Anyone who says the suburbs are quiet must live in the city. Even here, which falls on the country side of suburban, complete silence is rare. In fact incomplete silence is rare. I’m not talking about the pleasant sounds of birds, crickets, peepers, and cicadas. I’m talking about machines.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is.
Spring and Summer?
I grew up on city sounds, where the noise, other than honking horns and sirens, is more of constant, a type of noise that one grows so accustomed to that it is no longer heard. As for sirens – up here we not only have the sirens sounding from ambulances, police cars, and fire engines, we have the air raid type siren that summons the volunteer firemen and EMTs.
And oh yes, then there’s the mother of all sirens, the ear-piercing Indian Point nuclear power plant alert siren that is tested regularly. These are mounted in strategic spots in every town within a wide radius of the plant, and take it from me, if you happen to be next to the one in the shopping center in Peekskill, if you survive a nuclear meltdown, you’ll do so with impaired hearing!
But back to the ubiquitous leaf blowers, I don’t think I ever saw one until I moved back to New York from California. I do remember when I lived in San Jose, reading how Palo Alto wanted to outlaw leaf blowers, and wondering what the fuss was about. I guess that’s because my neighborhood had lots of shrubs but few trees. Someone down the street had a cluster of palm trees on their lawn, and everyone had a city-planted curb strip tree, but leaves they shed could easily be wept up with a broom.
Then I moved back to NY, (in the fall, wouldn’t ya know!) and rented an apartment in a private house in Harrison, a town of massive trees. Being home all day until I found a job, I was treated to the full effect of lawn blowers underneath my windows every Tuesday when the gardener made his rounds.
But I hadn’t seen anything . Those days were quiet compared to up here – where it seems everyone and his brother has a
– the bigger and more macho the better. They run them in spring to clear away any trees who bit the dirt, or I guess I should say bit the snow (or vice versa) over the winter. Then they power them up again in summer and fall, to cut up those same logs to burn through the winter.
Oh, and did I mention
Before I even open my eyes, I can tell if there’s been, as the utility company gently puts it, a power interruption over night. These little generators produce more noise than they do power!
But come once a year, I get my revenge when I power wash my deck each spring!
And tee hee, bonus! This week I hauled it out a second time to power wash the house. But I’m all done, and as soon as these babies dry, out they’ll be back in the shed –until next year.
My father used to chide me for having to get the last word all the time. To which I’d reply “No, I don’t.” Well this time I think I’m getting the first word in, or at least I believe I am, since I haven’t heard it discussed on TV nor read it in the paper. The word is branding and it’s my opinion on why Donald J. Trump is running for president.He wants to brand the presidency, put his name on it.
Trump wine, Trump steaks, Trump University. Like a dog who lifts his leg to mark everything in sight, the man has an egotistical compulsion to put his name on everything he sees. During the course of the primaries, it was brought to the attention of the press that while he really does own Trump Tower and the failing Trump casinos, many of the other enterprises merely paid him to use his name – a win/win situation for all involved, except the innocent people who spent their money on any of his brands.
While he has managed to muster enough votes to become the Republican candidate, he has also garnered criticism for not having a plan. This ties in with my branding idea. He has no plan because he doesn’t need one. If he gets in, he intends to leave running the government up to other people, his board members, so to speak.
I came upon an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine a few weeks back, a very long one, and as I made my way through it, I thought the author, Mark Leibovich was going to touch upon the branding concept. But the nearest he came, was mentioning at one point that”Trump has outsourced a great deal of the nitty-gritty of an enormous general election campaign” to the Republican National Committee. And a little further on, he cited Trump’s “willingness to outsource the conservative ‘idea’ architecture to Paul Ryan and like-minded Republicans.”
Then at the Democratic Convention last Wednesday night when President Obama declared “The Donald is not an ideas man,” he came close, but no cigar. And I held my breath on Thursday because Hilary came closest, when in the middle of her acceptance speech she assured us that “The family I came from did not put our name on buildings.” But again, nope, no B word.
Although Mr Leibovich may never have used the word, branding in his article, the picture accompanying it is worth a thousand words.
Has anyone seen the L’Oreal T-shirt commercial making the rounds on TV. No, let me re-phrase that – the skin care company isn’t selling T-shirts these days, they’re still pushing young-looking skin. The commercial points out how wearing one of your old concert t-shirts can give your age away. It certainly hit home. It even sent me searching through my t-shirt drawer for
The reason I had to search is that I never wear it because……because. Well, keep the premise of that commercial in mind. One picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case one T-shirt.
As if the date didn’t give away the fact that the shirt is 35 years old, take a look at the price of the tickets?
But wait, there’s still the story of what I had to go through to get the tickets. Hint – it involved starting the car. But for those not yet born on that day, let me describe what life was like before Stub Hub and Ticketmaster. Hell, before there was an internet!
It was about 9:30 AM or so when the phone rang – the kitchen phone on the wall – before there was such a thing as a cell phone. It was the man to whom I used to be married. His boss had just received a call from his daughter who had a summer job at KOME, the rather edgy local San Jose FM station. Nope, no such thing as Pandora or streaming. It was either AM or FM. (as in radio!) But back to the story….. Said daughter had just gotten the word tickets for the upcoming Stones convert would be going on sale at Tower Records at 11. The limit would be 6 tickets. He wanted to know if I could take some cash out of a dresser drawer (sigh, nope, no ATM’s yet) and dash down to Tower Records which was in Campbell, about a 20 minute drive as the crow flies from our apartment in Los Gatos. I could and I did!
With plenty of time to spare I got on the relatively short line of people outside the door and chatted amiably with a woman ahead of me, as the line steadily grew behind us and snaked around the corner. Yes, fancy that – talking to a stranger. Remember – no cell phones, no texting!
Well I bought my limit of six tickets and we sold the other four tickets to friends (at face value, no scalpers, we) and a happy time was had by all.
In writing this I realize that 35 years was a really relatively short period of time for life to change as much as it has, thanks to technology. Or no thanks to technology depending on how you feel about the turn life has taken.
I also realize that that T-shirt is the oldest article of clothing I own.
The recent death of Muhammad Ali’s saddened me as I realized yet another icon “with me” since the days of my youth has preceded me to whatever awaits us all some day. On a happier note, it also brought me back to some of my earliest and most treasured of memories of times with my dad. But then whenever I think of boxing I always think of Daddy. Daddy loved boxing which he always called prize fighting, and its participants were, of course, always referred to as prize fighters.
This particular trail had its starting point way back before Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, and perhaps since it was 1950 or 51, perhaps even before he put on his first pair of boxing gloves. Other little girls might remember their fathers teaching them to dance. I learned how to box. We’d spar and prance about the living, he constantly reminding me to “cover my face.”You see, I was the son he never had, until he did, that is. After my younger brother was born, he must have realized I was the daughter he did have, because he taught me how to do the Charleston. After my youngest brother was born, I was old enough for him to begin to worry about boys and he was probably glad he’d taught me how to box.
But back to when I had Daddy all to myself – Back then boxing, oops – prize fighting – was on TV every Wednesday night. And although I was only four years old and it didn’t come on until 10 PM, I was allowed to stay up to watch with him, as long as I took an afternoon nap.
One prize-fighter always had on white trunks and the other, black, or so I thought. Now I realize this may have been because it was on black and white TV. If you know me, you won’t be surprised to hear that I had loads of questions to ask and when my curiosity had been satisfied, loads to chatter about. And so Daddy established the rule that I could only talk when the Cheese Man came on. The “cheese man” was a cartoon-like figure whose head suggested a wheel of cheese and was perched on a stool and directing a TV camera. But instead of ABC or CBS, the side of the camera was emblazoned with the Kraft logo, Kraft being the sponsor of the Wednesday Night Fights.
Memories inevitably morph with time and so I know that one day, the Ali frozen in Parkinson’s disease will fade into the early Ali: Ali the greatest, Ali, the prettiest, the graceful butterfly floater, the lightning-quick bee stinger, just as in my Wednesday night memories, Daddy was young and vibrant and it would be 60 years before he too would be taken away by Parkinson’s. Memories are funny like that.
And I’ve discovered my prize fighting memories are not quite as they seem either. Take the Cheese Man. In Google fact checking my memory, I could find no reference of Kraft Cheese sponsoring Wednesday Night Fights, but I did find this on a website called Old Time Radio catalog
“The Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts were Wednesday night fights from 1948 through 1955. The show was on all three major radio networks over the years and was a popular part of the television lineup. The fights broadcasts originated from several arenas around the country and featured a number of title bouts.”
That’s when I realized I had to wait for the bell, and not the Cheese Man.Waiting for the Cheese Man was my mother’s rule – when she was watching the Kraft Television Theater.
Before I run my suggestion to the airline industry past you, allow me to vent a bit about their stupendous stupidity. Well, may be not all airlines, but American Airlines in particular.
Last Tuesday I was about to embark on a trip to a place that had risen to the top of my dwindling bucket list – Santa Fe, New Mexico. In an uncharacteristic example of orderliness, I’d packed my bags and placed them at the door. I knew exactly where all my paper work was, and had even parceled out Marcel and Marceau’s freeze-dried raw food in 14 containers so that all the pet sitter had to do was add water. I’d placed these in a snaplock storage box so Marble couldn’t get at them,
and placed Marble’s special canned food in the cat carrier so he also couldn’t get at them, either. Yes, they were unopened cans, but I’ve learned never to put anything past Marble.
I had just fed them and was ready to rinse their dishes and head out when the phone rang. And oh yes, may I had it was about 5:40 AM. My plane didn’t leave until 10:00, but LaGuardia Airport is a little over an hour away, and I had to park the car at an off site parking lot before taking their shuttle to the terminal.
I was just about to run water in the sink when the phone rang.
Recording: This is American Airlines with a change to your itinerary. Due to a delay for your connecting flight, you will be leaving from Newark at 12:15.
Me: NEWARK?!?!?!? I can’t go to Newark.
First of all, given NY/NJ traffic, there was no guarantee I could make it to Newark. And even if I could, I already had parking reservations at LaGuardia, and my traveling companion, who was flying from San Diego, was meeting me in Albuquerque at 3:30. Since her plane was getting in at 12:30, she was already waiting three hours as it was.
Recording: Press 1 to accept this change. Press 2 to reject it.
Me: pound pound pound (on 2 of course.)
Recording: Please wait for the next available agent.
Well, luckily at that time of morning, the next available was instant. The good news was she managed to get me on another flight from LaGuardia and my new connecting flight at Dallas/Fort Worth would actually get me to Albuquerque an hour earlier (if I could make the connection in an hour) The bad news was it was leaving at 9!
Well, I grabbed my bags ran to the car, like a bat out of hell, and actually made it to the airport on time. Ah, all was going well ——— until the pilot came on the PA.
Pilot: I don’t like the sound of one of the engines so I’ve called for maintenance to come and check it out. They’re on their way.
My seatmate: We only need one engine. Let’s go.
After nearly an hour, I was ready to agree with him.
We finally took off, and luck was finally with me. When I got to Dallas/Fort Worth, I learned that the plane going to Albuquerque was delayed, and I still had a chance to make it, even though I was at Gate B, and the plane would be leaving from Gate E. This involved going up the escalator and taking the SkyLink train. At gate E, I found out that not only was the flight delayed, the plane was taken out of service and they were “looking for another plane.”
Well, they finally found one, and it got me to Albuquerque, but not much earlier than the originally scheduled flight.
Fortunately, all went well. We had a wonderful three days in Taos, followed by a wonderful three days in Santa Fe, and my flights back to NY went like clock work.
Now, as to what all airlines do wrong………
Don’t you think it would be better to let the people sitting in the back of the plane (like me) board first? This would do away with the back-up in the aisle as the front people jam their carry-ons into the overhead bins.
It would also mean that the big wigs and fancy shmancies in First Class wouldn’t have to sit there so long as we peons filed past.
What do you think?
I am referring to Diana Ross of The Supremes, not the late Princess Diana. These days people comment on how “skinny” I am. Whether it’s a compliment or not is up to interpretation but, if it is, I have to give Ms Ross some of the credit – or blame – depending on how you look at it; and also to the 60s British supermodel Twiggy, although I don’t think there was such a thing back as a supermodel back in 1966 which is when this journey began. I know there is much concern these days about the detrimental effect ultra-thin models have on young girls’ body images and self-esteem. I don’t know if that was true in my case, nor if at age 18, I could be considered a young girl.
I had gone through the typical weight gain that is widely attributed to freshman year dorm living. I’m not sure what the catch term is – Freshman 15? I also am not sure that I gained 15 pounds, but what got me started, I guess, was my mother’s comment when I arrived home for the summer. “You’ve put on some weight,”coming from someone who always told me I looked fine just the way I was, definitely got my attention. So did the episode in the Alexander’s dressing room a few days later. I don’t remember what the garment was, but it was a size 13, my usual size at the time, and it was too tight.
I watched my weight all summer, but really got into it when I went back to school, a place I really did not want to be. The college was Ladycliff, a small Catholic women’s school that is no more, but when it was, was located on the banks of the Hudson in a small town named Highland Falls. By day two of Freshman year I’d realized that it was not my cup of tea, as did many of the young women who became my friends. Some of them were able to persuade their parents to let them transfer at the end of Freshman year. Others like me, weren’t as lucky. The former waved goodby and went to school with a more 60s vibe the rest of us bonded and forged deep friendships commiserating. But eventually we accepted our lot and concentrated on fun, and oh yes, our education.
Meanwhile I know, you’re wondering what does this have to do with Diana Ross?
Technically, I don’t know if I became anorexic, it was more a cycle of bingeing and starving, so I guess it was a bulimia anorexia hybrid, although I never forced my self to throw up. Since then, I’ve read that eating disorders stem from a feeling of having no control over one’s life. And that’s how I felt back at Ladycliff for sophomore year.
I’d always loved the Supremes, and they were at the peak of their popularity, and since it was also the time of Ed Sullivan Show and weekly shows like Hullabaloo that showcased all the popular groups of the times, I had many chances to admire how thin Ms Ross was with the result that she became my poster girl for thin.
Speaking of poster girls, it was about this time, Twiggy hit the big time, appearing on the covers of Seventeen and Bazaar……..
………..and it all came together………
There’s no one here to make me eat. Ha ha.
It is my belief that as in the case of alcoholics, food disorders are never cured, but merely overcome, and then only by a hair. What happened in my case was I transferred my dependency to exercise. I started running in 1978 and when I moved to California ran in 10K races for years. I still run occasionally, but attend the gym religiously. Knowing I’m a gym rat, my niece gives me workout clothes each Christmas and truth be told she has better taste in that department than me. The pants she gave me this year were especially nice and I love that they have a long comfortable waistband so I don’t have to worry about plumber’s crack.gy
But what really caught my eye was this size comparison chart on the inside of the waist band.
Small here in the USA is LARGE in Japan? Oh my goodness, is Diana a large? How about Twiggy? Like I said – I’m recovering.
Last Sunday closed out the Winter 2016 skating season at Rockefeller Center. Luckily I’d passed this way several weeks ago and stopped to record it for posterity.
Whose posterity? Anyone’s and everyone’s. This is because I’m the only one who was involved in the tale I’m about to tell who’s still walking this earth. but I guess it’s a factor of living long enough to tell tales. Now that I think about it now, I’d rather me talking about them, than them talking about me.
As I recall my mother and I used to board the D train for the trip to 50th Street and Rockefeller Center every Friday evening. Although it was the same train I wrote about when I recounted my Macy’s woes, and the ride but two stops shorter, if I was asking “Are we almost there (?), it was because I could hardly wait to get there. There, being the skating rink where my Aunt Ginny would meet us after she got out of work. Aunt Ginny was my mother’s youngest sister. She worked for the New York Times and she loved ice skating. She also loved her little niece. So once I turned four, she’d walk over from the original Times Building which was about 6 blocks away.
The Old New York Times Building
We’d buy our tickets, and go into the dressing room, and although I didn’t change into a cute little skirt, my skates did have pom poms on them. Aunt Ginny would change out of her work clothes and my mother would lace up my skates and layer me with sweaters, and off we’d go; Aunt Ginny and I, to the ice, and my mother, to take up her observer post by the rail.
See the little girl in red? That’s where my mother would stand, and the door just behind her, to the right, was the dressing room
We kept this up week and after week and I took to the ice naturally. By the time I was five, I was able to skate around the rink by myself without holding her hand or the rail.I still remember how I loved being part of the circular whir of skaters, and and how exciting it was to skate in the midst of all the skyscrapers, fancy stores with the lights of Manhattan blazing and sparkling overhead.
Our weekly excursions ended the winter I turned six. I’d ceased being an only child in July when my brother Jimmy was born. My father, a podiatrist, had evening office hours and my mother couldn’t very well bundle up the baby and stand there with him in the freezing cold. So Aunt Ginny went straight home to Brooklyn after work, and we stayed home in Manhattan and watched Friday night TV.
After a five year hiatus, we did try to resume our sessions, on Sunday afternoons instead of Friday night. But it was never the same. I was eleven, and after skating with my friends on Saturday afternoons at the huge Wollman Rink in Central Park which was about ten times larger than the Rockefeller Center rink, fifty times more crowded and much rougher, I’d become a flawless skater, not a figure skater, but one who never fell. Rockefeller Center seemed very tame by comparison.
Jimmy was the pupil now, and he was not only much clumsier than I had been, also much bigger. I guess Aunt Ginny got tired of being pulled down on the ice, and soon my skating was confined to Central Park, which was fine with me. I went skating a few times in college and once or twice in my twenties, but it had become mechanical, and as my friends laughed and wobbled and held on the the rail, I became bored with it.
Jimmy resumed skating as an adult, but only to take his daughter skating whenever she wanted. His stride was a kind of a sharp-elbowed hobble. If you are old enough to remember the TV show, The Real McCoy’s, you’ll understand why we called him Grandpappy Amos on Ice; his style of skating, reminiscent of Walter Brennan’s skippy type limp with elbows held at an angle.
As for me, I went on to bigger, better, and scarier things – like sliding down Vermont mountains with skinny strips of fiber glass and wood attached to my feet. I never became bored with skiing, probably because I never stopped fearing for my life! As my more skilled friends paralleled and schussed their way down the mountain, I’d follow at my own pace and style, probably equivalent to Jimmy’s Grandpappy Amos style of skating.”Please, please. I’d pray”, as I picked up speed, navigating through the turns, retreating to the prayerful deal-making of promises of my childhood years. “I’ll be good , I promise I will if you just let me get to the bottom alive.”
Then I’d arrive at the bottom and ski-step back to the lift line, thinking Wow! that was fun. Let’s do it again. No I never got bored with skiing, but I got my own apartment which meant I couldn’t afford going to Vermont every weekend. (or any weekend, for that matter.)
Now I never miss a chance to walk by the Rockefeller skating rink when I can. I make my way through the crowd to gaze down at the skaters. Am I feeling nostalgic because I’m sole survivor of those long gone days? No, I’m just waiting to see someone fall down!