Archive for June, 2012

My Cult

Friday, June 29th, 2012

You probably don’t know this about me.  I’m in a cult.  I never mention it.  I try to keep it on the down low.  It’s been almost 10 years now since we formed.  We do call ourselves The Cult.  My son Oliver is the one who coined the name.  He saw this photo of a woman in our group and she was in an eerie graveyard with drapey, Indian-type clothes.  A mist hung in the air.  Each day, as he saw us passing hundreds of emails back and forth he said, “So, that’s your cult leader?”  It just stuck.  We all thought it was hilarious.

Here is how we found our way to each other.  Sometime around our 30-year reunion from high school there was an AOL online group of 50 or more peeps from our school chatting away about our upcoming fiftieth birthdays.  Some were just observers and some were the ones doing all the talking.  I was in the latter group.  I know, surprise.  The bigger group was getting annoyed at how much we liked to communicate.  They might express it directly or they might say something like “take me off the list.”  Yet, there were still the lookie loos.  One day, the cult leader grabbed our core group of 10 or so and formed a smaller group.  You had to be tech savvy to move over, and I wasn’t, so she did the work for me.  Now it was official, we were a cult.  Trendsetters that we didn’t know we were, we may have been the original social network. (more…)

I Got a Real A

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Let me start by saying that when my dad liked something you did, he would say, “I give you an A!!!”  So, I never got real A’s, I got verbal ones.

One year, when Oliver was in school at SMC, I decided to join him and audit a cinema course.  Stupidly, I walked up to the teacher after the first class to make sure it was okay that I would be auditing.  This woman looked back into my eyes, real serious, sort of stern, and said no, she could not let anyone audit.  I was a little thrown.  I was sorry I walked up to her.  I should have just quietly done it.   Then she said, “Just sign up and take the class.”  Panic set in.  I looked back at her and said, “No, I don’t want to have to take tests or study.”  She said her one test isn’t very difficult and that there would be only one essay.  She acted like it would be easy-breezy.  Still panicking, I said in hushed tones, “I have brain damage.”  I said that to her.  I couldn’t think of anything else.  But, to be perfectly honest, I was suffering from terrible brain fog from toxic mold in my bloodstream.  That’s another story.  Trust me, I was not my normal, sort of sharp, but not-sharp-enough-to-take-a-test self.  The teacher assured me this class would be no pressure. (more…)

Father’s Day

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Finally a story about another man in my life other than my dad.  Are you relieved?

I’d like you meet my husband. Here he is.

And these are just some of the reasons that I love the man.  I also like him because he is smart and funny.  And handsome.  But, it’s his generous spirit that has always blown me away.

Quickly, some back-story you might need to know.

Michael is only a few years older than me, yet seems like he’s from another generation.  When we drive in his car, he listens exclusively to jazz.  He just loves that whole Sinatra era, rat pack thing.

Some years ago when I knew my friend Ricci Martin had written a book about his dad Dean, (yes, that Dean) I called him up for a signed copy as a gift for my husband.  I didn’t know if my Michael would even read it.  He did.  Then he got to work on a secret gift.  Secret to me at least. Let me clarify something.  I’m not all that close with Ricci.  We have a lot of the same friends, so sure, I can make that call to get the signed book, but we don’t really stay in touch.  I knew nothing of my husband’s plan.  But, he had read that Dean’s favorite scent was Woodhue, a cologne made by Fabrege.  Ricci’s father had been gone quite awhile and Michael thought it would make a great gift if he could find a bottle of the now discontinued scent.  First he made a call to a few relatives.  My husband’s uncle George had been the CEO of Faberge.  No luck.  It hadn’t been made in years.  Then he started a search on the internet and it led him to eBay and he found a never used bottle.  He purchased it and then asked me for Ricci’s address.  I asked why.  And, he told me this story.  That after reading the book, he went on a hunt to find Dean’s son Ricci a bottle of Woodhue.   I think Michael doing that touched me even more than it did Ricci. (more…)

We Celebrate You with Cubans, Dad

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Duke's grandkids, Erica Duke( left), Augie Duke( right)

When I think of my dad — and if you know me, you know I always do think of him – it’s often Saturday morning and Duke is surrounded by his “crew” in his regular booth at Nate n’ Al’s.  But next Sunday, Father’s Day, I’ll think of Duke as he was most Sundays – in his other regular booth at Matteo’s.  What can I say, he liked to eat and he loved to schmooze.

I realize I write WAY too much about my dad.  But, here is a story you haven’t heard. One night at Matty’s, as we called this trapped-in-a-time-warp, Rat Pack era, Italian bistro on Westwood Boulevard, my dad was eating in his regular red leather booth; first to the right as you walked into the “correct” (celebrity-filled) room.  I should mention that Sunday nights at Matteo’s was tradition among a certain show business crowd.  It wasn’t unusual to see Sinatra dining with Steve & Eydie, or the Reagans, Lucille Ball or even Clint Eastwood… but to me, Sunday at Matteo’s was mostly about the comedians.  On this night, Red Buttons walked in.  My dad was always the first person anyone greeted.  He was hard to miss.  Short of stature, but big of mouth, and loudly holding court at a spot you had to pass to enter.  Except for Shecky, my father called all comics he knew by their last name.  It was just Dangerfield.  Or Youngman.  You get it.  So, Buttons walks in and turns to our table, kibitzes with my dad a moment, then in a big, showy gesture, hands him a long, fat cigar.  He proudly points out it’s an expensive Cuban then moves on to his own table.  My dad stuck it where he put all his cigars — including his own cheap ones — in the top jacket pocket he sometimes called a “pockcoat.”  Don’t ask. (more…)

June is Busting Out All Over!!!

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Disclaimer:  As a society, we put way too much emphasis on the size of a woman’s breasts when it’s the size of her brain and heart that matters.  End of disclaimer.  You’re now going to read a tale of Big Tits.

I grew up in a near circus environment of comics, entertainers, bohemians and one stunning Playboy Playmate.  She was also an alluring actress on the big screen — she had co-starred with Louis Prima in my father’s 1961 movie “Twist All Night” –- and she was gorgeous beyond belief — and to add insult to injury—NICE. I loved everything about her, especially the big breasts and British accent.  I’m kidding, the accent was fine, but it was those tits that I looked up to!  Literally.  I looked up to them.  My dad talked about them so frequently and openly that I started to think of them as not an appendage but as another whole personality. “Her tits have got tits,” he would say.  My own mother didn’t have tits that had tits.  She barely had them at all.  And, unfortunately, I would never end up that endowed myself, but dream on as a child I would.  (Again, not important.  See disclaimer above.)  People would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up, Fredde?”  And I would answer proudly (as if this were a normal, Leave-it-to-Beaver fantasy): “I want to be a Playboy bunny, just like June (not Cleaver)!!!”

My idol, June lying by my father’s pool, 60’s