Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

One is the Loneliest Number (A Harry Nilsson song that fueled my teen angst, performed by Three Dog Night)

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

 

 Me yearbook 1971

One is the Loneliest Number is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

I sit alone for hours brooding. If you meet me, you’ll think I’m a happy-go-lucky kid. But sometimes I live in a darker world.

Two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one.

The need to smoke my first cigarette is profound. I think it will give me that teenager lift I’m looking for. Smoking is camaraderie. I’ll be a comrade.   My mother isn’t around today — which is rare. She’s always a figure in motion around our house. Or she’s sequestered in her bedroom fighting her own private demons.

No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know. Yes, it’s the saddest experience you’ll ever know. (more…)

Three Quick Stories

Monday, December 26th, 2016

yellow-robe-jim-dine

 

One: Party of the Year

In high school, this brother and sister I was friends with decided to throw the Party of the Year. They enlisted my help. “Fredde, will you invite a bunch of people and say it’s an open party?   You know everyone.   Our parents will be out of town. We want to make it epic.”

I don’t know if they used epic, that’s more of a word from today, but they did want it to be memorable. And it was. Sort of thanks to me. I spread the word. The house was full of rabble-rousers. The place was trashed. And now the kids would be in some deep trouble. So, what did they do? Blamed me. Yep. They said Fredde Duke told everyone to show up here and she threw a party. I did not.   But they were now out of trouble, and I was considered quite the shit stirrer.

I waited 35 years and decided it was time to set the record straight. I look the number up. Still listed. And, yes, I hear from a mutual friend that both parents are still alive. I dial the number. “Hi Mr. and Mrs. ______. I’m Fredde Duke. Do you remember me?”

I got a very lovely, “Yes, of course we do, Fredde. “ (more…)

Destination Wedding

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

castle

Lately, almost everything is out of my comfort zone. Including items on my bucket list. If I have to drive across town here in Los Angeles, I feel like I’m a contestant on Survivor.

An invitation arrived in the mail. Come to a castle in Ireland, it said. Three days of food and board paid for by the wedding party. What to do? Are you kidding? Who could resist? I answered yes.

And then went into a panic.

Too many planes, trains and automobiles. Being in a car in LA is unnerving enough. Driving on the “wrong” side of the road in County Mayo? That’s my idea of terror.

I decided to be my own travel agent. This would give me some control and help me get used to the whole idea of the trip. A trip, as Rod Serling might say, to the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, to the pit of man’s fears: My Discomfort Zone.

I shot off an email to an Irish actor I know and begged for advice. He was very detailed about which hotel in Dublin to stay at and even suggested a visit to a second castle. (more…)

Mating Call

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

eating salad at farmers market, 70's

He called me at home. A first call. He was stuttering. Perhaps asking me out. I helped him. “What are you doing tomorrow?” I asked, easing him out of his obvious discomfort. “I’m going to the Farmers Market for lunch. Want to meet me there for a really great Crab Louie?”

In those days, before traffic in Los Angeles, it was a quick drive from my Malibu Beach apartment to Hollywood. I had just come off a seemingly effortless run of landing national television commercials and was subletting from an actor who ran off to New York to work for Woody Allen. I could afford the high rent, and it was all I needed: an oversized bed — built by the actor for the small space, a fireplace, and a small kitchen with sliding glass doors that faced an unobstructed view of the Pacific. I couldn’t ask for more. Except a boyfriend. I was between boyfriends, which was rare for me.

We met in front of the fish market. I ordered a Tab and a salad with enough dressing for six or seven salads. I ate heartily. Manuel watched. His demeanor was nervous. Mine was overconfident. I couldn’t tell you if I was really confident or if I was faking it. I excelled at appearing sure of myself. (more…)

Screwdriver

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

me in red mini van with augie and oliver

When new electronics fell off a truck and into my father’s apartment (don’t ask) he would place a call. “Screwdriver, come over and set this shit up.”

I don’t know how Kevin, AKA Screwdriver — so named by my dad for his skills at setting up sound systems and things — found his way into Duke’s posse, but this young hip black dude became a full-fledged member of the team.

Some nights I might call and ask my dad what he was doing. Okay, most nights I made that call.   I often crashed, the only chick allowed in an almost exclusively male-dominated club. The group consisted of ex-CBS president Bud Grant, a bigwig ornery PR guy (Sinatra’s and Michael Jackson’s) named Lee Solters, Screwdriver, my dad, his current “with,” and a few other hanger-ons. Did I hear you ask what a “with” is? Read here.

Everything in my life was freebie style. Free tickets to Disneyland. Comp’d seats at Broadway plays. Freebies to shows and hotels in Vegas.

And on one memorable night, Screwdriver hooked us up with the Greatest – and Hippest — Show on Earth: The Black Circus in South Central. This was not your Ringling Brothers, it was your Ringling Brotha. (more…)

Al Fresco

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

long table, outstanding

I just drove by the sweetest scene: an elderly couple picnicking in Palisades Park on Ocean Avenue, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Elderly, I say, when they are probably only ten years older than me.  I am eternally drawn to the romantic notion of al fresco dining.  (Al Fresco sounds like the name of a gangster gunned down while dining in Little Italy, though not necessarily outdoors.)

I have a fantasy of serving meals outdoors to be eaten on a long picnic table with a vintage French tablecloth and beautiful cutlery and cloth napkins.  I also have a fantasy of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, but it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

While I might like the idea of eating outdoors, I hate fighting the elements and the insects.  So I never serve a meal outside and don’t really enjoy outdoor dining unless, perhaps, it’s on a screened-in porch.  I like a barrier.  I will, however, contradict myself and tell you I choose the patio at most restaurants because it can be infinitely more charming.  Like, say, at The Ivy.  Ivy at The Shore is safer from wind and flying bugs because it’s covered, so that’s the patio I prefer.  But the charm of the patio at The Ivy in West Hollywood cannot be beat. (more…)

Saying Yes and Stretching Past My Comfort Zone – Part 3

Monday, June 17th, 2013

me before Stones concert

On a recent day, I had lunch in the Palisades with two of my oldest friends, Benjy & David.  Another old friend from high school is battling cancer, so we decided she might like to receive flowers.  I found her address and we sent them.  Later, they kept calling to tell me what a lovely idea that really was.  I got texts.  I got calls.  It was nothing – except, all right, it might have been my idea — but we did it, and instead of that being that, they kept on giving me props.  Also, our friend was very touched by the flowers, so, honestly, we were all rewarded, and that should have been the end of it.  Only the boys, my boyz, thought they wanted to do something for me.  Not sure why, but they did.  I got a call one day from Ben.

“David and I were talking and we really want to do something for you.”

“Benny, the texts and calls have been enough.  We all sent the flowers.  I don’t need anything else.”

“No, too bad, we have an offer  — but I know you very well, so I’m not sure you will go for it.  Don’t worry, there will be many other offers, but hear this one first.”

“Okay, Benny.”

“The Rolling Stones.  I have an extra ticket, Meilani is out of town.”  Ben senses my excitement and fear all rolled into one big “WHAT?!!?”

“Look, I know you, Duke.  You hate crowds, you hate noise, you hate to stay out late — so give it some thought.  You have two days to think about it, but we REALLY want you to come.”

“Okay, Ben, two days.  Let me think about it, because you know I REALLY want to go, but it’s way out of my comfort zone.  Thank you so much for the offer and for understanding me so well.”

Panic set in. (more…)

Stretching: Past my Comfort Zone (Part Two)

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

52

For Valentines Day I submitted a story about my wacky parents’ two marriages (both to each other) to the Huffington Post.  It was posted, and for a few days hundreds of people clicked the ‘like’ button and wrote comments.  It was really fun and rewarding.  I was once an actress — we love applause.  And the likes are like applause. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fredrica-duke/opposites-attract_1_b_2729063.html

A few weeks later I get a call from someone with a familiar voice.  The guy asks if I’m Fredrica Duke and he says he is calling from The Ricki Lake Show.  I think it’s my friend Desi playing a prank on me, so I keep saying “Yes, Desi.”   He stays with it asking if I am the Fredrica Duke who wrote the piece in the Huffington Post.  I say “Yes, Desi,” in a more sarcastic, I-know-who-you-are kind of voice.  The man stays calm and says his producer loved my story and would like to have me on the show.  I say, “Uh-huh, sure.” Now the guy senses I’m not buying this at all because I clearly think I’m being punked.  He offers to have me call him back.  I say, “No, go on, tell me more.”  He tells me that the story is very compelling and the show would like to have me on as a guest the following week.  Would I consider it? (more…)

Biscuits are Trending

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

1359142_FO_gold_RRD

 

Everyone is always moving on to the next big thing.  What is up with you people?   That cupcake fad sure took off.   I knew why, and I was on it so fast.   I’m still on it in case anyone asks.  Like someone will.  In the same way that I always came home from a trip to London, Paris or even New York sporting a new fashion trend, I was carting back boxes of Magnolia cupcakes from the bakery’s West Village location as gifts for friends.  Turning them all on to my addiction.

I’m not fickle.  In fact I’m the opposite, loyal through and through.  All y’all have moved on to pies or those fancy small French macaroons.   I’m sticking by the cupcake.  Oh, yes I am.

So, how come it took you so long to get into the biscuit craze?  Can I toot my own horn here and tell you how long I’ve been a fan of the biscuit?  Jumping in to answer before you say no.  A long-ass time.  My whole life, in fact.  My southern grandmother, we called her Granny, made them for me.  Pretty sure she dunked them in some bacon fat before they went into the oven.  Those buttery, flakey biscuits came out perfect.  Served piping hot, butter melting everywhere, dripping onto the plate for my first unforgettable bite.  There is nothing quite like it.  Until now.  There are restaurants in Los Angeles serving piping hot, perfect biscuits.  My friend Andrea called yesterday to update me: “Yet another place serving biscuits, a great review today AND it’s on Abbott Kinney.”  “Let’s go right now,” I said after jumping up and down.  And we did. (more…)

For Oliver on his Birthday

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

favorite picture of oliver in moma

 

First of all, you were born on Mother’s Day and I cannot think of a better gift.  Ten days late with full chubby cheeks, you could lift your head up, which would blow the nurses away.  You never stopped blowing me away.

By four months old, your dad and I were walking you in and out of New York museums.  You also inexplicably turned orange which alarmed your parents so much that I made an unwell baby visit to the pediatrician.  He looked at you and asked right away if we were feeding you a lot of carrots.  Oops my bad.  Yes, WAY too many jars of strained carrots, your favorite.   By age one, I knew you already appreciated art.  You could also finish sentences in your baby books.  Well, to be fair, one-word sentences.  This was very impressive to the other mother’s in Washington Square Park where we played every day.

Turning you orange, one bite of carrots at a time!!

Turning you orange, one bite of carrots at a time!!

(more…)