Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reruns! Of Dad And Lawrence And The Memories He Never Got To Have

Technical difficulties and medical happenings welcome in reruns of technical difficulties and medical happenings.

Originally posted June 14, 2014

Ok. Let's get something straight on this day of fathers.  We never had a television in the house.

So, there was no gathering around the TV to watch Ed or Johnny or Lawrence.

And, while we're at it, we never lived in those guys' America.

There was no clean-cut nothing going on on the Lower East Side.  We didn't speak with that bell-like crystal clear accent or with syntax that lined up as it was supposed to.

Our voices were loud or coarse, and our words came out like they had just been beaten up, vowels all open and wide and tired from centuries of running that never stopped even after sitting down at a table of food not always guaranteed.

Those beat-up words lined up in the formation of a language my father called a "slave tongue" which is why he never spoke Yiddish to us, his desperate wish, like God's for Moses' people, we grow in a world free and unknowing of those chains.

Our clothes were proudly gotten from friends, outgrown yet still good, or church bazaars where tables overflowed with proof of other peoples' abilities to buy what they needed new, now no longer useful or wanted.  We wore those clothes proudly.

How we spoke and what we wore looked nothing like what I saw that recent night in California, Dad's chair pulled up as close as he could get, his hearing so gone and the volume so loud.

I wondered when he fell in love with Lawrence Welk.

I wondered when he even got the chance to dream of a life where words were crystal clear and all the pretty girls' dresses had nary a stain or mend on them and looked like they were not three year-old fashion but just off the pages of some smart happy magazine, like Good Housekeeping.

I wondered when he got a chance to sit before a TV screen we never had and stare at the bubbles and watch skits that had utterly no irony, wit or depth or the synchronized swaying of a big band that looked like they just came out of the washing machine.

Lawrence's world looked so happy and there was none of that where we grew up.

And when the hell did my father get a chance to peek into that America?  He was too busy supporting us, his own dreams paying for our care.

He wasn't an awful father, but he dreamt of being a dad that could have lived in Lawrence Welk's America.

Sometimes, when it gets late, sometimes late in the evening, sometimes late in life, you dream of memories you wish you had.  And sometimes, that's good enough.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  And thank you for the microscope and engraving pen and the painting kits and the stuffed basset hound dog and the...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reruns! One Year's Meat Is Another Year's Poison. Or Piggybank.

Technical difficulties and medical happenings welcome in reruns of technical difficulties and medical happenings.

Originally posted March 21, 2013

Seymour smoked.  Florence smoked.  In those days it was like drinking coffee or putting ketchup on your burger.

When they got married in 1947 or 48, someone gave them a bubble-glass ashtray for a wedding present.

It did its job like the rest of the stuff in the house. 

But then smoking got definitely bad for you, not just kinda a lousy habit, but really really bad.

Florence offered me and Louise $100 or maybe it was more if we didn't smoke until we were old.  Like twenty-one.  Louise made her pay up.

The rest of us quit here and there.  And then finally.

So the ashtray, along with all the other accoutrements of lighting up, had to find a new job.


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Memories of Memories: "I'm Your Memory"

Technical difficulties and medical happenings welcome in reruns of technical difficulties and medical happenings.

Originally posted May 25, 2014

That's what Len says every time Seymour says he can't remember.

Not stuff like the thousand of jokes or remnants of Marx Brothers songs or ditties from the lower east side my father can rattle off for hours on end.

No.  Just the next five minutes.  If he and Len are going to the bank or the supermarket. If it was lunch or time to sit the couch.

"I don't remember."

"Don't worry about it.  I'm your memory."

Len is.  He remembers the schedule of each hour and every day.  He know every doctor and every check up.  He knows what meals are incoming and what medicines are running out.  

But I wonder who holds the other memories.  Not the joke or that the supermarket is next.  But the other ones.... the smell of the cake his mother used to bake in coffee cans when they lived at Knickerbocker Village.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday's Child is Loving and Giving
And Is Practicing Detente

Two adopted cats
after 18 months,
have accomplished
what some Governments
around the world
have not.

Learned to live together.  
And when the need arises, 
attack only the shadows...

You too can have 
international peace in your home!!!!

Meowsers, this girl is a stunner! Molly and her sleepy sister are very cuddly and affectionate. They rub themselves against the bars of their cage asking for attention and swoon at the gentlest touch. They are 8 years old and need a home together because they've lived their entire lives as a dynamic duo. They will make wonderful pets for a very lucky cat lover! Come visit them during Social Tees' regular hours (see below!).


It's freezing out there and all the rescue puppies and dogs need some extra layers! Social Tees will more than happily take used sweaters, coats, shirts, etc.

Please email if you have questions.  Donations accepted anytime during regular hours! Thank you!! (This well dressed boy was adopted last week!)


His foster parent just canceled and Social Tees doesn't want him stuck in a cage!

Coco is amazingly friendly and playful, awesome with other dogs and all people he meets. Loves to cuddle, 8 yrs old, only 12 lbs, just groomed.

Email NOW if you can help! Pickup is ASAP at Social Tees





Mon to Fri 5pm-7pm
Sat & Sun 12pm-4pm

Social Tees
325 East 5th Street
New York, NY  10003

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Waiting for Godot. Or the World to End.
Whichever Shows Up First.

Used to be a Sunday afternoon found the Henry Street Theater packed with kids.

Used to be going to the theatre was more normal that watching TV

Used to be being in a theater was as precious as riding the Staten Island Ferry.

So I was surprised to see them sit down.  And thrilled.  Suddenly, braving bitter winds and cranky subways to see a show didn't see like such a rare event.

It reminded me of what leaving home used to be all about: watching alive, vibrant masters of their craft do what came naturally.  In this case, re-enacting the radio show, the War of the World and my favorite book, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 

I hear next week there is even more.  Back to the Future!!


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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Stork Has Arrived!

And when you write about cloning, it's an extraordinary stork, indeed.

Welcome to the world, The Only Ones.

An extraordinary book by Carola Dibbell and published by Two Dollar Radio is now available for purchase, for delight, for a flight into another world.  Be the first on your block.


Originally Posted June, 2014 and REVISED!

You can spend years in a room.   Wondering if that whole "caterpillar in a cocoon" thing was just a fairy tale that kept you locked up.   Until one day you're done and it's finished and you push open the door to a huge world and you come out, bursting with brilliance that would make the most beautiful butterfly weep with envy.

And that's exactly what Carola Dibbell's debut novel, THE ONLY ONES has done. 


Below are excerpts from TWO DOLLAR RADIO's announcement and interview:

With a stylish voice influenced by years of music writing, The Only Ones is a time-old story, tender and iconic, about how much we love our children, however they come, as well as a sly commentary on class, politics, and the complexities of reproductive technology. It is an outstanding book, grand in scope, relatable, heartbreaking, accessible, that I know will turn a lot a lot of heads.

TWO DOLLAR: The Only Ones is your debut novel, and we’ve scheduled it to publish in March 2015, which is a month before your 70th birthday. That’s pretty rad.

CAROLA:  Having said all that about the dignity of unrecognized labor, let me be clear. It is a life-changing event to have  work I’ve put so much into about to head out in the world. I find myself thinking I should finally start cardio workouts so I’ll be alive to write the next novel. I think about the shape of a life with this late-breaking twist.  It is very, very sweet.

It also would have been sweet at sixty.

Even fifty.

Happy Birthday, Carola!

And thank you for being such an inspiration.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Memories of the Future of Love

A long time ago, watching life through Fred and Ginger movies or Gene Kelly with just about anyone, I thought love would come just like it did in plays.  A happy ending - period! For the rest of your life. All I had to do was be as beautiful and slim and graceful and smoldering and...I was none of that, even with eye makeup.

When I got older, I thought love would come in flowers and I would become a melting heart as they were handed to me.  And there was a time they did and sometimes I did.  Except, while the flowers smelled so sweet and were touted as an expression of great feeling surpassing words, they didn't change the snappish remarks or the broken promises and my heart just wouldn't stop being... well... tough.

I always thought love was a wall of candy, particularly licorice or chocolate .  It definitely felt that way at the beginning.  It's just that when the wall was all eaten up, Love was no where to be found.  What was left was just great regret and an awful feeling I still was myself only much, much fatter.

While all this swirled about, life shifted and changed and lost and gained and knees got cranky and waistlines stubborn and slowly the miscellaneous burned away.

What was left meant more than candy and flowers and fairy tales told in song and dance.

It was someone's absolute delight in whoever it was I was and fierce support for whatever it was I could do.

On a day where candy and roses filled the street, and arms seemed filled with hearts and stuffed animals, the Mariner gave me the best Valentine ever.  "Look," he said.

And without even needing any more words, or having to be told where to look,  in the snow and late hour we both stopped, took out our cameras and loved each other for nothing else except being who we were.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday's Child Is Loving and Giving
And Wants to Be
YOUR Valentine's


Let Social Tees' pooches smother you with puppy love this Valentine's Day! Have your picture taken with Suzy the irresistibly gorgeous rescue bulldog in the kissing booth*, meet insanely cute adoptable dogs, sip yummy cocktails, and get 20% off your purchase at Love Thy Beast.

Where: Love Thy Beast -- 341 Lafayette St. (at Bleecker)
When: February 14, 2015 from 12pm to 3pm

*$5 donation for a kiss and photo in the booth... which you can of course share all over Instagram etc. ALL proceeds go straight to animal rescue.


This tiny mama and her even tinier babies are a little stressed in their current foster home because there are too many other pets around. Can you help?? Ideally needs a quiet home with no other pets or with a quiet room where this family can chill alone. Fostering starts ASAP and lasts a month. Email if you can help!!!


Lucy aka Sasha traveled up to NYC from TN a few months ago.  She is about 8 or 9 years old and had been living at a sanctuary for a few years before heading north to find her forever family.  She chilled out in a few foster homes up here before her soul mates came along, and now they couldn't be happier.

Her new mom says: ""We renamed Sasha Lucy (to which she has quickly taken on the nick name Lucy Goosey). She's been a great addition to our little family- and adjusted well to her new brother Max (also a senior and a rescue!). Her extremely calm temperament was a blessing for that transition- and is overall! Yet another benefit of a senior!!

At first she was a bit aloof as her foster parents noted but she seems to be settling in- we're forcing our cuddles and hugs on her and she's gradually starting to come to us for them instead of the other way around!!! We also now get lots of tail wags and eye contact which may seem small but is so rewarding- she even gets excited when we get home! We love her dearly and are so happy to have her as part of our crew!"

(a Social Tees' alum)





Social Tees
325 East 5th Street
New York, NY  10003 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Night Shifts...

... and things becomes clearer.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You Got Your Nature I Got Mine

The only trees I knew growing up were carefully protected by cement and pretty linked fences and rules about not touching them.  Most of them were tall.

Since they weren't something to play with, who the hell cared.  They were just there and all the old ladies sat under them kvetching and gossiping. 

And yeah, the trees filling the Men's Park let me know the time of season and when summer was coming and when summer was leaving but they were more like a clock.

No, the forests I looked out upon were not grown from things.  They were made of things . They were the Con Edison smokestacks up on 14th.  They were the water towers of the old buildings my parents had struggled to get out of into better housing.  They were as normal as the sound of the subway  They were my forest and my view.

They were my nature.

I still don't get trees.  I mean, I like them and everything.  They're nice to sit under and nice to walk under.  They are very, very pretty to look at.  But if you ask me to take out my camera and take a picture of one that tells its story, I'm lost.

No.  What makes me whip out my camera in delight and awe and repeatedly look at the horizon in wonderment is steel and smoke and wood holding water and the millions of stories I told myself all the years I've stared out on them.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Memories of Winter

dying Brooklyn snowman

photo by E.M. Smith

Snow days used to be fun.  The only thing going 40 miles an hour was a car on some highway, and school was closed because secretly the Board of Ed wanted to say home too.

As the inches piled up and covered the tidy squares of grass no one was never EVER allowed to touch, let alone walk on, every kid on the Lower East Side raced downstairs.  It was the only time we were allowed to step onto that carefully kept piece of nature.

We hooted and hollered, jumped and leaped and rolled and got wet and cold, and then rushed into a lobby to throw our mittens on the radiator to dry up enough so we could rush out again for such a rare day, the smell of steaming wool trailing us

Except for all our happy I-don't-gotta-go-to-school joy on a rare day, all around us the city felt like a lullaby.  Soft and quiet and peaceful. 

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday's Child is Loving and Giving
And Just Gave Birth


Social Tees rescued this obscenely cute and wonderful poodle out of a kill shelter in Los Angeles area two weeks ago, at which point she was super duper pregnant.

She gave birth to five healthy, equally cute and wonderful little curly puppies last week!!!  Big thanks to her awesome foster family who helped her through the birth.

Now Social Tees needs to collect the puppy supplies to take proper care of this mom and her babies over the next two months -- wee pads, cleaning supplies, puppy food, small dog food, and more.


You can make a material donation via Social Tees' Amazon Wish List here.


Baby is a sweet little lady but she doesn't really like other animals so she's miserable at the shelter. Please help this girl! She needs a foster home ASAP where she can be the only pet, chill out, and soak up all of your attention. Please email if you can give this girl a chance.  She needs you!!

(Or on the Chair...)

Poppy arrived this morning and has already made herself at home with her two foster sisters, Toast and Muppet - @toastmeetsworld and @muppetsrevenge. Thank goodness for these lovely Cavalier ladies and their amazing family! Poppy is about 6 years old and only 8 lbs, as sweet and toy-like as they come. Interested in adopting?  Complete an application at!



These schmancy top entry litter boxes by Modko go for $180 retail. BUT Social Tees is selling gently used or new Modkats for only $50 each.


Social Tees is part of Modko's special "Return to Good" program where returned boxes are donated to shelters.  If you're interested in buying one, come to Social Tees during regular hours or email for more details.





Goldie, a Social Tees alum, hanging out

Social Tees
325 East 5th Street
New York, NY  10003

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Guest Artist: Marian Lews, Birdwatcher - Walk This Way

Marian Lewis, truly a city birdwatcher, knew something was up...

As I hurried up First Avenue with all the other people walking briskly, something caught my eye.

There on the sidewalk, by the wrought iron fence around a tree pit, was a small bird.

It was not unusual to see birds on the Upper East Side.  Often pigeons or sparrows scurried and fluttered by winging their way into a bush or tree.

This one was different.  This one hopped out into the middle of the sidewalk and started walking down the sidewalk with the flow of human traffic.

I knew it was a starling. I kept walking the opposite way, but kept glancing over my shoulder.  This bird was still marching boldly in the middle of the sidewalk.  I turned toward it thinking I would need to rescue it.  Maybe it couldn’t fly.

But it seemed fearless.  I walked faster to catch up.  Just as I was closing in, it reached the intersection of the cross street.  I was not near enough to grab it before it got to the curb but I could see it was a young starling not yet afraid of the perils of New York streets.

It stood still at the curb’s edge.  I wondered if I could get to it.  Suddenly it flew across the street just skimming over the moving cars.

“Surely it will perch in a tree,” I thought.  But it came to a landing right on the sidewalk across the intersection.  Standing on my tiptoes, I looked over moving traffic, straining to see where it would go.

The little starling continued strutting down the middle of the sidewalk amidst the parade of human feet.  No one paid mind to my little bird of wonder.  I turned around and walked on my way.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Encore: Sunday Memories of
Wondering Why: Untitled Puzzlement

Originally posted January 28, 2010, it still begs the question why Art loses out. Even when it isn't Super Bowl Sunday.

Watching a dedicated amateur pianist in an under-heated recital hall in the basement of an institution that somehow has become less important and much less funded that watching over-muscled men bash each other into early dementia and Parkinson while the whole world cheers them on.