going to support Marty or Hillary.  So beautiful as it is, it would not be my choice for a residence. Although there are people here who might want to spread my ashes – dead or alive. 

In conclusion, our dear friend Michael Harding should never be anywhere where he might encounter latex.  Feel better soon dear friend and we hope the swelling goes away soon. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Monday, April 06, 2015

Now, About That Afikomen....

As children we had a skewed idea about the meaning of Passover.  For all the kids at the Dubroff seder (in Aunt Sophie’s basement),  we thought the holiday was a celebration of silver dollars.  All the littler children would wait outside my Aunt’s house and await the arrival of my Uncle Jack.  He was the bank.  He would arrive with bags of silver dollars.  The male cousins, who were at least 6 years old, would guard him in the long walk past Aunt Fritzie’s and into Aunt Sophie’s (maybe a block and a half).  Then he would disperse the little silver gems to Uncles Ed, Joe, and Lou. (this, we were never allowed to see.) After the afikomen (half a matzoh that was hidden and unless found you couldn’t finish the Seder) was discovered, often under our Grandfather’s seat, we would all line up.  The Uncle’s would give each of us $10 — sometimes $20 silver dollars.

We had no idea the value of the gifts, so the next thing that would happen was Uncle Lou would offer a $20 bill in exchange for $10 silver dollars. The smart ones wouldn’t take that deal - there was something special about those silver coins.  But it didn’t end with the generous Uncle Lou exchange.  We would then have to line up in front of our Grandma and deliver into her hands at least 10% of the monetary take.  This was for charity or tzedukuh.  It was still ok because we would walk away with at least $50.  In the early sixties that was a great deal of money. 

Passover was never optional.  It happened and you attended. Grandpa led the Seder with Uncle Jack (the only male child of the eight Dubroff siblings).  Then Aunt Sophie sold her house and the Seder moved to Aunt Peppy’s.  Uncle Jack was in charge until he died, when Uncle Moishe took over.  There was quite a change in the character of the Seder.  Uncle Jack was a trouble maker, and very funny.  Uncle Moishe was religious and pretty severe.  He expected all of us (the Dubroff progeny) to pay attention.  What he didn’t realize was that for the cousins it was not just a holiday, it was a chance to get together and catch up on activities of the past year. 

Eventually, family members conducted their own first Seders and we would try to make it  on the 2nd night to Newburgh for the big Seder.  It was not easy for me to get to Newburgh.  I opted to help my Aunts make the gefilte fish (always the most colorful of all Passover activities) and First Seder was in Washington DC with friends and silly hats. It was where I fell in love with one David Burnett.  For that reason and many others, Passover became, (personally),  an important holiday.

In 2004 David, feeling that unless we recorded it, future generations of kids would never really know what making things from scratch, like they did in Brooklyn in the early 1900s, was all about.  So he shot video of the family celebration, which became The  Gefilte Fish Chronicles. It was one of the last Seders at Aunt Peppy’s.  Fortunately, the documentary is repeated yearly on any number of PBS stations (this year in Rhode Island, Ft Myers, Tulsa, and NYC among others.) Even though we have stacks of  DVDs of the documentary, it’s still fun to watch it broadcast — LIVE —  on TV.  To laugh at the inevitable family fights, to cry when I hear my mothers voice, and to celebrate the power of family with the thousands of people who also watch it every year.  And complain about the fact that Amazon.Com… which only orders what their “computer” thinks it needs, never listens to us in March to explain that “you better order a couple of dozen DVDs…” and instead, they simply  are “out of stock temporarily.”  Obviously NOT a Jewish computer in charge of ordering.

This year the second Seder was smaller than it usually is. We had 30 instead of the usual 60.   All family, with everyone pitching in.  It had the same spirit as the Passover celebrated in the documentary.  When people ask us why we bother with all that work, we refer them to the new musical— “Gefilte Fish  Chronicles - the Musical” which was inspired by the documentary.  We bother because it’s one way to keep the spirit of those who have gone before us alive in our minds, our hearts, and our joy.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Can You Smell the Fish?

Silly things seem to occur more frequently lately.  Ted Cruz, who is a silly thing, unknowingly signed up for Obama Care. Read that sentence carefully with special emphasis on unknowingly. Can you imagine the kind of things he might do unknowingly if he were President.  He might, for example, commit troops to Finland, because he thought the Northern Lights were actually an attack on all the Scandinavian countries.

Let's pause for a minute to consider why a person might not want to send an e-mail through any government system.  (I'll get back to this). 

Secret Service agents have failed to prevent any number of lunatics (some of them being SS agents) access to the White House. Rest assured the new head of the SS (who is not really new) insists that that  the President and his family are safe. But he didn’t accurately report the incidents—or at least start the sentence. He should have said, “no thanks to us”, the President…..

And how about protecting Ambassadors.  There seems to be something missing here. Like actually protecting Ambassadors.  Maybe, because of the baroque clearance system, the memo never got to the State Protection people.  The memo, “we are not a popular country. Our ambassadors are in danger”. If I were the Secretary of State, I wouldn't send anything through officials channels.  Personally, I think Hillary was incredibly kind not to reveal how dysfunctional the system remains.  Ask someone at State, how Top Secret is determined.  When I received my first Top Secret document, I wondered how they knew I could be trusted with this important information. I then put it in my underwear, wandered over to Main State, (my office was in Rosslyn! Across the river), searched for a someone who would know what to do with it. And Let them open it only to find it was delivered to me by mistake.

Because you are supposed to change all your dishes and do a serious spring cleaning a number of Jewish families just move to a hotel or another home for the Passover holiday. (When I was married to someone who’s parents were German Jews, and not from Utah, this is what they did.)  But you still needed to prepare to go away.  So  If you go to a supermarket or a Costco in a place where there is a large Jewish population, you will find that people, who are usually quite normal, become lunatics.  In the supermarket people are using their shopping carts as weapons. Getting in a checkout line is an army maneuver.  The shoppers can't wait to get going to wherever they are going. This leads to abnormal behavior as well as religious fanatism. 

It's April and it's still snowing. Is it any wonder that people are confused. We need to figure out how to transfer all the East coast weather to the West coast. (If only).  They could really use the water.

This has been an unusual year. Not all bad but not all good.  Political campaigns are forming and there are years before the election.  This will give the American people lots of time to decide who not to vote for…. Unfortunately, regardless of the passions about the issues, people just don't vote. 

 So happy holidays and do what you need to do to get out and vote.

We're just sayin'.... Iris