how it's not

Have you had a summer this year?


woodstock and paper stock

There is already hoopla about Woodstock's 40th anniversary on August 15th. As some of you may recollect, Life magazine did a special issue on the festival at the time. (I was there, too, but as a kid, not a journalist.) They had to really hustle to get that issue on the newsstands—in 1969 there were no digital cameras, no computers, no Fed Ex.
And twenty years ago, for the 20th anniversary, I climbed into a car with several people who had covered the event for Life and we drove on up to that pasture in White Lake. The driver was Bill Eppridge, who shows some of his pictures and talks about his recollections of the event in today's Lens column. One of the passengers still works for what is left of Life at its photo site. Another is still with the photographer she fell in love with there. And there was me, the editor of the anniversary piece. We advertised in the newspaper for people who had seen themselves in the original Woodstock issue, tried to verify that they were who they claimed to be, and printed people's memories of the event. By that time we had computers and voice mail, but no Internet or cellphones. There are several similar web hunts going on now, which is a lot easier than doing the thing by newsprint and U.S. mail.
All this is by way of saying that I have started seeing magazine racks in the trash.


summer in the city

And speaking of cool things in hot weather, there's this essay in the New York times that I like better than anything I've read for the longest time.


fireworks in the burbs

My friends, building a house is never easy, and when you add several degrees of difficulty by trying to marry old and new technologies—i.e. post 'n' beam and electricity, Chambers stoves and geothermal wells—you wind up with quite a potpourri of regulations that do not apply very precisely to your situation. Sigh.
Which is to say that the last week of the final march towards a certain Certificate of Occupancy is more rough than smooth, being as certain parties can't solve their new/old problems in the time honored way: by throwing money at it. Well, they could, but they might all get indicted under the Rico act or something. (Must ask Ed.)
I left just in time, or I might have gotten sucked into this drama. Come to think of it, I already have been, via the Case of the Chambers stove. They should move to Missouri.


mass transit

Have been helping finish finishing floors in Massachussetts at Sis's house (above) and am headed down to the city by midday today, hopefully, to park the behemoth.


the typhoon

That was yesterday, before the couple inches of rain last night. That family was leaving, happily. The family coming in—not so much.


back on block island

This lovely couple is once again hosting me in their lovely house. This is the same house that a 6'4" tenant claimed he couldn't fit in last year. So he sued. Yes, the ceilings are low, but the son of the house is also 6'4" and he loves it here. What it lacks in headroom, it makes up in charm.
And now, off to make some beds. . .


da dirty rats

The cousins from Louisiana stepped blithely out the door on the first morning of their visit to New York to be greeted by—
a giant rubber rat!
As many locals know, this symbol of corporate greed appears in front of establishments that are employing non-union labor. My building, for instance, appears to have been ratted out.


a gander at the goose

This just in: "We made a pilgrimage to The Goose this afternoon. As expected, all is exactly as you left it ... except your poor, thirsty tomato plants are literally dying for you. I would have watered them, but thought you had disconnected everything. The grass is hanging in there, despite the heat & lack of water. Bear has obviously been mowing but not watering. We planned to open the doors, drive to Alton to eat, then have Bear lock up around dark. His red truck was parked next to his house, but he did not answer his door when R knocked & called him. So, we had to just go ahead & lock up before we left without giving TG a chance to air.
Rest assured that, while smelling a bit moldy, TG smells & looks SO MUCH BETTER than it did the first time you & I walked in that one day last year!!! Also, we didn't spot any new leaks on the ceiling, etc. The only problem we encountered was the 'swollen' kitchen door. We didn't want to force it, because we were afraid that if we did get it open, we might not get it shut again."

Tnx, Dianne! Her pix show how nicely the grass has grown in over the (ahem) "garden" and that my transplanted hedges, unlike the tomatoes, are still alive.


the fling

The saying goes, "A woman's only a woman, but a Ford's a truck." Or something like that. This is a silver Silverado, i.e. the enemy. The steering is mushy, but the upholstery is cushy. Acceleration's not my style, but it's got just 3000 miles. No four on the floor, but it's a four-door four-by-four. Still, it may be a briefer affair than planned, because it's got commercial plates, which, according to NYC regs, I either can or can't park in this neighborhood with or without lettering. The precinct, the traffic cops, the 311 number and the website all seem to disagree. I have big signs in the thing and hope to make it til Thursday. But then I may have to trade her in on a newer model.


on the beach

After two amazing beach days, I am heading back to New York City this afternoon.


on the west side

Block Island's West Side, that is.


holding the fort

Meanwhile, back in New York City, certain stalwarts are watering the plants, keeping the subways pleasant and maintaining decorum. Thank you, Kathleen.


today's punch list

Fridays 9:30AM-2:30PM

[] Strip beds and baths
[] Start laundry (towels first)
[] Make beds with extra linens (in Harry Potter closets)
[] Empty fridge and freezer (can give stuff to Anna & Jose), fill ice trays
[] Load dishwasher and make go
[] Refill dish soap and replace sponge if needed
[] Check silverware drawer, clean coffee grinder
[] Fill soaps and replace candles (in Harry Potter closets)
[] Put out extra and replace toilet paper and paper towels
[] Replace trash bags in bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchen
[] Replace light bulbs as needed
[] Unload dishwasher
[] Finish laundry
[] Put out flowers and write new note to tenant
[] Leave guestbook on table

[] Check outdoor showers
[] Sweep (if necessary) and arrange porches
[] Position lawn furniture before and after Douglas mows
[] Mow and garden as necessary
[] Check trash and replace trashbags outside. Neaten.
[] Clean or replace grills

This is just my list. Anna and Jose do the major cleaning! Of two houses, eight bathrooms, two dishwashers, refrigerators. . . Two houses, like two children, are much more than one.


my significant other

The truck has not been doing so well, so I decided to send it to summer camp. I promised that it would not have to take another big trip—no more New York, no more Missouri—if it would just make it back to Block Island. With a ton of gravel. Literally.
Meanwhile, my horoscope said that I was coming to the end of a relationship and beginning another. CBA claimed that this was because I was planning to rent Another truck for the summer. How pathetic is it to have your vehicle as your significant other?
But the truck did make it, fishtailing for an hour and a half, onto the ferry and into the driveway, where my sidekick Lee helped me offload the gravel into the ruts.
We're gonna keep on truckin'.


yo-yo pro

The multitalented Amazing Zam warmed up with a cutthroat game of Scrabble, moved on to a little juggling and capped off an Evening of Fun with a yo-yo demo.


shake it up

This picture is glued to the wall. I used hot glue, and every summer when it gets warm in the apartment, blocks drop off. They are made of wood, and make quite a thud.
Daughter-Flower did the picture in high school, and over the years we have created a superstition that whichever block drops off relates to her state of mind of the moment.
How would you interpret this one?


apparition from the past

We have been friends since fourth grade, Celia and I, and last week we revisited a play we did together in high school. It was Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit." In the Broadway version, Angela Lansbury plays Celia's role as the medium Madame Arcati, while Christine Ebersole flutters about in my role as the pain-in-the-ass-first-wife's ghost that Madame Arcati conjurs up. I've read that Coward, a very, very prolific writer, wrote the script in something like ten days.
Incredibly, considering the number of times we must have rehearsed this play, both Celia and I had forgotten the ending. Nor could I remember who played my husband in the play.
I do have the ghost costume in "Claudia's Clothing Museum of Past Personas." Not that it would fit. But I'm still blithe, if less lithe.


in praise of cobblestones

At midnight, Donna Ferrato celebrates the restoring of her Tribeca street with classic paving stones, a process she has been documenting for her 10013 photographic project. Black and white portfolios start at $10,000. But hey, it's the most expensive zip code in the country.



Whenever I clear up the Block Island houses for the season, there are a lot of condiments that have to be given away, thrown out or taken home. Despite the extortionate island prices, no incoming tenant wants to see a half-used bottle of ketchup. For what else they don't want to see, check out this New York Times piece on summer house nightmares.
This is just the jam that made its way back to New York. You should see the mustard and shampoo!


dear tenants

"In efforts to service you in the most efficient way possible. . .

I don't like notes from my building management that begin this way.
I don't want to be "serviced" by them but am always afraid I might be if by serviced you mean what a stallion does to a mare.
And indeed it looks like I am about to be serviced over a little matter of privacy.
The new building management is sure that I will be delighted by a new computerized form of entry to my own apartment that provides a "real time inventory of who exactly has used your key and when and detailed records of all key usage." They insist this will provide me with "security and a peace of mind [sic]."
This in a building that has never had a robbery since I moved in more than 30 years ago.
I'd like to give them a peace of my mind: Property Manager, service you!


island on island

Hannah's house in Block Island became waterfront property on several fronts this spring. Fortunately, we have floats.


michael, di and sarah

The news of Sarah Palin's resignation hit me hard coming so soon after the news of Michael Jackson's death.
There have been a few news events in the past, say, 20 years that have made me long for my journalistic roots at People magazine. Yes, I was there (okay, I was a copy clerk) for the very first issue in 1974.
When I heard in May 1994 that Michael Jackson had married Lisa-Marie Presley, I didn't believe it at first. It was too good to be true.
Then, on one Sunday at the end of August in 1997, I was sitting in a tiny church in Missouri listening to a Christian Identity preacher rant against homosexuals, African-Americans and the media ("the business of the journalist is to destroy truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread") when I heard that Princess Di had died, "hounded to death by the Jew media."
I was working for Life magazine at the time, and oh, dear god did I ever fiercely wish that I was fawning at the feet of Mammon right then at People magazine in the Time-Life building in Jew York City instead of singing the Doxology at the Rose Hill church wearing a borrowed skirt.
And now Michael Jackson/Sarah Palin. If only he had willed her custody of the kids.



When I woke up this morning, I had to keep my eyes closed until I could remember where I was. I started with the place and worked my way up to the 15th floor and into my old bed. It took a while. Last night I slept on the couch above (though not with the Animal) and the night before I surfed the couch at Claudia's Surf City and the night before I was in the big bed there.
Then I remembered that it was Independence Day, which may account for the troublous dreams of mother, daughter, past and future lovers.


next adventure—not!

She was in the left lane, traveling fast. As she was passing a black sedan, the tire exploded. She sledded to the right verge and stopped just before ramming the caution sign.
As this is the third truck mishap this season (to recap: alternator, brake lines), I believe she is trying to tell me something. This just as I was planning to drive to North Carolina and points South.
I think not. Graceful retirement is at hand.


darkness at noon

Midday yesterday it suddenly got dark. And then kaBOOM!
And then, of course, it rained and rained and rained and now there is a lake under Hannah's Hideaway. Thankfully, it's on piers.
I am taking the 10 o'clock boat off island today and wending my way home for the fireworks over the Hudson River.


are you old fashioned?

Today I have to wash and try to avoid ironing the dresser scarves. When was the last time you heard the phrase "dresser scarf"? Do you even know what one is?
At Claudia's Surf City we also have a record player. And a lot of records. Remember those?There are as well dominoes, a sifter, a potato masher and an eggbeater.
What old-style stuff do you keep around?