Category Archives: History
It finally happened. God woke up and got pissed.
He realized that there is a whole group of fanatical jerks, using His name to bash just about anybody else who believes that there is an important role of government in the lives of American citizens.
What does God do when he is pissed?
God sends natural disasters, of course. Just ask any TV preacher when he’s not asking for money. (OK, you’ll have to interrupt him.)
This time, he sent rain. And not just any rain – but about 4 inches of rain in a 12 hour period to an area that was already saturated.
God obviously is pissed at the Tea Partiers. Can you blame him? I am too.
* * *
My thanks to my friend X, at List of X for inspiring this post.
She’s leaving. What a shame. What a pity.
Can I make a confession? I think that Barbara Walters is largely responsible for the sad state of our news media. She started the trend that became the norm: news that focuses on the scandal, the people, the intrigue instead of the, ummmm, news.
Yup, I lay it all on Baba.
Before Baba, TV news was above the fray. Remember Cronkite? Huntley/Brinkley? Howard K. Smith and Harry Reasoner? News was news. It focused on what happened. On the event and its place in the current day and its context in history in a serious way. It was informative, not entertaining. And that, I believe, is how it should be. Because news is serious business and it should be treated as such. Is it today? I don’t think so. Had Barbara Walters never existed, I honestly don’t think we could have the clowns at Fox — or on the left either. News was news and sitcoms and variety shows took care of entertainment.
Since Baba, news has been completely people-focused. Everything is personality – nothing is action. I think that is very wrong.
Since Baba, news-folk have looked for the scandal, for the tears in the story — instead of the story itself. No story is complete without tears. Without scandal. Without some personality saying or doing something that can then be replayed, discussed, analyzed as if that matters more than the results of their actions.
Of course I’m biased.
I knew Harry Reasoner, slightly. One of his kids was (and is) a close friend of mine. So I was in and out of his house growing up. He was a great dad – involved but not intrusive. Interested. Humorous – very humorous.
I hung around his house when the folks in the Nixon White House took a particular dislike to him. That alone is a feather in his cap.
I hung around his house when he became anchor of the ABC Evening News.
[I once arrived at his front door in full makeup for a play – I had to borrow a prop from his daughter. My makeup consisted of dirt, smeared on my face, a torn dress – a rag, really. Bare, dirty feet. He and his wife met me at the front door in formal attire – they were having a seriously fancy party. His comment was classic: “Why Elyse,” he said with a delighted chuckle (having already seen the play), “you dressed so nicely for our party! Thanks for coming!” Mortified, I ran upstairs hopefully without being seen by the crowd of Who’s Who in the living room.
I hung around his house when Baba joined him. And when he went back to 60 minutes.
I had few substantive conversations with Mr. Reasoner. I never tried to learn the scoop. In fact, it was only years later that I understood what had happened to him.
Harry Reasoner was not, from everything I ever saw, a sexist. He was a newsman who cared about words and integrity and getting the facts, ma’am. He believed that the news should be the story. Not the person who deliverd the news He believed in getting the story right and in writing well. In letting the event tell the story.
Baba Wawa is retiring – at least in part.
But today will be her last time on “The View.” But in the way she has done for five decades, Baba Wawa makes herself the story. And that is a huge part of the problem she created in the news industry. The story should be the news. Not the journalist. Of course, Baba has been milking this retirement. She has been for a year now, and will for another year or so. Probably until she dies. Because, of course, Baba is the story don’t cha see.
She’s leaving. What a shame. Don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out.
My sisters and I never saw eye to eye; rather we heard heart to heart through our telephone receivers. We lived a good distance away for most of our lives. And so our connections, close as they were, were nearly always via long distance calls.
The ear pieces on the phone grew increasingly warm and comforting with each laugh, each tease and each word we spoke. We spent hours on the phone, twisting the curly, stretched cord around our body parts, spilling out our hearts and our triumphs and our woes. But there is no record, no evidence, and sadly fewer clear recollections.
So I made up some memories.
* * *
I began to question the wisdom of this trip as soon as the line went dead.
The call Thursday night was unexpected. Sam and Dave – customers from the burger joint I’d worked in back home — had tracked me down in Boston. I’d left home six months earlier, and was surprised that the guys had found me. They had said they were in Boston often and promised to look me up – but so had a lot of people.
Six months away from home hadn’t been nearly as fun as I expected my “coming of age” to be. I hesitated to admit that I was lonely and would love some company. But I hadn’t even thought about Sam and Dave – forgotten them, in fact. Well, I barely knew them to begin with. Sam was tall, blond, nice smile. A well done hamburger with fries; Dave was shorter with shaggy brown hair that he often pulled back. He liked his cheeseburger rare with onion rings. Both drank Coke. One of them drove my favorite car, a 1974 Datsun 240Z. Blue.
“Great, we’ll pick you up Saturday at 10,” one of them said. Was it Dave? He and Sam were on separate extensions and kept finishing each other’s sentences like an old married couple.
“Yeah, Steve gave us the address along with your number. See you Saturday!” said the other – Sam, I guessed. And then they hung up.
They didn’t leave a number so I couldn’t call them back. For that matter, they didn’t leave their last names. First names, a car (cool as it was) and burger preferences. That was all I knew. Yet I had just agreed to spend the weekend with them at the Cape.
At only 19, I hadn’t done too many stupid things with guys yet. So I called my older sister, Judy, 24, who had.
“This is ridiculous,” I told Judy, pacing back and forth across my tiny apartment like a bobcat in the zoo. “I can’t possibly go. I don’t know who they are. And I can’t possibly call them back – they didn’t leave their number. They didn’t leave their last names. They didn’t even tell me where I just agreed to go. God, this has all the makings of a Hitchcock picture.”
“Are you Tippi Hedren or Janet Leigh?” Jude roared at her own joke. “You’ve known these two cute guys for three years and never went out with them? Either of them? Or both of them – together?” she teased. “God you’re boring. You’d be Doris Day in a Hitchcock movie.”
“I’m just going to have to talk to them when they get here on Saturday.”
“Ok,” said Jude, swallowing her laugh. “You’ll talk to them on Saturday. Good plan,” she burst out again, “especially because you can’t talk with them before that because you didn’t get their number,” she said, gasping for breath.
I began to relax. Somehow, when I told my troubles to Judy, they stopped being problems and became situation comedy.
“You’re a huge help. I’ll call you back next time I need abuse.”
“Anytime,” Judy said, hanging up.
I spent Friday at work bouncing between laughing and worrying. I didn’t pack. Of course I wouldn’t go with them – I didn’t even know their last names!
At 10 am Saturday the doorbell rang. “Shit.”
“We’re here,” Dave or Sam said through the intercom system. Another reason not to go – I couldn’t keep them straight. I buzzed them in, and took a deep breath. I still didn’t know what to do.
Did it take an hour for them to climb the two flights or were they upstairs in a flash? Suddenly I felt queasy. “Oh God,” I thought as I shut the bathroom door, “what would Judy do?” I sat on the toilet for the longest time, trying not to panic. At last, I smiled, shrugged and said “oh, what the hell.” I walked back into the main room and said “I’m not quite done packing, but I’ll be just a minute.”
I threw a bathing suit, a change of clothes, and a couple of other things in a backpack. “There’s just one thing,” I said, smiling at my dates, “I’d love to drive the Z.”
* * *
This is a reposting. Today would have been my sister Judy’s Earth Day Birthday. I wish I could call her up and give her grief.
There are days when you just look your best. Most women I know can point to just a few times when the stars are aligned – when we are simply movie star beautiful. Every hair is in place (or perfectly out of place). The dress hangs just so; the pearls, even though fake, hang at just the right length. The dress accentuates the right things and hides the imperfections.
Perfect. Stunning. Memorable.
I had a new dress to wear that spring day in 1984 . I had waited to wear it until I needed the perfect combination of professional and sexy. This was it.
A meeting with clients in my DC office. Lunch with an old friend. A date.
So on that Friday morning I put my new dress on. After all my health problems and surgeries, I was finally looking pretty damn good again. But this was my best. And I knew it instantly. I would remember this day. Unusually, I primped in front of the mirror. Everything looked perfect.
The dress was black, with three-quarter sleeves. It hung straight at the sides with just the hint of a curve at my waist. The six-inch white stripe down the center added a little bit of elegance to the dress, and to me.
My shoes, slightly professional black pumps with two-inch heels, worked. The pearl necklace – yup a perfect accessory.
My curly reddish-blond hair was swept back into a French braid, but wisps of curls invariably straggled out, softening the lines around my face.
I looked like a movie star. At least as good as Marilyn.
Heads turned towards me as I walked to the metro. A man offered me his seat and then flirted with me until I got off. More heads turned as I walked the two blocks to work.
My office was at the end of the hall, and I passed my colleagues.
“You look great.”
“Got a date tonight?”
With each compliment, each appreciative look, I preened just a bit more. Smiled a little bit more. Walked a little taller. I couldn’t help it. I looked gorgeous!
When I arrived at my doorway, I turned to go in. I looked back down the hall feeling as if I’d gotten off the runway at the Paris fashion show.
Ed, the lawyer who sat in the office across from mine, got up from his desk to see me.
“Elyse!” Ed said. “Wow! You look like a movie star! You look just like Pepe Le Pew!”
See? I was a star. And a star’s a star.