Writing for Newspapers
During my tenure at the San Diego Reader, I regularly trotted out my family as fodder for making sense of my past. No one was safe, least of all me.
When we were all in his house, sitting at his table — children closest, wife farthest away — Moe held court at family dinners: Thanksgiving, Passover, summer barbecues, birthday parties.
As he told his jokes and charmed our friends with his stories, we beamed. At least four of us did. Not being his child relegated my mother to outsider status. She was neither as smart as we were, according to Moe, nor as besotted.
Can Still Make Me Cry
The Summer Diet
of Donna Delicious
He lived in the city’s “old money” neighborhood and went to a private prep school. He drove a Lotus, wore hats, and listened to Sly and the Family Stone, my sister’s (and thus my) introduction to soul music. It took him nearly an hour each way to arrive at our house in the suburbs that summer, boutonniere on his lapel and a corsage under his arm for her.
The date included a stop at the Conga Room, the Starlight Roof, or the Top of the Mark, where they ordered daiquiris and mai tais. I don’t know how they got served, at 15 and 17, but they did; she's got the cocktail napkins to prove it.
Bam & Crak
“They still play mah-jongg?” a native New Yorker asks me. “I always wondered how an ancient Chinese game got into the hands of suburban Jewish women.”
Mah-jongg’s American origins interweave two immigrant cultures — Chinese and Jewish — then separate them by rules, styles, and traditions.
What remains is connection: the camara-derie and the constancy that give the game its glue, whether you’re playing by Hong Kong rules or those handed down by the National Mah Jongg League in New York.
For all the wannabe swank spots in San Diego — mid-century rehabs downtown, original joints along El Cajon — when I want anachronism, I push my tush onto a sleek, white leather bar stool at Laurel.
From my perch I can see Swinging London, Paris hip-chic, Mad Men's New York, and those early-’60s suits.
"Do you think you're pretty?"
A strip of tawny brown hair, chewed at the ends, dawdles by her nose. She stands at the top of the stairs and tilts her head to the side, flipping the errant strand into submission and stealing a sideways glance at her cohort, Angela, fawning lieutenant of the gum-snapping sort. (I will later think of Angela whenever some '50s-era Brooklyn whine nasals out from beneath a beehive hairdo— even though it's 1972, we live in California, and Angela's hair, though ratty, is not ratted.)
"Well, do you?"
These are just samples of my work at the Reader. To read more: