Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Way it Was Meant to be

The Visit

Tomorrow is the day my cousins do the cemetery run.  It is something they have always done. Actually, there was a time when all the aunts went "to visit".  Early on they went to visit their parents, who buried in New Jersey, Long Island, way out on Long Island, and Newburgh NY. As time passed, so did the husbands and the siblings. And the number of the visitors dwindled. But still they went to every cemetery to visit everyone resting in peace.  You may wonder what they do when they get there. What does anyone do at a graveside.  If you are Jewish you don't leave flowers. You leave a memorial stone. And if you are my family you say a prayer -- at every grave.

This burial thing has always been an issue with me.  My mother told me that she would consider not being buried on the Island.  But then my dad had his leg chopped off and it got buried on Long Island -- Beth Something.  I asked her why she had decided to do this. It happens I know that the whole body has to be buried in one place and cannot be moved. She said that we would never come to visit so it didn't matter. But of course, I always go to visit. And what a pain in the ass, but let's be honest, when she made that decision it was not without thought. The irony is that her whole life she wanted nothing more than to be with her sisters. And in death, she sleeps forever with people who she never even liked -- except my dad.  When it snows or is incredibly hot, I still worry that my mother is not comfortable.

People get to decide their own fate.  So she did what she wanted to do knowing that the cousins would visit for as long as they could.  Here's the thing.  We have decided to be cremated. I want to be cremated like a cholent, with onions and carrots and potatoes and seasoning.  David doesn't care about the seasoning.  I want my ashes to be put into film cans and anyone that wants to be part of my ceremony should release my ashes in whatever place they would remember me.  I don't want anyone to have to come to a place to have an in depth conversation with me. And whenever I visit my parents,  I do have lengthy conversation with them.  It usually
starts this way, "Maaaa, where are you when I need you to answer important life death questions. Like, are you still playing cards with the aunts?"

It gives me comfort to know that my cousins are checking to make sure everything in the cemetery is in order.  Dad has perennial care but I pay for Mom yearly because when I,m gone there is no one else who will go, and the cemetery, (whether you have care through eternity or  yearly care) doesn't take care of the graves, unless they are right in the front-- which we are not.

I feel sure my cousins Lovey and Suzy will send my love and do all the right things. And at some point I will get there to ask  more questions that go unanswered. But that's the way it was meant to be. And yes Ma, I always feel guilty, and that's the way it was meant to be.  We're Just Sayin'....Iris

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Comfort Zone - Chicago

The Chicago Musical Theater Festival seemed a perfectly reasonable place to position “Gefilte
Fish Chronicles — the Musical”. Lots of theaters, lots of talent, and not too costly for a festival — if you live and work in Chicago. But for GFC, there is a Comfort Zone. And if we have our director  (Emily Maltby) and the man who orchestrated the music (James Higgins) we feel OK about using local creative and admin people. And they were great (Jermaine Hill, and Stephen
Kossak). There no shortage of local talent. Our cast is amazing. There was some kind of
misunderstanding and one of the lead actors can not perform in the last production, so it looks
like we may have to cancel that.  As Matty and Emily say, three solid performances is better
than three solid performances and one lame show.

When we arrived in Chicago, we had rented an apartment through CraigsList which turned out
to be a hoax. It was an expensive hoax and I lost $4000— which was 3/4 of our budget. I spent
two stressful days on the phone and couldn’t find anything, when I happened upon the Guest
House on Clark.   Sara, who does the booking, was amazing. She not only understood our
predicament but as a part-time Stage manager, she felt our pain. They gave us a beautiful
apartment at a most reasonable rate. Having travelled all over the world, I can honestly say that
when you are tired and stressed, there is nothing better than being welcomed by family and
being able to collapse into a comfortable space.

In their book of hotel facts there are actually terrific restaurants that deliver, and if you are tired
and have had nothing but a frustrating day, a hotel like this is a priority. And they are pet friendly.
They loved Tyrone. Even though his favorite thing was to throw the pillows on the couch in the
lobby off the couch. Throwing pillows, being couch or bed, is on the top of his favorite list. Here
is what I will say, there are probably more luxurious places to stay, but there are none that are
so well equipped, friendly and comfortable. And as a bonus, they are very close to Andersonville which has some of the best restaurants in the city.

If you are going to Chicago, think the Guest House at 4872 N Cark. You won’t be sorry. We’re

just sayin…. Iris

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

"the Best Tradition of US politics...." Geo. Bush

In 1992, when we watched the Republican Convention, (which we did so we could get a feeling for who they were), but they spent a great deal of time talking about how the Democrats were not Americans. It was outrageous. I called a few friends, Paul Sullivan, Eric Sklar, Alicia Smith, and Brenda Marks in Dallas— just to see if they found it equally appalling, and no surprise, they did.

But what were we going to do?  We didn’t know exactly what to do but we figured our pal Ron Brown, (Aunt Peppy would say “Blessed Memory”) who was Chair of the Party would have some ideas. But he thought we already knew what we were going to do, so he asked how much ‘this thing” (he didn’t really want to know) was going to cost?  And I said, for no good reason, $165,000.  Sully said something about taking on the whole Republican party, and I agreed.

When we got to the street, Sullivan said, OK big shot, exactly what are we going to do. And we had a good laugh. The next day the candidate  — the first George Bush, said it was unlikely that he would participate in a debate.  And there it was…. Chickens.  Why Chickens?  First of all they are funny.  And I remembered that during some NY Senate campaign, the nutty advance people planned to release live chickens at the opposition’s big event. That never worked,  but I felt confident that we could send costumed chickens to Bush events with double sided signs, that said poultry supports Bush on one side but as soon as they got into the event they would turn it and it would say, “Bush is a chicken because he won’t debate.”

Our message directed independent campaign, continued to appear at Bush rallies, until one day the President talked to our poultry.  As you can imagine, it got press coverage and we never had to send our chickens out again. (“The President Talked to a Chicken”)  Other people got it and sent their own chickens.  We roasted a chicken, and transitioned to Pinocchio’s, then the “Harry Truman Truth Squad,” and finally “Witch George Bush.”  Those were our costumed characters but there was no end to the Anti-Bush messages we developed. And just so you know, George Bush is a very classy guy.  We never interrupted him or were we ever disrespectful. In fact, he passed a note to one of the chickens that said, “To the Clinton-Gore folks   
You guys did it right  For your team- but polite
and in the best tradition of U.S.  politics.   Don’t
work too hard against me!  Thanks.... George Bush”  

That’s the one posted on my Facebook page.

Anyway, Our day began with a conference-comedian-meeting-call in the AM and putting together comedy writers from all over the country.  The majority of people who worked with us would have been considered dinosaurs, but we were experienced political message people — which is why we were so successful.  There’s lot’s more but you’ll have to pay for the rest.  So what should we do this political year … we have some ideas.  We’re just sayin’… Iris