Friday, July 28, 2017

Your MOM!

In our youth my eight aunts never let a opportunity pass to present us with words of wisdom.  Aunt Fritzy and Aunt Helen were persistent in their advice about how we presented ourselves publicly. As an aside, there were no warnings to the male cousins, just the girls.  Some of my favorites were “ never forget your background and breeding,” and another was, “it doesn’t matter how inexpensive your jewelry was because it all depends on who is wearing it”.  The other  item of particular interest presently is that in my family the pet names for body parts were incredibly colorful, but not until the past two days did I realize how colorful they were.  The pet for the vagina was “mooch.”

Moving on, if you are the kind of person who, when you used bad words, your mother would threaten to wash your mouth out with soap, or if you aspire to be a human rights advocate, do not turn on tv, go on your computer or read the news today. The Mooch’s profanities were off the charts, and Trump decided to forbid TransGender individuals to serve in the military.  We knew all the time that the senior administration was peopled with racists and bigots,  but when I hear some of their rhetoric,  like this statement is followed by “he’s playing to his base,”  I am seriously  discouraged by the fact that his base is 35% of the voting public — this means 35% of this country (you may remember it as “land of the free and home of the brave,  are also bigots and racists.)  That,  as some say, “stops me in my tracks.”  Some of them are even my friends. Geez. Let’s change the subject this is too depressing.

Yesterday a few of my college girlfriends came to spend the afternoon, evening, and morning in N.Y.C.   We have known one another for more than 50 years.  We do not talk everyday or even every month, but we have kept our connection since we were seventeen. People change and so who knows what our lives have been like, but one common element is that we have all lost our mothers.  Some of us more recently than the others, but that kind of loss doesn’t go away.  Mothers and daughters, is a never-ever and uncomplicated relationship.  Some of us have daughters and my guess is that those relationships are not uncomplicated either. As you can imagine, there were many questions asked and answered.

One thing we talked about were 3 options when you are dealing with adult children and probably more. You could offer to  help them cut down the tree.  Or you could offer advice, this time you make suggestions about how to use a saw, but only if they want you too. The third option is to say, “you had a hard week, I’ll cut it down myself.”   My tendency is to rush in and  do it myself rather than wait for my child to do it. I operate much faster than most people.  And it appears when I want something done, I’m usually the only one who cares about it.  Like cleaning off the counters in the kitchen.  Or cleaning out the fridge, making the beds, and keeping the dog  food bowl, and water dish filled.  If your children  are sloppy as children, they most likely will be slobs when they grow up. But at some point that is no longer your business. If you do everything for them they will never be able to do anything for themselves.  As parents we want more for our kids than we had. We convince ourselves we are always doing the right thing. For example,  when we told them they were ‘fantastic,’ we never let them lose, and we fought many of their youthful battles.  Ha, Then we wonder how  we produced a generation of entitled kids. And God only knows what their kids will be like. 

Back to my college pals, all have kids and one confessed that her mother never let her do anything. So when she had children she never told her kids what to do. When we all lived in the dorm we spoke to our parents maybe once a week and only if we could  hot wire the pay phone in the hall. They didn’t expect anything more than that one call.  We didn’t  expect much from our parents, except maybe a check. What do our kids expect from us?  See how you do answering some questions.  What was the favorite thing that your mother did?  Did you like as well as love your mother?  How did other people feel about our mom?  What do you see of your mom in yourself. My mother always sparkled, which was often an embarrassment. Her style was flamboyant.  She was pretty funny sometimes but her sense of humor was questionable. However, she was busy so  she let me do anything I wanted to do — short of something dangerous. Which was never out of the question. 

What do you think Trump children think about the chaos and profanity. Maybe they don’t care or they are numb to it. Maybe they should wash their father’s mind out with soap. Or maybe they are so entitled that they are just having fun being in charge of the government without knowing anything. Oye, If they didn’t care about pussy, we can be sure they don’t care about the Mooch.  We’re just sayin’…. Iris

Sunday, July 23, 2017

No Problem!

Exactly when did people start saying “no problem” instead of 'you’'re welcome?'  I am not surprised when I hear, 'no problem' from kids, but it is curious when you hear it from adults who you know were taught to say “you are welcome.”

What does “no problem” mean. I.believe it's worth exploring. Kind of like kibitka, unless it's not like kibitka. It doesn't surprise me that you don't know kibitka, unless you played dictionary and then you would know everything. A kibitka is an old Russian wagon. However, one night in a serious Dictionary game I defined it as “a miraculous recovery. “ 
Yiddish speakers will tell you that one of the most remarkable things about the language is that the words sound like what they are, like kvetch -- where  you often elongate the middle “eh.”  Let’ take that trip down “let’s pretend memory lane.”  Someone does something nice for you.  Say a gentleman holds your chair when you are  about to sit. (Yeah, like that will ever happen).  You say thank you. He says, “no problem”. You say:
“If it were a problem, would you have still done it?”
What exactly would have made it a problem?
Honestly, if I had thought it would be a problem I would have insisted you not walk all the way over here, stood behind my chair, waste 20 maybe 30 seconds of your precious time to pull that chair back, pause, and push the chair back in.
4.  You are a thoughtful person. Thank you.

He would have said, 
“You are welcome” indicating that he was happy you acknowledged his kindness.
“No problem”, meaning, it was no trouble and I enjoyed being kind. Or “it was my pleasure”.
Hey, just one moment. I really like, “it was my pleasure”, meaning I enjoyed showing you a bit of kindness in these crazy days when people are likely to be mean, nasty or incredible selfish.

Are you trying to figure out what I am talking about but you’re not quite there? Stick around because we are going for a wild ride.

Why is it that when you put “THE” in front of something it is supposed to make it more important or significant.  Take for example when someone refers to Yale, as “The Yale”  does that change your entire perception of the importance of the school?  Who knows, but people name the towns in which they live in the same way.  Like “The Caldwells” or their cousins “The Oranges”. Today we saw a sign for “THE Yorks”.  Are they related to “the New Yorks” or did they break off from the family centuries ago and go north.  Geography is something we don't study anymore. Not that knowing where The Caldwells are will ever change your life, but the “THE” is the issue.  Suppose we called Trump, “The Trump.” how would that make you feel, more or less intimidated?  Not that he needs much help trying to intimidate folks, but do you think you would like “THE” Trump more or less than you do now.

Back to “My pleasure.”  This morning when I got up I wanted to call Carl Wagner. These were the best conversations ever because he would be dazzled by the sheer incompetence of the White House and he would explain it in a way that made you feel foolish about not seeing that for yourself.  These are the times I feel at my loneliest.  Like when I want to call Steve Daley for a laugh about the political insanity. Aunt Peppy for a recipe, or my mother to impart some of her ridiculous wisdom, (never throw anything at a pregnant woman because the  mice will eat your  clothes). Or Ronnie Wilde to get me out of trouble. There is no longer anyone to answer the call.  The list goes on.  Sorry for that moment of poignancy amidst all the insanity.

To tell you the truth, it is impossible to comment on what happens everyday, every hour.  For six months he has called the NYTimes fake news and then he gives them a two hour interview  where he says he shouldn’t have hired old “lock her up”.  Then late yesterday he was checking to see if he could pardon himself and his entire family. Huh? What does it all mean.  It gives me a headache just trying to keep up. What will happen today? Will we discover there was  a ninth person at that infamous meeting.  I figure in a few weeks we will find out that the meeting was so big and foolish it was held in a circus tent where all the clowns were active participants.

Gee wilikers. (What is a wiliker)?  Oh, now I remember.  It is a word used when you are totally out of anything else to say, like THE END.  No problem.  We’re just sayin’…..Iris

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Here! Frisky!! Hear! Frisky!!

Last night my brother called to say Richard Jones, our next door neighbor 55 years ago  sent him a picture of our old dog Frisky.  Wow. Frisky. When I got up this morning I couldn't wait to get to the computer. Frisky, oh Frisky, there were tears in my eyes. Ok we only had Frisky for maybe two weeks, but I loved him without conditions. But when I looked at the pic I thought, who was this cute black puppy who was clearly going to grow up to be a monster. Frisky was a collie. We got her from the Marazities who lived across the street from Aunt Fritzie. Actually, that may be how he got the name. We substituted Frisky for Fritzie.  Jeff texted me to  insist that the black dog was Frisky.  I called my cousin Stevie, who also got a puppy from that litter. He confirmed that we got collies and almost immediately gave them to Helen Costello, who was kind enough to take them and who knows where they went from there.  Stevie also shared that when Aunt Fritzie asked  my cousins Honey and Marty how big their Great Dane was going to be, they said, ‘not too big.’  This was clearly a lie, but they didn’t live in Boonton so they thought she would never see it.  There is no way she wasn’t going to visit Honey (who was, after all, her daughter) , who was pregnant. Imagine her surprise when she opened the door.

                                                                Jeff's dog Cooper

Neither my mother nor any of her seven sisters liked pets.  In fact, my mother never called Frisky a puppy or good boy, or sweetie.  She referred to them as animals who should get away from her. It was one sentence.  “That animal needs to get away from me.”  My dad was a little more tolerant, but he was always working in New York and the time he got home, Frisky was outside in his dog house.  We were lucky if they let the puppy in the house, which did not happen frequently.  My mother would say, “Jewish people weren’t good with animals,” and that was that.  Whenever there was something she didn’t want to do -m “Jewish people didn’t do it.”   He was better off with Helen Costello who was Catholic.

Frisky was not our only pet.  There is no way to answer the question, then why did she let us have a parakeet names Tweety. (Awwwww). Tweety was an average animal (my mother’s description), who played nicely in his little gage.  Jeff  and I were responsible for cleaning the bird cage and feeding our little Tweety.  It is unclear when it happened, but Tweety’s behavior  became erratic.  When a parakeet is unusually frantic, and won’t stop tweeting, you know there’s a problem.  So at least my mother thought there was a problem.  Off to the pet store with the bird to discover what the problem was.  Turns out, Tweety had a nervous breakdown.  Jeffrey insisted he did nothing but he was too young to remember exactly what he did with Tweety.  From that time and maybe until I went to college there were no pets allowed,  except fish which were still animals, but not intrusive.  Also they all looked alike and could easily be replaced with another identical fish.  But children know.

Speaking of parakeets, David’s cousin had a parakeet which, when let out of the cage, flew on it’s side.  Can you picture a side flying parakeet. Eventually it got confused enough to fly into a wall.  Who wouldn’t?  David’s pet history was much more reasonable.  His parents called his puppies by their actual names.  They had the usual problems, Poor Sweet Baby and Schuster - aka - the Black Dink, were a part of their family. They might not have been allowed in the children’s beds, but they weren’t relegated to the outdoors full time.

                                        At the Burnetts: Billy Whiskers naps with Dagmar

Oh, eventually Honey’s Great Dane went to live with Frieda, (a very very close friend of my mom’s  (like a sister, but liked animals). Lillian, who lived with Aunt Frieda happily agreed to feed and walk Shreddney Vashti — the Great Dane.  Lillian was about 4’8”.  In reality, that meant that SV walked Lillian.  It was pretty colorful to watch, and we did.  Tina and I watched until we laughed so hard we cried  as SV dragged  Lil around the blocK.  You may know that Great Danes are not the healthiest of dogs. SV died young and Lil was heartbroken but they never got another animal. Jewish people just don’t do that. Tyrone - One of America's Great Puppies
My first puppy was a rescue dog, named Sherman, who used to sit under a desk and bite people who came to our house or got into our car — if he was already inside.  I couldn’t take him when I got divorced because I lived in a car. However, when I bought my house in DC there was an irresistible Soft coated Wheaten puppy who was irresistible and insisted I adopt him. Earnest La Lekish de Q, was a wonderful friend. Unfortunately, I was allergic to him so he went to live with a wonderful family in New Jersey.  Which brings us up to date until Tyrone.  Tyrone Baloney never leaves me alone. Ty is a mixed breed, part Bichon part Poodle. He is the best puppy you can imagine.   It was not my plan to buy a puppy when we were looking for the kind we wanted. But then the owner was carrying this little white frizz ball with two black eyes around the store, and that was it.  The Groman kids, me and Jeff,  love dogs. Jeff has had a number of mixed breed big dogs and I small shaggy friends.  It turns out that having a puppy is exactly what Jewish people do.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Tyrone - at an early age....

Earnest La Lekish: having a studious afternoon --

Pay No Attention!!

More laugh riots,  or riots of laughs.  Complaints are not on my list of everyday behavior, however, when I went to the hospital to have the staples removed from my head, I was carrying my walker, which does not have wheels, so I can walk faster without it. By the way, the nurse said they remove the staples with a staple remover like you have in your office. They do and I have the pics to prove it.

We have decided to entertain ourselves by communicating in Trump speak.  For example, David will ask me if I’m hungry, and I respond, “Yes I am, unless I’m not.”  Try it as an answer to any question you are asked, like “Do you want to go for a ride?” and the response is, “Yes, of course, unless I don’t.”  Simple questions are easy but complicated questions not so much.  Like how do you feel about the State Department eliminating the Office of Human Rights and the office that deals with Cyber communication. Bet you didn’t know that, but if we are not going to have human rights in this country (as judged by the collection of “voter fraud” info) why should we be fussy about it in other countries?)  How do you even start?   Or, how about this one. We are no longer going to sell arms and supplies to the Syrian opposition because the Russians don’t want us too.  Are you stymied yet?

There are black and blue marks on my body that are seriously frightening. My arms and legs are the color of a ripe plum, which is nice on a plum but not on an actual persons body.  Enough whining! 

If Donald Trump thinks the NYTimes delivers fake news, why did he do a sit-down interview with them.  It may be that he no longer has any touch with reality.  This may be the only explanation for his erratic behavior.  If I were any of his playmates it might be time to “head for the hills.”  The most colorful element of all this Presidential “faldiraw” (is that how you spell silly?),  is that the news media (aka “fake news”), is starting to laugh at this unPresident.  Here’s what I know. The most effective way to get a response from any person in power is ridicule.  When we crafted the chicken campaign or the duck campaign the idea was to make fun of the opposing candidate — in a respectful way but always with humor. Hence the 6 foot chickens during the Clinton campaign and the big duck with the “release your taxes” song.  If the DNC had stayed out of the duck effort during the Trump campaign, it would have been successful. Take a look if you want a good laugh -

During a Presidential campaign the people who are involved often have severe personality change.  Everyone wants to be the last one out of the office because they 1. Don’t want anything important to happen in their absence. 2. They don’t want to be perceived as slacking off.   As a result, they get tired and testy and most importantly, they lose their sense of humor.  Unfortunate, because if you don’t have a sense of humor about politics, you will drive yourself and others nuts.  You have to be able to laugh.  And when you start laughing, it is easy to see the faults of your opponent. Whatever plans you have to defeat your opposition, are more likely to succeed if it has a point, and is funny. 

No kidding now, I am afraid for our children. This President, who has lost touch with reality and who has no moral core, thinks nothing about eliminating environment protection laws led by anti-science people, programs for children, women, and the elderly (of which i am fast becoming) and agreeing to compromise the U.S. position in the world in order to make our enemies happy.  It would be interesting to be privy to how his mind works.  How does he get from A to Z without ever acknowledging L, Q, and W.  If I were looking for one sentence from a movie to best describe  what everyone in this great country should remember would be from “The Wizard of OZ”.

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” 

Liars and idiots and fears, Oh My!

We’re just sayin’….Iris

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"I Have Done More Than....."

“I have done more than any President, unless you count the other Presidents who did more.”
“And my inaugural crowd was bigger than any other President, unless it wasn’t.”
“I have put more people back to work in mines, unless Obama actually did that. “
“I have no relationship with the Russians, unless I do.”
“My son would never do anything illegal, unless he did.”
“Americans should produce & buy products in America, except me and Ivanka.”
“Meetings with the Russians means nothing, unless it might.”
“Oh it’s so easy to disavow what the President does, except when you can’t.” 

What exactly does the President do during the week?   Most days he has nothing on his schedule. Does he sleep late and than wake up for a pithyless  tweet.  OK THERE IT IS, the President tweets. But what else?  He has been absent for the healthcare negotiations.  He has been unavailable for questions about the cruelty of the Medicaid cutbacks, except he thinks its “mean” — but not “mean” enough to actually get involved  His lack of involvement with the American people, (other than rich people) is stunning. 

Is there anything we can do?  Probably not. Although if the behavior of sonny boy and sonny boy in-law leads to their security clearance taken away, it presents a serious problem for the President, who has only family as his confidantes.  What the hell was Sean Spicer thinking today when he spoke about the infamous meeting being about adoption. (He is incapable of thinking).

I call on every clear thinking American to look at the history of embellishments and lies, to insist the President step up to the plate and tell the truth. With that said, it is unproductive to keep piling on with all the stupid, politically uneducated, vile crap from the White House. It makes it easier to accuse the media of being fake news.

Donald Trump is a danger and a political idiot but the truth is the Democrats seem incapable of doing anything about it.  We need a Democratic leader (if you know one, send me contact info ASAP!)   Obviously, we need to be able to answer a few important questions and change the rhetoric.

Let's not ever use the term "entitlements" again to speak of Soc. Security.  We need an alternative, whether it be specific, like "earned income" for years of hard work, or more general like "human decency”, or "the right thing to do.”  We need to address the lack of humanity in the things the Republicans want to eliminate, like programs for children and the elderly, clean air, water, public education, you know the list.

We need a health care plan that replicates the health care bill the Congress gets.  It puts us in a place where we can pose the question (more elegantly "why do YOU deserve it but UNELECTED Americans don’t?")

We need to craft a paper about who the Democrats are or should be.  They are not people who repeal first and worry about what happens later.  I think we waste our time talking about the fact that Trump et al are morons, rather start talking about "US" as the alternative.  Who are we? I think the George McGovern,  “what it means to be a Democrat,” would be helpful.

Attacks on the media, and the intelligence and security agencies is very stupid. How do we embrace them... and the veterans in a real way. 

It would be terrific to put together an unlikely strategy group, people who are unrecognized “leaders."   This does not include the present DNC leadership because there is none. We don't need to spend anytime debating present legislation or what they have done.  True  leaders travel their own road with their own ideas.  The big question is, how do we create jobs HERE for people -- how do we train our workforce for the future. How do we fulfill the promises of future care for those who have paid into the system for decades?   It's not enough to just make a list of past Democratic accomplishments, no matter how important. We need to talk about what we want the future to look like for our children and every child who is growing up in this country.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

Monday, July 17, 2017

Me Thinkest Not

It’s not funny to have an injury of any kind but as I have said many times, you have to have a sense of humor about life and whatever it brings. Last Friday, when I was about to walk Ty, I missed the last step and went down.The wall my head went into won the battle.  My cousin described it in ballet terms, which was very funny, but I went to the hospital, stayed overnight and they put six staples in my head.  My ankle looks like an elephant trump — not like the President he’s a horses ass. Anyway there were cute male nurses and young doctors in the emergency room so it was fun to be there.  However, they insisted on taking me to go to a room. Not as much fun, but nice people.  It was an overnight observation that  took an extra day because releasing me took another day.  When we got home David plugged in the heating pad and all the lights went out in the house and it appears, in the entire neighborhood.  David went out and looked around. There was an accident somewhere, lines were down, and 2500 people were denied their light.  Obviously, it wasn’t a heating pad, but that was also funny.  This morning we went to the orthopedist.  Oh, I forgot I was getting around in an office desk chair with wheels, that was also funny.  Especially when David let go of the chair and I started to roll backward.  “It’s Ok” I said, “It will stop when I get to Joan’s.”  (My cousin who lives at the bottom of the hill.)  Moving on, a bit of a not good pun, The Doc gave me a boot for my ankle and hooray, I can get around.  I’m fine, just a little tired from pushing myself around in an office chair.   

NPR and PBS both printed or read the Declaration of Independence and the reaction from Trump supporters was that it was liberal garbage from the fake media.  Who are these people that never took a history or civics class.  OMG.  There are so many Trump supporters who don’t  understand what Medicad  is. What it means  to them, their children and elderly parents.  They don’t get that Medicare is not an entitlement, that it is earned money for working so hard during their working years. It is hard  to write about this guy without calling him names.  And that makes me sad because during all my years in politics and government I always respected the Presidency… I didn’t have to like the President.  But Trump doesn’t respect the Presidency so how can anyone else?

This is going to be an eclectic blob. 

It has been a difficult few weeks what with losing another dear friend and having my dearest tootsie in the hospital (My cousin Deb), so I have been a little distracted which may explain my klutzy behavior, or it may be I’m just a klutz.  And speaking of klutz’s, how does anyone think that Trump, his kids, and his friends, are operating on the level with the American people.  People wanted a change but this?  Deception, lies, and incompetence?  He has been in office for some 25 weekends and has spent all but five at his properties.  One at Camp David.  Being in DC is part of the job description. There has never been a commuter President. Yes, for years President’s didn’t have the ability or lack of moral core to stay at luxury resorts every weekend, but doesn’t his constituency kind of wonder what’s real about this guy.  This week is his “Made in America” week.  But neither he, nor Ivanka, nor any member of the “fam”  have their products made in America.  It’s such a farce.  How does he do this stuff and keep a straight face. He actually thinks that “the bigger the lie, the likelihood of people believing it, increases.”  Me thinkest not. Maybe people who have a moral core and are capable of analytical thinking don’t actually know how to  achieve success. Is this what we what to teach our children, lying works better than the truth? Me thinkest not. Truly, sometimes lying is more advantages, but the right thing to do?  Me thinkest not. Maybe if you are among the rich you think there is a dispensation from telling the truth.  Me thinkest not.

Me thinkest many things. Not all of them correct, but all of them meant with the best intentions and hopefully filled with humor.  We’re Just Sayin’….Iris

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

On July 4th, 2017

I think it struck me when I saw a reference to "it's 241 years since the Declaration of Independence...." and it freaked me out a little bit, as I remember with great clarity the Bi-Centennial, and the verve and energy which accompanied so many events of that year (duh... yea we're talking 1976.) I was in the first year of working with Bob Pledge and our new agency -- Contact Press Images' official start date was in April '76 I think, and at that point the world was still our oyster, as magazine photographers. The marketplace of photojournalism was so different from today: there were magazines (for me, principally Newsweek & TIME) who wanted to beat the competition every week, and they had both pages and budgets with which to try and do so. It meant that if you came to an editor with an idea that was even remotely serviceable, and it could result in a story or more importantly, in the raising of a story from 'ordinary' to 'color act,' the money would be there for you to give it a go. And the money was always accompanied by enthusiasm, the kind of enthusiasm for the work which I think they try to imbue in students at J-school (I never went.. so it's just a guess.) Working with those TIME and Newsweek correspondents was usually a treat. They were smart, well-informed, savvy about how to act in weird places, and very often well connected, so you didn't spend too much of your precious time just trying to get your bearings on the ground.

By contrast, the technology available to us was so much less sophisticated than today's world as to seem almost laughable. This was the period pre- cellphone, pre-internet, pre-computer, pre-cable tv. Our cameras shot film, and when you looked at the back of your camera, the most you would ever see would be the end label from a Kodachrome box to remind you what film was inside. The one thing we never left behind was a small Sony shortwave radio. With your little Sony (and for some reason, as the technology kept changing and smaller radios would appear on the market - my Sygma pal Jean-Pierre Laffont would always have the tiniest, most compact of shortwaves) you could bring in BBC World Service ("... at the sound the chimes of Big Ben, it will be 19 hundred hours, Greenwich Mean Time....") or VOA (Voice of America) and find out what was actually happening in the world. Very often, as happened several times in Iran during the Revolution, I would hear about something on BBC that was happening five minutes from my hotel, and would never otherwise have known about it. ) Keeping in touch on the Sony was the one lifeline you had when you were otherwise in some colorful but remote place (Quetta, Ayers Rock, Canon City Colorado...) making pictures for a future day.

I remember being in Tokyo in late June, and into early July of 1976. The night of July 4, I'd gone to a disco with some journo friends, and we got back to the hotel very, very late. Even now it feels like it must have been 3 in the morning or so. Back in the room, I flipped on the TV (which had all of about 4 channels), and watched the Tall Ships sail at their inordinately slow pace through the New York harbor. It was far more a still picture than it was a dynamic "tv" image. Yet it was the culmination of all those pre-BiCentennial events and celebrations. Standing in a hotel room in the middle of the night, watching a scratchy b/w image on tv seems, in retrospect, like such a different time ago. It was as if the age of film was its own kind of an age of innocence, and once the digital image, and its many creators were unleashed upon society, things would never be the same. Everyone with a phone is a photographer. And there are still some actual photographers roaming around the world taking photographs with the incredible current crop of digi cams. And while we try to keep and maintain all those digital pictures, there is something still a little disruptive about NOT having negs and slides - things you can hold in your hand - physical manifestations of our photographs. I don't really expect to be here in another 41 years, though you never know, but I suspect that the love and joy we had for our pals Kodachrome and Tri-x from those years at the end of the 20th century will have transformed yet again into something that none of us photographers can even ponder. I sure hope it's as much fun as I've had these forty one years. We're just sayin'...   David

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Adieu Carl Wagner

There is no good time to lose a friend. Sometimes you know they are sick and have a warning. Other times it comes from nowhere and your response is simply screaming “Oh My God!” as many times as possible because you don’t believe it is possible for that person not to be around, or even more disturbing to know you will never see them again.  For people who have worked primarily in Presidential politics and because we usually see one another every four years, you think it would be easier.  The time apart  doesn’t make us love one another any less, it’s just a reality.  We sometimes lose touch during the four years, but when we see each another, it’s like no time passed.  With Carl Wagner it was a little different.

With Carl, everything was different.  (“Coulter, Coulter  what is your 7/8?”) — don’t try to figure it out. If you know, you know, if not,  just move on).  Carl was a wild man. Not in any negative way — although there were people who didn’t like him. But he had not time for negative people or negativism about anything he thought would work to move a campaign forward. Not everyone thought he was a genius, but the few of us who did were always anxious to hear his next idea. And inevitably we would somehow wind up involved.   No matter how nuts.

A few months before the campaign season, which was shorter for us dinosaurs, then it is  now, he would call me, we would meet for lunch and he would start in the same way “So what are we going to do for this next campaign.  There were usually a few would-be candidates who had announced.   If not, Carl would still know who they would be. We would go thru his list of potential Presidents and he would muse about their capabilities. One year he managed to convince me I should work for the actor (Tom Laughlin)  who played Billy Jack.  One year we decided that since we didn’t like anyone,  we would run Lee Iacocca —without his permission. Lee was not happy.  In fact he was adamant about not running.  But you could only work for candidates who were unannounced. We raised substantial funds and spent it on lovely lunches and dinners where we talked about what might have been.  Then he convinced me to work for Ross Perot — just to see what it would be like. It wasn’t like a campaign. They picked me up in a limo and put me up in a nice hotel.  After 10 hours I quit.  We always had a great laugh — at  my expense.  

In 1992 we decided that we should coordinate all the Democratic Primary Debates,  We called ourselves Debates 92.  We convinced the  Networks we had total access to the candidates, and the candidates believed we had total access to Networks.  With the help of Eric Sklar and Sara Farnsworth we hired our own people to represent each candidate so consequently, for once,  there was no  personal staff drama. OK The candidates almost came to blows, but that was no big deal.  We had such chutzpah. 

Back to the 70’s briefly. Carl was gorgeous.  Every woman in every campaign was smitten.  Once when we were in Philadelphia I had to share a room with him. It was so intimidating, I went to sleep at 8pm and ignored any meeting I was supposed to have. I shared that  story with him at some point and he said, “that’s why we’re still friends.”  His wife was amazing and Alex (his daughter was breathtaking.  When we learned that the Alex on MSNBC (and now CBS)  was “our Alex” we all carried on like she was ours.  Carl was so proud.  We talked about how brilliant she was, and of course, how she had Carl’s street smarts. He did admit she was much nicer than he was.  But nice was not something we looked for in a Carl campaign — when he was thinking it was always fascinating. Yep, sometimes he was a God and sometimes he was an asshole because he wouldn’t take care of himself.  

Those of us who considered ourselves  friends of Carl’s loved him, envied  him, trusted him, counted on him, and worried about him all the time.  Those who were his friends knew we would hear from him or he would also call us back.  He was the first person in my phone contacts, so every time I butt dialed, it was to him.  And he would simply say, “I guess it’s that time to get together” …. and we usually did.  Trouble simply wasn’t as much fun if Carl was not a part of it.

I will miss you my friend, try to rest in Peace, which we all know will be difficult for you.  We’re just sayin’.. Iris