Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It Still Makes Me Mad

I’m still angry at people who successfully put one over on me. Conscience-less people.
Like a guy named Baum. At Medical Economics magazine.
I was in charge of a real-estate issue, and I found a doctor who had a stream running through his house and was eager to be interviewed.
I asked Baum to write the story. He came back and said he had called the doctor and there was no story – nothing to it. I believed him.
A year later, he wrote up the story for a general issue of Medical Economics – so he would get credit for discovering such a good story.
I told an editor what Baum had done—the editor just shook his head, couldn’t believe it had happened.
It still makes me mad.
I’m told that whenever a certain famous actor (name to come) sees Baum at the Actor’s Club in NYC, he tries to punch him. No one knows why.
I suspect that I know why.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Harriet in Chicago

Harriet, a medical writer I worked with, covered a meeting in Chicago, then took a cab to the airport.

Along the way, the cabdriver turned around and said, Give me all your money.

Frightened, she gave him her money.

The cabdriver drove to the airport, drove up to a cop, and said, This passenger says she has no money to pay me.

The cop generously decided to let Harriet take her plane home without “paying” the cabdriver.

Harriet suspects that the cop and cabdriver had a nice racket going.

(This was many years ago.)

Monday, May 29, 2006


Local governments are starved for money, which may be why the cops are giving out summonses like crazy, especially (it seems to me) to drivers not wearing seat belts. Drive past a cop car, and the cop focuses on whether you're wearing a belt or not. And the fines are through the roof! (I've been victimized.)

In Kingston, NY, a weird female cop stopped me. She said that I had been hitting my brake repeatedly. Huh? That's why she pulled me over. "Do you know why I stopped you?" she asked. "I wasn't speeding," I said. "You said I had been hitting my brake." "I pulled you over because you weren't wearing a seat belt." Huh? "Where are you coming from?" She asked the question twice; I gave her the same answer twice. Then she asked my son, in the passenger seat, "Do you have a license?" He seemed puzzled, but answered yes.

One weird cop.

As a reporter, I've worked with cops--and many of them are "nice guys."

But...when I was a little kid, I got lost. A girl who was supposed to take care of me deliberately ran away from me. I wound up in a police station. "The next time you're here," an old cop said to me, "we're going to throw you in jail. With rats."
Not a nice thing to say to a child of 5. I was terrified.

New York cops are the worst. I was stopped for (what else?) not wearing a seat belt--along with several others. As I was waiting, I got out of the car--my back was hurting. "GET BACK IN THE CAR!" a cop yelled.

Another time, in New York, I saw that a man atop a building's roof was yelling--I thought he needed help. I went over to a cop. "That man is yelling." "He's yelling?" he replied sarcastically. "Yes, he's..." The cop had this nasty look on his face. I walked away. I should have gotten his name.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Top-notch -- Elizabeth and Mary. I knew a little about Elizabeth and Mary, but this wonderful book (by Jane Dunn) fills in the details--and God, as you know, is in the details. What a great deal I didn't know! Such as that, at the last minute, Elizabeth wanted her supporters to murder Mary and make it appear as if she had died of natural causes. (They declined.) Mary comes off very badly--a liar, a schemer, a possible murderess, a would-be murderess. I suppose that the exquisitely delightful possibility of becoming queen of England and Scotland unhinged her. She and Elizabeth never met -- Elizabeth apparently being afraid of her charm.
What a violent period!

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I told Jane Bryant Quinn that Sylvia Porter was easily threatened by other writers, and resented the idea of someone ever taking her place as well as resenting rivals.

Sylvia didn't like me, said Jane.

That sounds like Sylvia, I said.

She laughed.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jane Austen

Did I write this already? Her first novel, Northanger Abby, was purchased for 10 pounds or so, but the publisher wouldn't publish it--or return it without getting his 10 pounds back.

She had submitted the ms. under the name "A Lady" (or something).

So...the publisher held the novel for 13 (thirteen!) years.

Then Jane's brother ransomed the novel, for 10 pounds.

And as he was leaving, he told the publisher...the author of this novel went on to write such celebrated novels as Mansfield Park, Pride & Prejudice, and Emma.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Funny Line

On "Numbers," a white cop and a black cop go into a bar--filled with Asians, males and females--

the white cop says to the black cop, "We're the only white people here"--

Friday, May 12, 2006


The publisher's assistant emails me a note: I have not submitted the receipts for my expenses. She sends copies of the email to the editor and the head of human resources.

I email back: I DID attach my receipts.

Eventually she emails me: Someone gave her my receipts.

She does NOT copy the editor and the head of human resources.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


When I covered real estate for the Bergen Record, a Big Cheese in real estate said to me:

"We tried to get you fired. That didn't work. Then we gave you a plaque--we tried to compliment you. That didn't work, either. Nothing worked."

I replied jokingly, "You should have tried the old-fashioned money-under-the-table."

I still have the plaque.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I was working for AT&T-- for Western Electric. In the PR Department. In my 20s.
It was raining. I told a young man --a veteran at Western Electric--that I envied his bringing an umbrella to work -- we were at the time preparing to go outside.

"Even an umbrella doesn't protect the bottom of your trousers," he said with annoyance. "Even with a raincoat, your shoes get wet."

I was startled. And I thought about it. And concluded that I didn't want to work with people so concerned about the bottoms of their trousers.

Someone I worked with at the Bergen Record had become the editor of the NYTimes Book Review. I met him on the street. He told me that he was now the editor of the Book Review. "I heard," I told him.

"What are you doing?" he asked, a little...superciliously.

"I'm working for a magazine," I said. "Fact magazine."

"Yes, but what is your title? What do you do?"

I was reluctant to say, but with hesitation and a little embarrassment I confessed...

"I'm the editor."

He turned around abruptly and walked away.

To this day I am not sure why. I guess he figured that I had deliberately maneuvered him into a trap.
When in my 20s I saw "The 400 Blows," the film, I concluded: Movies could be as good as any novel.
The first time I ever ate Indian food, in my 20s, I decided: My life from now on is going to be more enjoyable thanks to discovering Indian food.
As a child, I was mesmerized by Chopin's Waltz in C Sharp Minor. Played, I believe, by Horowitz. C Minor is a powerful key, I have recently learned.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Intelligent movie--well done--but I was surprised that Truman Capote was repeatedly portrayed as a liar--supporting Janet Malcolm (of the New Yorker), who argued that all writers betray their sources--(not true at all)--

When Capote's "In Cold Blood" was being serialized in the New Yorker, we had a subscription--we were mesmerized-- we even went out on a Sunday night to buy the last installment, rather than wait a day or two--amazingly, we met a neighboring couple--at the same newsstand for the same reason!

Bad Things

1--I stuck the expensive bag of dry catfood in the oven, to keep the cats from attacking it--you can guess what happened--yes, someone turned on the oven without looking inside--cats weren't interested in fried catfood--

2--I got a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt--I bet it costs a fortune! (I hate wearing seatbelts)--

3--I misread the directions to West Point, got so far off course, I decided to give up--missed a lecture--

4--Didn't do enough work...started cleaning gutters (a mess!)...started on book (difficult!)... but not enough--

5--OK, something good--the Yankees won!!!

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I have so much to do!

Clean gutters...remove mold from porch ceiling...paint garage door...clean out garage...paint garage floor...

And work on a book about difficult employees...

So, what do I do?

Read a new book about Beethoven -by Edmund Morris--but it's fitting--I am such an admirer of Beethoven--who was it who said that Beethoven was god?--must have been me--

I'll quote from the book shortly--what the author said about plagiarism was noteworthy--


Meanwhile, I lost my phone/address book. A disaster. I bought a new one, will vow never to lose it in the future.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Darn, my AOL often freezes when I'm writing in my blog--

Listening to a book about Elizabeth and Mary--absorbing--very biased against Mary, but I gather that that is warranted--

I spoke to JK Galbraith once--I was a big admirer--I loved his book The Great Crash, especially what he wrote about one malefactor of great wealth--OK, a book had come out in the 1970s, Report from Iron Mountain--an obvious satire--the U.S. had to get involved in taking over South America as an outlet for exports--I suspected that Galbreaith had written it, so I phoned him at Harvard--he cagily wouldn't confirm or deny that he had written it--but, as I discovered later, he hadn't--

A memorable quote from GK Chesterson--The rich in every country are always contemptible -- (exact quote to come)--

OK, Sky, so Frank Sinatra married Ava Gardner, not Clark Gable--apparently Frank was irresistible--