In second grade I loved my teacher, Mrs. Rhineheimer so much that I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. After all she didn’t rat me out to my mom when I were my jelly sandals to school in the middle of Detroit winter (this says two things: one, my mom obviously was a working woman and wasn’t around when I left for school and two, I have ALWAYS loved shoes). Mrs Rhineheimer responded, “Kid, if you can get me Paul Newman, I’d be a happy woman.”
There began my love for Paul Newman. Not in the “can you be my man in my head” way (though “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” Newman would not be shut down), but in the humanitarian/artist way. Shortly after second grade, I was at home one Sunday on a nondescript Detroit Sunday morning. Back in those days, our five channels were interesting. Classic movies at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm, right before the Star Trek reruns or (if I got lucky), “In Search Of…” (which served as my horror movies - I wouldn’t drink Kool-Aid for years after that show featured Jim Jones and Guayana mass homicide). “Cool Hand Luke” came on. Now, normally my mom would watch football. But even that took a backseat to Paul Newman. Even in grade school I got it. Paul made that poor sap Luke a real life character for me. There was absolutely no “failure to communicate.” I was hooked after that. I’d watch anything Paul Newman did. Even before I decided I wanted to be a story teller, I was watching how HE told a story through his eyes, his mannerisms, his subtlties. He was in a good league in my head - Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Ruby Dee, Abbey Lincoln, Ms. Carroll, Sidney Poitier…those were my artists friends before I really had any.
As I got older, my admiration grew for Paul Newman. Not because I got particularly wiser but because he did. His inability to take himself too seriously led to Newman’s Own - he made us philanthropists through popcorn, spaghetti sauce and salad dressing. All you had to do was look for his face and you were giving back to terminally ill kids - completely. He took no profits of his own.
Then you read about he and Joanne Woodward. Now, I came to her separately. “The Three Faces of Eve” came on one Detroit Sunday right after I just read “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” and I was fascinated with multiple personality disorder. The first thing I remember about her was that she was no Marilyn Monroe or Earth Kitt but you couldn’t take your eyes off her. When she was the sexy Eve, she WAS sexy. Then “The Long Hot Summer” came on and I was absolutely convinced these two people HAD to be together (this was before the internet, kids). I was right. Art aside, their relationship has really been the wrapping paper deal I’ve been looking for all my life. They weren’t ostentatious with their love. There was no Enquirer business about them having a wedding, then not, then marrying other people (I still remember Bennifer - mostly because of those damn videos and that ENTIRE album that girl recorded about that guy - jeez). He adored her because she is smart. She’s part of that group with the 100 plus IQ business (jealous - but happily jealous). Their lives existed in Connecticut. Her career dimmed a little but not much because she did what she had to do at home and he never was unappreciative. That’s all we know aside from their decades long marriage (that was the second for each - probably the closest scandal you might get to) and that’s fine by me. That’s all I need to remember my own value in any relationship.
To further the Newman impact, I could go into each one of his movies but that’s not my deal That’s why there’s Netflix. I do remember “The Verdict” leaving me breathless and thinking the chemistry between Patricia Neal and Newman in “Hud” was sexier than any Playboy magazine out there. Now THAT was a cougar - Patricia Neal. And what nimrod would say they wouldn’t want to be the third wheel in any Newman/Redford movie. That was the Pitt/Clooney before there was even mention of Amalfi or multiple nanny payrolls.
I have to say that I kind of selected Sarah Lawrence because I knew the Newman/Woodward connection. That would be as close as I’d get, Mrs. Rhineheimer. Had I gotten the chance I would’ve told him what you said but remember the story about the lady who saw him in an ice cream shop and got so flustered that he had to tell her, “Lady, you just put your ice cream in your purse”, I don’t think I would’ve been the best rep for you.
Rest in peace, Terrier.
Okay so you obviously know who I’m going to vote for in the next 40 days. Got it. I read stuff, I make my own decisions, I use common sense. I met a woman, older, who says that in her day, everyone supported the President and nobody said a word against him because it looked bad to the rest of the world. So, for that reason, she simply said she was a Republican (duh!) and had the habit of not mixing politics and alcohol (could be boring, could be a riproaring good time, depending on the company - that’s what I said).
I must say this though. There are some wacky wack jobs out there who are about to vote. I really can’t make this unbiased because the only wacky wack jobs I think that are voting for Obama are the ones who just vote for him because he’s black. But then that opens the door to the ones who say they aren’t voting for him because he’s black PLUS use slurs to accommpany said argument (and you thought racism was dead, you head in the sanders). This is straight from a Yahoo News correspondent on your beloved right wing Fox News. Did Fox news reporter interviewing Yahoo Man ask about the race issues? No! She just went ahead and asked him to breakdown, in a right wing favorable fashion, how Obama’s lead wasn’t really a lead but a slow down. Okay, great. The french fries I had last night were not bad for me. They were potatos from the earth.
Back to my point. On NPR (Thanks to the man at home, I have to get my news everywhere, including crazy Fox News and their bleached Country Club mentality) yesterday, there were a bunch of Latino Veterans in Colorado, expressing their undying love for McCain because he was a veteran. They even started slamming Michelle Obama because she was on some board of a parent company that closed down some random pickle factory. Okay. Hold please. My dad was a veteran. It is obvious in this blog how much I adore my father. My brother is still in the military. My beau was in the reserves. None of those upstanding men would make a great president just because they served. There is no special Genius test they give you to enter either the military, college, Wall Street or any other club that people seem to glorify. Those places are full of regular joes, admirable people and losers too. Said Latino Vets had not one thing intelligent to say about McCain’s immigration policy (which wouldn’t be so good for them, PS) or Palin’s inability to answer a straight question let alone her other issues or his other issues with the 15k a month from Freddie Mac campaign manager.
Okay I can’t focus the obvious and already reported stuff. This is about those people who make excuses and rationalize obvious crazy behavior. The human mind is basically what we are voting on. It isn’t issues or economy or anything of the sort. We are sometimes as dumbed down as we seem.
Contraty to belief, I am not a McCain hater. How I feel about McCain is how I would if there was a Columbine survivor who was running for President and didn’t know the issues. I would just say, “Come clean, dude. You really don’t know much about this stuff, huh?” And I would hope they would sheepishly shake their head, eyes full of ernest good intentions, and then they would just withdraw.
That’s my dream anyway.
But you guys can go on and rationalize how you’re trying to make the world in your head the one that’s around you. It will just frustrate you in the long run.
Yes we can.
This time seven years ago, I was on the train to work. I was on the 1 train getting off at 50th Street, annoyed and tired - my usual response to working sometimes. There was a female cop on my right hand side as I battled through the massive crowd that tried to converge into an almost single file line up the stairs to Broadway. Her walkie talkie was screaming loud something that sounded distressful. I do remember that. I also remember, being an adopted New Yorker, that I quickly stopped listening and went on about my morning. I thought about grabbing my favorite breakfast sandwich from the almost Subway place across 50th - turkey, egg and cheese on an english muffin - but I decided to drop my stuff off first. My boss, Robby Sussman, was in his office watching a plane go through the World Trade Center.
“Look at this, T. Tara,” he said, both of us unsure of what we were watching. He had the nervous grin on his face. I think I did too. We thought we were watching something not real.
Eventually we all figured out it was real. The rest of my department came in - Brenda, Mark, Stuart and Bobby. Robby decided we should all get a closer look so we left and kept walking, wondering outloud, muttering, watching people look up in the sky, confused. I had no money on me and I was STARVING. At some point I reached into my bag and found an abandoned Zone bar (my nutrionist taught me well) because I felt faint. In my mind, we’d find out it was some Orson Welles hoax and we’d laugh about it later. Some Hollywood type decided it would be funny to show how vulnerable we were and we’d all feel pissed but jovial later. That’s what I thought. We made our way over to the west side and soon we were in front of the Javitz Center. Robby, more of a kid than a leader, thought we could a better look over there. Then it hit us like a ton of breaks. A few sentences from a cop shook us back to where we needed to be.
“What the hell are you doing over here? That building is GLASS and a plane just went through the World Trade Center! Get out of here!”
Plane. Glass. Building. People. We ran.
We ran back to the office, quietly. Scared. Even the MTV crowd - usually cemented to 1515 Broadway in hopes of becoming discovered - had vanished. By the time we reached our floor people were wandering around looking at each other trying to figure out what to do. We had no plan for this. There was no alarm that told us to walk out down the stairs single file. The executives rapidly tried to put something together - “hotel rooms for those who can’t get home?” or “how should we get home?” There were no trains for obvious reasons. Slowly some of us figured we had to go it alone. I went to my desk to try and call my parents. I couldn’t get through. I tried using my cellphone and it sounded the same - broken. My desk phone rang and it was my best friend from childhood, Kerry, crying. Asking if I was alright. Nobody back home in Detroit knew where the World Trade Center was in relation to my office. I started to cry when I heard her cry. I said I was alright. I said I’d call later. I called my mom, who was crying too, finally able to get through. I told her I was fine and I’d call later. I didn’t feel like I could really breakdown until I talked to my dad. My dad who could save me from anything. He comforted me. Told me to be safe. To watch for things. To try and call later. To get home. Home was approximately 75 blocks from where I was. There were no buses, no trains. I tried to call Marcella but couldn’t get through. She and I would revisit this scenario a year later during the brown out of that summer but it would be different then - then we would choose not to think of danger, but decide to walk up together, grab some wine coolers, clown people climbing on the back of buses, part ways and suffer in the heat with no electricity.
But back to this day. Jen decided to stay at the office with a group of people and I knew that was not my bag so I left with Mark who lived uptown as well. I don’t remember what we talked about since we didn’t have much in common - he was older than me, Jewish, about to get married, going with the script of his life he thought he should follow. I don’t even remember who I was dating then but I know there was nobody close enough who called to check on me. It may have been the Raisin I was dating in which case it would make sense that he wouldn’t call and check on me as he was not much of a calller or a checker-on-me type anyway (spoiler - he sucked). Mark and I followed a group of people uptown like zombies. We took Broadway, then took Central Park West, thinking the park would be safe since there weren’t that many buildings around. Somehow we merged on to Columbus because Mark was pointing out places that would be good to eat at some point. I remember that my flip flop was broken and it annoyed me. I had to change how I walked. I was mad at myself for wearing them but I had no idea this would be that kind of day where I’d need to walk this long - but sometimes I would need to walk anyway in New York - to clear my head, to soak in the city, to watch things happen around me. Mark and I parted ways when we got to the 90s. That’s where he lived. I kept going, starving. Me and a slowly tapering off group of people. I knew that the Jersey crew were making their way to the George Washington Bridge - that some were trying to find cabs to share. I was reminded of the movie “The Wiz” where Dorothy and crew keep trying to take the cabs that pull off as soon as they get close. In the end they finally keep walking past the cabs, deciding to just rely on themselves. That’s what I felt like. The only place open to eat was a pizza place on 110th and Amsterdam. It was gross. There was a line. I left. I got to Lenox and grabbed some salad and some Jamaican patties from a rastafarian hole in the wall that nobody but neighborhood people would know about. In a daze, I thought it would be good to have some for later so I bought more than I could eat then. I finally got home, still unable to call anyone.
I sat on my couch, alone, until my friend Kamilah who couldn’t get to Brooklyn came over. I don’t remember what we said, if anything. I remember us sitting there. Then I remember her leaving. I turned on CNN. And there I stayed for a few days. Just like that. On the couch. Watching CNN. I looked out my window and thought about how many people we were breathing in as the dust made its way uptown. Morbid but true. At night, scared and alone, I’d feel my eyes sag down my cheeks. I wouldn’t sleep. I couldn’t. Not for more than thirty minutes at a time. I’m not sure how I figured out we could go back to work or when I did but the weeks and months to follow were agonizing. We all slowly made our way back into the world - sharing crazy stories like Maritri having just taken the last Path train from the World Trade Center to Jersey before the plane hit. I had some Sundance Channel coworkers who were married to Wall Street men. They spent that fall going to funerals. We organized provisions for those at Ground Zero searching for people - socks, toothpaste, underwear, bandaids. I took up a collection at work, went to Rite Aid and bought whatever sounded good, dropping the bags off at the fire station on 8th Ave. What was to follow wouldn’t ever be the same. I had fits of crying, insomnia, agitation. I didn’t know anybody personally who died but I felt close to a fire and singed. I stopped talking to some people that I couldn’t tolerate. My own dramatic Gypsy Rose Lee cousin who liked to call me in the middle of the night was cut off. She called to ask me what she should do about some prince in another country who wanted to marry her but his family didn’t want him to. I told her that I was tired. My life had changed. I was nine elevened and this really wasn’t a good time. But she was suffering she said, or something like that. I told her there were dead people waiting in my city or something like that. I hung up. There was a blue tint in my bedroom from the moon. I lay awake looking at the moon.