Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Amy Winehouse's Mum Pens Missive

So, Amy Winehouse was recently wandering around London in her bra and jeans at 5:45 a.m. which can't be a good thing. Oh, she just got arrested for obstructing justice or something like that , what with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil already in jail. And all this on top of the Grammy nods...
Apparently Amy's folks are a tad concerned about the effect that fame has had on their daughter . Amy hasn't been listening to the mater lately, so her mum decided to post a heartfelt letter in the British tabloids to try to get through to the trainwreck that is her daughter.The letter does not seem to have worked.
Nevertheless, it's given me an idea. What's good enough for Janis Winehouse is certainly good enough for me. So here is my public epistle to my progeny:

Dear Abraham and Anna,
I thank you both from the bottom of my heart for not wandering around Los Angeles (Abe) or Philadelphia (Anna) in your underwear in the wee hours of the morning.
Love, Your Mother
P.S. Thanks also for not turning out like Jocelyn Kirsch .Now that's tsuris with a capital T.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Wendy Forman's interest in Jocelyn Kirsch is Scandalous

So when the Jocelyn Kirsch story broke [Drexel girl with fake boobs courtesy of her plastic surgeon dad becomes cyber-Bonnie to a Penn grad Clyde], it was only a matter of moments before fabulous Facebook had a group called "Jocelyn Kirsch is Scandalous". As soon as Abe emailed me about it, I joined up and got to view my itty-bitty Facebook photo and I.D. right below that of his and Anna's too. In our defense, I have to explain that our interest in the story is beyond the mere prurient; Jocelyn Kirsch is someone with whom David and I have had some minor business dealings. Our darling real estate agent/surrogate son Dave had acted as "property manager" for a condo we briefly owned three years ago; the flaky,annoying,obnoxious,bratty,late on her rent tenant-from-hell whom he rented it to was none other than the afore-mentioned Ms. Kirsch. Because David and I had no actual dealings with this whole real-estate debacle, we had never seen Jocelyn in person. It probably wouldn't have mattered, for identification purposes, because the Jocelyn who rented from us has since had , according to unimpeachable online sources, a rhinoplasty among other things reconstructive. To quote my late father-in-law,I guess she cut off her nose to spite her race. And about her now-ample bosom, the Drexel rumor mill states that the plastic-surgeon father sent her the silicon beauties as a "Christmas present". I have my suspicions about this. It was my impression that breast implants are not a D.I.Y. project and usually require a physician and some sort of medical facility. We may never know.
Not only do we have the curious and spurious connection with Jocelyn from her time at 2601 Parkway, but we also have the dubious distinction of living one block away from the Belgravia, the condo building that she and her boyfriend Edward lived in while they helped themselves to their neighbors' identities, credit cards, checkbooks, and whatever else wasn't nailed down. Just the other night, David was walking Nelly and noticed two local news vans parked outside,undoubtedly waiting for a glimpse of the new Bonnie and Clyde or perhaps one of their irate neighbors looking for a chance to rant.
Apparently the Ballad of Jocelyn and Ed has been picked up by the AP and every other wire service and Internet news source that's worth its weight in implants. Jocelyn, in her unending search for attention, has had herself photographed incessantly, all over the world, with her "Christmas presents" hanging out for all to see. A quick Google Image search can grant you a gallery's worth of Jocelyn, the homely mugshots juxtaposed ironically with the glam photos, like an offbeat take on the prototypical magazine makeover.
So I suppose if you look up "Schadenfreude" in the dictionary you'll find the definition, "people who have known and loathed Jocelyn Kirsch and are now happily blogging about it". Facebook has certainly contributed its bit towards documenting the life and legend of this modern-day Bonnie. In addition to the group my well-educated children and I belong to ("Jocelyn Kirsch is Scandalous") there is also a Facebook group, which I just now joined "Jocelyn Kirsch is Going to JAAAAIL (and it's hilarious)" or something like that.
Jocelyn and Ed, who are currently out on a whole lot of bail, will be returning to Philly in February for sentencing. The word on the street is that once again white privilege will talk and they will walk. It's hard to say. The Feds may get involved because of the little issue of the Spyware they installed to hack into other people's computers to help finance their spending sprees, and in that case they may get the book thrown at them. Coincidentally, I'm scheduled for jury duty around that time. Stay tuned, dear readers, for even in the gray days of a Philadelphia winter,things may be looking up!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So I put my sorry old ass on Facebook after reading a fascinating article about it in one of the plethora of magazines which we receive,unbidden, at our office. The article explained the genesis of the Facebook phenomenon and I was intrigued by it. Also, you don't really need an invitation to get on (very egalitarian, I must say) and so I jumped right in.
One of the first things you're supposed to do, especially if you are under 30 years old,is to import a photo of yourself into an itty-bitty box which keeps appearing and reappearing whenever you send anything out from your page. Because I am both 60 and technologically-impaired due to a genetic complication inherited from my mother who cannot yet grasp the concept of the digital clock nor even the radio, I spent what was probably too much time locating a picture and importing it. All I could find was one of me and David together so it may seem as if my identity and his have somehow fused, which is understandable given that our 38th anniversary is approaching. I then added a few random autobiographical details and some likes and dislikes regarding literature and cinema, as I was prompted to do. Then I clicked the button and, voila!, I was 'Booked.
This amazing site has a brilliant feature which enables it to automatically search through one's email address book, pick out the people already on Facebook, and allow you to "invite" them to be your "friends". Another clever gizmo searches through your classmates from college and high school. Well, none of my classmates appeared. It could be that maybe, after all these years, I am the absolute hippest and coolest individual from Grinnell College class of '68. A few other explanations for their absence from Facebook might be that my compatriots are too busy (according to the class notes for the upcoming 40th reunion)working at their high-level jobs, visiting their adorable grandchildren , or dying.In my humble opinion, the answer is the first. Some people obviously hit their hipness stride early; they peak and go straight downhill. Others, such as I, are the late bloomers. The VERY late bloomers..
In terms of my personal email address book, the site spit out only two names. One was a guy we know from the Square who has a precious dog named Gus. The other was a certain Zachary Pelta-Heller, my esteemed son-in-law. I decided to barrel-ass right on in and I posted a note on Zack's "Wall". Please do not make me explain this feature; all I know is that everyone has this wall about three-quarters down the page and I guess it is a kind of public statement for all viewers to read.
I waited patiently but my daughter's husband failed to respond to this brash act. Had I committed a Facebook faux pas? Could it be that this lovely young man whom I consider a surrogate son could not find it in his heart to be my "friend"? Would being on Facebook cause me to have to take a half a Xanax? Oy.
A few days later I got a call from my actual son. It's a cyber-mystery to me how he found out but, using his cautious and concerned tone, he inquired very politely why I had decided to go on Facebook? It was a tone similar to the one used by his sister when she inquires, after one of my charming memory lapses, if it's time yet "for the home". I explained about the Newsweek article and then offered the excuse that I thought it would be helpful prior to the election as an organizing tool for me to find others who share my candidate preferences.
Soon after that Zack did respond and by then I was up to 3 friends...my son, daughter, and now my son-in-law. It seems that he hadn't seen my wall posting and thus his silence meant nothing about our relationship after all. He also sounded a tad quizzical about my debut on Facebook, but without the tone.
Then I got an invitation to be Alisa's friend. She is a good friend of Anna and Zack's from college and I had the paranoid thought that Zack begged her to send me the offer because I had moaned to him about my Facebook unpopularity. It turns out that she "adores" the fact that I joined. After that, McKenna, whom I've known since she was 4, invited me too and she even posted something on my wall.
In ways that remain mysterious to me, others found out as well, and David's cousin's wife Stacey, my new friend Marie, and several others have bestowed their friendship upon me.
Something I love about Facebook is that there are lots of subgroups to belong to.They are a topic for another post someday, if I can spare the time away from my virtual friends. Excuse me while I 'book on outta here......

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Some people who are, for the most part, not in my family like to participate in adrenaline sports. The closest we've ever come to such a thing is the zip-lining adventure that we did over an extremely deep chasm in the rain forest of Costa Rica. Looking back on that event with a clinical eye, the only explanation I can offer for how it came about is group psychosis. There exists photographic evidence of certain family members, helmeted and hooked up to the cable, the expression on their faces not unlike the famous painting of "The Scream", only much much worse. For reasons that I cannot begin to understand or explain, I (Wendy the Whimpering Wuss) absolutely loved the entire thing, swinging and swaying, gazing down through the drizzle, feeling at one with the exquisite enormity of nature and wanting to zip on forever. The majority of us Greenwalds enjoy somewhat less taxing and frightening vacations. One senior member of the clan actually believes that being without one's Blackberry or cellphone service is an adrenaline sport in and of itself.
So it's a bit counter-intuitive that the lot of us, with a number of demonstrable fears lurking within the group, wound up in Africa, up close and personal with wild animals, to say nothing of a vertiginous view of Victoria Falls, and a lot of traveling about in tiny aircraft. It's with the aircraft that I will begin.
Most people I know who have fear of flying tend to avoid airplanes like the plague. At least two of our group are somewhat terrified of air travel, and a few more seem to dislike it as a preferred mode of getting from point A to point B. There was also some aeronausiphobia going around and illyngophobia reared its ugly head now and then.
Nevertheless, the "camps" we were booked into could only be reached by small airplanes which skidded onto rather primitive airstrips distinguishable from the surrounding bush only by a lone waving windsock. Since there were 13 of us in the group, three would volunteer to accompany the pilot into the small 3-seater (with one of us seated co-pilotlike up front). It's not as if the other plane was all that huge (usually a 12-seater) but for the aviophobes it was the lesser of two evils. It was a real testament to their fortitude that they dealt with this aspect of the journey without benefit of alcohol or tranquilizers and with a great deal of aplomb.
Even though most of us weren't too frightened during the open jeep rides to watch the beasts where they lived and cavorted, the presence of said animals wandering in and around camp resulted in occasional agrizoophobia, as evidenced by some sleepless nights and general jumpiness. Although we never actually saw any snakes, certain of my relatives expressed some transient ophidiophobia. During our crouched but exciting stay in the elephant blind (called "hide") a few wasps flew into the enclosure, which brought up some latent spheksophobia within the group. These fears were eclipsed by the almost magical sight of a baby elephant, just one week old, who didn't yet know how to use its trunk. It dunked its whole head under water to get a drink and then leaned up to nurse on its mother's gigantic teat.
Lest it seem like I was the only member of the clan without a phobia to call my own, I confess to a slight frigophobia. Every morning for the chilly game drives I dressed myself in long winter underwear,long-sleeved shirt,sweat pants, old wool sweater, sweatshirt,watchcap,scarf, and gloves and then I polished off this gorgeous look with my brown overjacket and a flannel-lined poncho.As the sun came up I peeled off the layers until it was time to go to bed, where I so feared the cold that I added extra blankets and David donated his hot water bottle to mine, to stave off my shivers.
I'm delighted to report that not one of us has even the slightest case of syngenesophobia; we were able to spend two long weeks in each others' presence almost 24/7 and still enjoy the company of relatives. A big shout-out to Robert and Heidi for making it all possible and giving the younger generation a jeepload of memories to discuss long after their elders are gone.

Fear of flying: aviophobia,aviatophobia,pteromerhanophobia
Fear of vertigo or dizziness: illyngophobia
Fear of airsickness: aeronausiphobia
Fear of wild animals: agrizoophobia
Fear of wasps: spheksophobia
Fear of snakes: ophidiophobia
Fear of relatives: syngenesophobia

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


You get to know a lot about your extended family when you're on safari for 2 weeks, much of the time in Botswana in a protected wild game preserve where you can go mano a paw with some really big cats, to say nothing of a dazzle of zebra, a pod of hippos, and... but I'm getting ahead of myself. When you travel with a group of 13 people (or pee-ple, as the case may be) you find out that some of us need to void our bladders more than others. Which in itself is not a noteworthy thing, unless the voiding needs to be done squatting behind a jackleberry bush or even, oh yayss as the South Africans say, on the edge of a one-lane airstrip. Ahh, the memory of a small plane of incoming strangers suddenly zooming in for their landing, surprised,that their first view on safari is not of a wild beast but of my naked behind, as I struggle to wipe myself, stuff the used T.P. into a small brown waxed bag, and jump up from a squat,accompanied by the hysterical laughter of my pride of nieces, daughter, and daughter-in-law, since they are more spry and were already zipping up their flies at the moment of my ignominy.
You'd think that an easy solution would have been to severely limit one's intake of liquid; however, that quickly led to dehydration which was even worse than having to pee in full view of baboons, who are real jokesters to begin with.
Now I'm not naming any names here, but there were a few human camels in our group (none with any Greenwald DNA) and they were remarkably sanguine about the constant requests for the guide to find a "safe" place in the bush, and let the pissers out for yet another elimination round. In fact, camels were one of the few species of wild animals NOT represented in the three fly-in safari camps we frequented. Giraffes,though, have a bit of a hump; they are listed in the Antelope family on the provided checklist. Who knew? Prior to this trip, I couldn't tell a Roan antelope from a Tsetsebbe, or something like that. Now I'm a mini-expert, shooting the shit with the best of them. I also know that an impala's poop is called midden which appears in neat piles all over to mark their territory.
Speaking of marking one's territory, maybe at this moment there is a pride of lions somewhere in the Okavango Delta sniffing all the places where my "cubs" and I
relieved ourselves so often last week. Meanwhile, the Greenwalds are all back in our real lives,using toilets instead of trees,reluctantly and alone.

[Tune in soon for the next episode: " A PHOBIA OF GREENWALDS"]

Friday, May 11, 2007


One of my earliest memories of my grandmom, Anna, was her Sunday
morning ritual of sitting upright and tense on the studio couch in her
bedroom watching "Meet the Press" moderated by Lawrence E.Spivack . For
my radical and highly political grandmother, television was an
interactive activity. She kept a running dialogue going, giving
positive shout-outs when she liked the politics of the guest and
hurling invective when she didn't. Her favorite epithet was "Rahk-shun-air", which I later figured out meant "Reactionary" in Yiddish.When she was particularly disgusted, she added a "Feh" or two. There is simply no English equivalent.

As a young child, I often cuddled up next to her and we watched TV
together. When I was in first grade (TV was still an exciting
innovation in 1953)the teacher asked us to tell our favorite show. At
the parent-teacher conference, Miss Bradley told my mom and dad, with
some concern, that while most of the kids had answered "Howdy-Doody", I had piped up with "John Cameron Swayze and the News"!

So it should come as no surprise that one of the things that my husband
David and I found out during our courtship,was that, especially during
election cycles, politicians appear in our dreams. I remember a whole
series involving George McGovern which was,as it transpired, the only
place that he did well.A few years ago I had a very vivid dream that
one of my best friends came to me all atwitter to confess that she had
embarked on a thrilling extra-marital affair. The amazing part was that
her paramour was none other than Michael Nutter. The more amazing part
was that this was even before he was running for mayor. In
reality,Michael Nutter is much too homely and nerdy to incite my friend
to break her marital vows ,and even in the dream I was surprised. Now,
just days before the Primary, I'm taking it as a sign that this was, in
some Freudian way prescient and that my man Michael will prevail. But
just in case, I will be working the polls!

And what a while ago might have seemed to be a dream, yesterday became a reality. My brother-in-law, Robert Greenwald
appeared before the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations
Committee, testifying about the issue of war profiteering. Abe sent me a link
to a video clip of part of the hearing
[http://movies.crooksandliars.com/Greenwald-Kingston.mov] so I got to
see a member of my family talking truth to power. I also got to see my
brother-in-law wearing a suit and tie; thank God, his glasses were
perched on his pate or I might not have recognized him.

Last night
I had a dream that I was watching CNN with a bunch of people huddled in
a gas station in the middle of nowhere. There was some sort of natural
disaster going on and the TV was showing a brand-new road being washed
out and this somehow,in that weird and unclear way of dreams, caused
some deaths. Several people in the crowd were yelling back to the TV,
something about this road being a boondoggle for rich concrete
manufacturers. A couple of tall frat-boys said that, hey, the
government has to help rich people make money and if some people had to
die, so be it. At this point I strode to my car and heard a disembodied
voice saying loudly "The truth shall set them free". I was declaiming
to no one in particular "This is the beauty of our democracy; we can
hear the truth". Then the voice said to me,"What difference does it
make if we can broadcast the truth if no one cares?" At this moment the
large poodle shifted at my feet and I awoke.

I wish I could tell Grandmom about the dream. She would probably hiss her most sibilant epithet, "KAHPITALEESSSSSTS". I found out that John McCain will be Tim Russssssert's guest on "Meet the Press" this Sunday. I can just hear her now. "Feh! If he the best thing the 'Repooblikahners' have to offer then we're in good shape for '08" According to Anna Miller,at least, THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Curly Girl

Until I turned thirteen and began to menstruate, my hair was poker
straight. When I was five years old, in the early 1950's, it was illegal for little girls to have thin, stringy hair, or at least this was what my mother had been led to believe. To rectify this situation before she was arrested by the fashion police, Mom decided to inflict a Toni home permanent on me. The end result made me look as if I had
stuck my wet finger into an electrical outlet. I refused to go to
kindergarten for three days and then only with the proviso that I be allowed
to wear my sundress with the matching hat that tied under my chin. The
perm eventually grew out and my hair got straight again until the onset
of adolescence.

So on the day that I officially became a woman and my hair went wavy,
curly hair was out and straight was back in. [I will not digress into a
philosophical discourse here about Life and Its
Eternal Unfairness; I really would like to do so, but I am painfully aware that
there are several more important issues with which to concern myself such
as the ongoing war in Iraq and getting Michael Nutter elected mayor of
In the throes of a totally Freudian repetition compulsion, I continually threw myself at the mercy of a series of sadistic
hairdressers and submitted to their torturous procedures and put-downs. I would often
go to bed with my lacklustre locks wrapped around large empty orange
juice cans which would "straighten" out the curls; by mid-morning, my
head would be a frizzy mess and there would be a kink in my neck from
attempting to sleep on
large metal cylinders.Once one of the girls in my dorm actually
ironed my hair. It's a miracle I'm not totally bald.
On my wedding day I went to a psychopath at the monumentally snotty salon at Henri Bendel's and he declaimed to his colleagues, as if I were not actually present, "Does she expect me to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?"

To reduce the possibility of re-triggering trauma, I will fast-forward from my 20's to the decade of my50's (fast coming to a close). I think it was my daughter Anna who
turned me on to the Curly Girl book and the salon called Devachan in SoHo (www.devachansalon.com) A whole philosophy had emerged, which encouraged embracing one's inner curly girl; along with the philosophy came a number of expensive products to nurture one's curls. There's NoPoo and LoPoo and AnGell and SetItFree. I was an instant convert. I began taking the Chinatown bus to New York to go to the mother church of curl cutting. I sounded like a true believer and proselytized anyone with curls who would listen.
Alas, I am simply a congenital atheist. It transpired that once my kids and their significant others moved out of New York, I abruptly stopped my quarterly treks to SoHo. I guess it was the lunch with the kids (and the Jack Russell) at Spring St. Natural after the haircut that really drew me in and not the Curly Girl mecca after all.[I once had a Unitarian friend who was married to a Jew. For a while, they took their kids to both houses of worship. She told me ruefully that her kids ultimately chose the Temple because the Oneg Shabbat had better cookies.]
Now that Anna and her gorgeous head of curls moved to Philly, we've been on a quest to find the next great curl stylist. We tried the guy on 19th St. who proclaims himself the curly king by means of a storefront-sized blowup of a newspaper article about his skill with the scissors. Our haircuts were fine but neither of us could bear his bombast. He simply couldn't or wouldn't shut up,and his prices rivalled New York's. Now I am a Philly chauvinist and all, but I still bristle at someone in CenterCity charging like Manhattan.
Recently I went to see Fiorella at Oggi. She was clearly appalled as she ran her fingers disdainfully through my overgrown frizzy hair. She immediately bombarded me with her strong stance on curls; it was total apostasy. "NEVER,NEVER,NEVER use conditioner. ALWAYS comb through your curls." I felt like a devout Catholic finding out that the Pope was suddenly advocating abortions for priests' wives!I tried to defend CurlyGirl but she dismissed my interlocutions with an imperious wave of her shears. I sat, abject and silent, admiring my new haircut, but wondering if I could stand to come back again. After all, I had gone to my favorite dentist for 30 years even though he was a rightwing fundamentalist Christian. On the other hand, he had never once tried to convert me AND he did his own periodontia.
Anna chose her latest stylist cause he was cheap. Since her hair would look good if it were cut by a riding mower, I can't really go by her recommendations. She mentioned in passing she didn't like her guy either. David,eavesdropping on our conversation,proclaimed that we never like any of our hairdressers. It seems unlikely that a man, follically-challenged or not, could even begin to appreciate the complexities of the relationship of a woman to her stylista. We didn't even try to explain.
In a month or so, when I'm looking shaggy again, I can always check out one of the million or so salons in Center City. I still have the audacity of hope that there is someone around here who can do wonders with my hair and do it quietly. In the meantime I will be working the primary on the 15th and after that I'll be impeaching the president. Excuse me while I spritz my curls with SetItFree; THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!