post Christmas stroll

A little walk to work off the cookies.


appy christmas

This is only a test. Not much time for doing any blogging what with the walks, the painting, the reading books, the playing train, the eating potato sticks, the getting dressed, the monkey pyjamas, the cleanup, the cooking, and etc.


a train set from santa

Just what she wanted!
The older set went a bit higher tech


a star, a star

Leaving town for points north, but not that far north. Bearing gifts, like everyone else on the train.

merry accident-free christmas

A friend found this in the Ozarks. And a very merry to all of y'all! Or yuns, as the case might be. Please be careful, as I am not responsible either!
I will post presently from my current location. Not the Ozarks.



This is called a fingered citron. Also known as Buddha's Hand, which I prefer probably because of the Duck Dynasty/Christmas nonsense. I bought it because I loved it but wound up letting it rot because I couldn't think of what to do with it other than try to make marmalade or candied peel, neither of which I like. Maybe I'll just buy one every now and again for decor.
  And here's what my pal Frank Martin has to say about holiday greetings in his editorial.


solstice roundup

Pretty grim outside right now, so I submit this picture of what Block Island can look like even as the winter solstice approaches—tomorrow at 5:11 pm. It's the shortest day of the year, with nine hours and 32 minutes of daylight. I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to sleep when it's dark all the time. Or I sleep at the wrong times.
   On the runup to Christmas, you might be interested in looking at these maps of religious affiliations in the US.
   Speaking of Christmas, Wear Your Music has its last shipping day on Monday, aka my sister's (still the President of the Garden Club!) birthday. Check out this article about Hannah's company.
  At a much higher price point, maybe you feel like treating yourself to a fabulous tile installation—it will fill you with cheer just to look at the possibilities on line.
   And in case you want to spend the spring equinox with medicine men in Peru and Lake Titicaca, check out out friend Aymar's tour here.


this just in

OK, so this is the Christmas list of my kind of step granddaughter (put another way, my daughter's niece) (put another way, my ex-husband's granddaughter) (put another way, my granddaughter's first cousin) (put another way, an old friend's granddaughter) (it's complicated). And all I have to say about this particular list is that Montessori school must work!
And a historical footnote from before my niece Madison was a teenager.


name that year!

The My Little Ponies should be a giveaway—also the fact that a teacher clearly wrote this down. FYI: The My Little Ponies are now stabled in Providence with the next generation.
   I take great delight in kids' Christmas lists and often posted my nieces' lists. Now they're getting so old they want cars and "compudres", which is not as much fun as this list or this list.


mansion on the beach

photo by dada
It's that time of the year when I live on Block island remotely: Booking season. And according to this photo of the new house next door, they are now at work on the interior. It actually feels much smaller on the inside than it looks on the outside. Looking good for occupancy next summer, so hopefully my guests won't have to endure hammering and bulldozing for another season. Not that a single person complained this year.


journalists yakking

Put a bunch of writers together and you get a lot of talk. When they share a lot of history at a magazine (Life), you get even more than usual. It was a very long lunch—like, eleven hours. So if I did not take your birthday call, well, sorry!
And, yes, Elvis was there too. In fact, Elvis is everywhere.


it's my party

and I'll age if I want to. Thanks for all the love!


past lives

Christmas is coming up, and the grandmother has another stocking to make this year. Also, in the interests of continuing closet cleanup, I thought I'd go through the knitting needles and yarn while I was looking for red and green. I no longer knit (only crochet) and nor does my mother or my daughter, so I packed up the needles and sent them off to Alaska, to a yarnmaker extraoirdinare (see her blog Woolen Travels) for her knitting class. Trying to find a home for all of these odds and ends of personal history. Well, hell, I do have a birthday tomorrow.
   Also wanted to share a link for a slideshow about Elaine's life that a colleague, Chris McKenna, made for the memorial. You can find it here on You Tube.


memento mori

The box of fiber prints was labelled Edward Steichen, and the photographer was curious. It was lying on the floor ready to be carted to the dumpster along with the other belongings of an elderly neighbor who had recently died. She leafed through them. There was the man who had been the director of the department of photography at MOMA for decades, the curator of "The Family of Man," which introduced documentary photography to millions of Americans. In the prints, Steichen was hanging a show of images clearly recognizable by any former LIFEer as those of David Douglas Duncan.
   And so I emailed the photo department at MOMA to see if they wanted these rescues. A piece of photographic history.


outside the window


I love a snow day like today. Alternate side of the street parking is suspended. No traffic. You can watch the snow fall as if you're in your own little snow globe, only the snow is outside. The rest of the world just ceases to exist. I'm thinking split pea soup.


she missed the best party

And boy would she have loved it. A couple hundred people at her memorial, all singing her praises. A journalism scholarship in her name from Lehman College (More info about where to donate from WNYC. There is a clickdown menu for how to direct your donation; choose Elaine Rivera scholarship). Meanwhile, Rose, who helped produce the event fabulously, also wrote a pretty brutal piece about alcoholism among Latinos for CNN. Here is the obit I wrote  and the (somewhat repetitive) text of my speech:
“Hi, it’s Elaine!” She said it as if we would be totally surprised, like we didn’t have caller ID. “Any bochinche?”
    I met her when she was working at the New York Bureau at waspy Time magazine.  She mostly championed underdogs. They mostly didn’t. I am Elaine’s WASP friend. She taught me not to flip my hair. I have had a crick in my neck ever since.
     She had so many friends. I like most of them. But, like, not the steelworkers she picked up in Yankee Tavern and brought to my house to throw up. They probably offered her a ride.
    Elaine needed a driver, a cook, a handyman, an accountant, a cleaner. Life was just too hard otherwise. Dolores, she called herself. Sorrows. “I suffer," she said.
     She must have, although the Elaine I met was incredibly cheerful. She loved a party. Sparklers from the 99-cent store, flowers from her favorite flower lady. Every birthday a cake.  Every year a calendar. I will be finding confetti around my apartment until I die.
    She called drinking an occupational hazard of journalism. But she blamed herself. I blame her too. I blame Yankee Tavern and her other watering holes.I blame her search for community, for belonging. She won’t be making that trip up the coast of Maine. Or writing that book about Malcolm X. Without the calendars she gave me how will I know what day it is?  Except that each day will be another without Elaine. But, hey, thanks for getting us all to the doctor’s!
     The takeaway: Write a will, write a book, celebrate everything—even death— and love everybody while you can.
     In her cups, Elaine always insisted that I sing Warren Zevon’s Gone with the Hula Hula Boys:
   I saw her leave the luau with the one who parks the cars.
And the fat one from the swimming pool they were swaying arm in arm.
     I can hear their ukuleles playing down by the sea.
    She’s gone with the hula hula boys. She don’t care about me."
       Aloha, Elaine.



Site of large picture for decades.

I suppose this is the result of the two fires in the immediate neighborhood recently. My neighbor's framed still life in the hall hadta go. And her wreath. I hope they don't come after my ba gua. But what really has the folks exercised is their doormats. No doormats? Where to wipe the boots that are no longer permitted to dry off in the hall?
My ba gua, to keep evil forces at bay.


name that drone!

A friend of mine, let's call him Anon, has been talking about commercial and journalistic use of drones for a long time, Mr. Bezos. In fact, he bought his own (left) some time ago. (Let's hope its camera skills are superior to those of whomever took this picture. )
   Drones are not the only subject on which Anon has been prescient, he complains:
"A year ago I was sitting outside on a terrace having a drink. A guy sat next to me and we chatted. He said he was the head of a document delivery system in NYC. He used bike messengers. I told him I would help him get ready for drones. Just doing cross-river deliveries would have saved him a bundle. And this on a week when it looks like forgotten little islands may start the next war and Lost Boys of the Sudan are on the cover of the NYT magazine. . . Well, on to Allerest acres. . .
  Well not quite. He does have his own drone. He is thinking of calling it Shooting Star. Can you come up with a better name?


i like a truck

That's CSC in rear. photo by John Gasner @1985
In a frame that might be designed to contrast with the fiery cityscape of yesterday, my bro-in-law sends in this old shot of the bucolic compound on Block Island. That's the original Surfmobile (blue) on the right and a couple of John's ancient vehicles. I wish we still had those trucks, but in the interest of the community, we had to head em up and move em out. I don't know what the dump charges these days, but I used to drive vehicles too rusty to pass inspection and park 'em there for a few hundred. I recollect at least three. I left the keys in, of course.


tis the season

We had the second big fire within the week in the neighborhood last night, as the top two floors of a brownstone on West End between 82nd and 83rd burned. You could see flames, and the smoke came into my apartment. Apparently one person was seriously hurt. So far no word on whether it was candles, fireplace or Christmas tree.


grandparent report

Baby Bright Beset by Dinosaurs

One had never been to the big city before; the other not within certain memory. There they are in their mama's childhood bedroom, playing with her toys. Life certainly goes on. They left last night—not, fortunately by Metro North, but by automobile—with the dogs, the crib, the giant doubledecker stroller, the diapers, the pjs & etc.
I promise after I finish the bunch of writing I have to do now that I will put a tad more effort into this here. Hold your breath.


head em up and move em in

Cowboy Garrison rode into town yesterday on her stick horse to make pies. So if my posts are less than satisfactory you'll know the reason why. Meanwhile we can play Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? A game that even I don't know the answer to.


dinosaurs bearing wreaths

I guess the season has begun. Evergreen T Rexes (?) are guarding the doors at the Museum of Natural History, and the reviewing stand for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is already set up across the street. However, high winds are predicted. What are they going to do about the balloons? Should ask Fitz, whose full time job is the parade.

UPDATE: "Parade will happen no matter what, they may have to ground the balloons, ( I think they will still walk them, they would be more at ground level.. but still don't know for sure) as wind is suppose to be better on Thurs than Wed. so... let's see.  He will know more tomorrow. "



The artist above (Kate Knapp) says she was pointing out the sheep, not the savior, in this Tiffany window at the New York Historical Society. We met her at one of the five shows she visited on a truly whirlwind tour of the metropolis. It was a reprise of the 1913 Armory Show that introduced New York to the burgeoning modernist movement. Both European and American artists were shown, from Impressionists to Cubists, and many viewers were outraged—outraged!—by Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (left), which one (outraged) critic compared to a pile of shingles. See the range of work in this tour of the original show. Or check out the Historical Society Show itself, where some of the original works have been collected.
   Oh, and speaking of impressionists, we were very impressed this ayem with the work of one Camilla.


50 years ago

Dick Stolley, my former boss (hired me three times—at People, which he founded, at People again and at Life) is the man of the hour. He's all over the docs as the Life staffer who bought the Zapruder film of the assassination and thereby launched a thousand conspiracy stories. You can hear him talk about it (above) and you can hear something about the conspiracy stories at this NYT link.


heart ny

Have been gadding about town a lot what with Life reunions etc. And whenever I come back, I feel very fortunate to live in such a great place in such a great part of such a great city. Having a visitor who remembers how derelict the city was back when we moved here and sees how much it has changed makes me appreciate it all the more.


past blasting

So the movie wasn't great. But it made me sad, because it was set at a time when LIFE magazine was shutting down. And we were all there when it did. Great to see old friends, including the younger set above—one still a journalist, one a children's book writer, and one a shrink.Thank you, Graydon Carter and Vanity Fair.


our secret LIFE

So this Walter Mitty movie is based on the story of a picture researcher at LIFE, as the magazine publishes its last issue. The people on the last staff of LIFE have been invited to a screening. About 90 are showing up. It's a Christmas release, and you can watch the trailer here.


let the good old times roll

Back in the day, when Linda and I started working together at LIFE, some quality time was spent in this very living room cutting lines of coke.
   Jeez, that was another life!
   We traveled to Uruguay to do a story about the fellows from Alive 25 years after their plane crashed in the Andes and they lived by eating their (dead) fellow passengers. LIFE sent two of us! Now, as I was saying to Dada the other day, magazines wouldn't send anyone out into the field. You'd just write the story off the interweb and maybe e mail a couple of questions. As it was I got to go to South America for a couple weeks and then write my favorite first sentence ever:
 "They ate them."
    Anyway, this comes up because a bunch of LIFEers are flying in for a screening/reunion tomorrow. Linda's here from California, and others are coming in from far flung places. Me, I just gotta take the No. 1 to TriBeCa.


tnx for the eyeballs

    The main thing that keeps me going on this blog is knowing that you're looking at it. (Reading is too much to hope for these days.) Most of you are friends, though I have made new friends through CSC as well. There are, of course, the spammers. Though they are not that interested in blogs with a following as small as mine.
    Shoutout: You guys are loyal! Love you, mean it!
    And it's been a long time; I am what is known as an early adopter. However, my site visitor counter just reset at 200,000 and ditched my stats, and now I have no idea who's reading. Unless you comment.
     Thank you, O faithful ones! I am ever grateful for your support. But if I don't get modest feedback—I just can't go on.
     At least until Hannah installs some new spyware on my site. . .


new york sunset

 This is the view from an upstairs neighbor's place. He died recently, in his 90s, and his apartment is about to be gutted. It is melancholy to see all of his erudite life headed for a dumpster. There is no one left to care for the cans of film, the books he wrote, the sheet music, the record collection, his wife's photographs. His daughter-in-law, too, is old and has no time to go through the trash looking for treasures.
  That, along with Elaine's death, makes me think about how much too much stuff I have. I have been going through the old story files, the old Life and People magazines with the thousands of words I have written (many I can't even remember!), the notebooks in my handwriting I can't read, the audio tapes of interviews with Presidents I don't have a way to listen to, the videotapes of my old TV shows I can't play, the book proposals on floppy discs from long ago computers, the portable Olivetti typewriter version of a novel. The detritus of life, and Life. Enough already, as they used to say in New York.


hints of winter

photo by Douglas Gasner
On Block Island, there was a frosting of snow the other day, and here in New York we had a fleeting, sleeting flurry. Now, of course, we're headed back to the 60s. Go figure.
 And speaking of the sixties, I have some little stories about them days to be shared soon.
  Meanwhile, here's the roundup I usually do on Mondays.
  Last week's Boomer column ( a deplorable name) in the NYT featured old friend (and college boyfriend) Wesley Strick and his long-time bride. And there were a couple of the great maps 'n' stats things the Internet does so well going around. Dada sent in one about sandwiches. Someone else sent me a collection of numbers of things like world population and crime. Here's a new book with studies showing that being in and near water is good for you (we knew that). And a high school student's two minute history of the world. Enjoy!


the more things change

Every time I come back to the city after an absence, there are new stores. For some reason, the new store erases my memory of the previous one until I go specifically looking for whatever was there before. Anyway, one of the new stores, Treat House, is clearly going for the gut of the nostalgia market by selling nothing but rice krispie treats in many revolting-looking flavors like bubble gum, pretzel and mint chocolate. I had a plain one for $2.25. Tasted like the ones I used to make as a teenager—rice krispie treats, toll house cookies or fudge were all that was on the dessert menu chez moi. But, dang, still can't remember what was in that space before. The Thai restaurant? The card shop? Something.


who am i?

I am Isaac Bright. I will be three months old pretty soon, and I am developing teeth and a personality. I can sleep in a crib, and I can roll over. I'm getting pretty big. For a kid my age, I mean. A week ago or so I moved to a new house. I was just getting used to the old one! But this one is better, because I get to go on a lot more walks. Also, it has a bigger yard. Not that I can walk yet. Soon. People are discussing who I look like in the family. No one seems sure. I really just look like myself.


here we go again

It seems like the season is just over, and it's time to begin all over again. Here is the letter I will send to previous tenants after Thanksgiving. If you see any gaps or errors or cuts (it is too long) or problems with tone, please let me know. Many of my returnees are people I have never met in person, but know only through email.
Honored Guests,
I don’t know what happened to Block Island, but it has become super popular. I had people asking me to reserve for the 2014 season back in the spring! I told them I needed to see which of my long-time guests wanted to return.
   Please let me know soonest your ideal and second choice weeks for next summer, and I will try to make it work for you, with people who have been coming the longest getting preference. And let me know which house, too, as some of you have been switching or taking both! Flexibility is appreciated. As of January 1, if I do not have secure reservations (ie, paid for) I will throw the remaining weeks open to new people.
    The prices next season, from Friday June 23 to Friday September 5, are $4900/week for Hannah’s and $4700/week for Claudia’s. There is also the $49 damage insurance charge. I thank those of you who reported damage to me this year: Insurance paid all claims. The good news is twice-weekly garbage pickup will be included next year.  
    Offseason prices are $1000 less. Linens will not be supplied even offseason in 2014, and I am not booking partial weeks, but Friday to Friday, as during season.
     Have a great holiday season and—as if you don’t have enough to do—let me know when you’d like to come next year. You are great guests or I wouldn’t be hoping you come back.



Dallas, Alice

Above the back roads
I went to Taos but not Tucumcari, and now it's back to ground zero, with its bills, memorial services, time changes and thin, pale sunlight. On the bright side, there's the gym, the friends, the bed, the food. And, of course, the culture. Can't wait to hit those museums! The shows! Times Square! Rock Center!


goodbye to all this

We had rain and sleet and snow and hail and mostly sun here in the southwest, and you could see it all from my brother's porch looking out across the arroyo. It's another world, the wild west. Headed back today to the tamed east.