Posts Tagged ‘Nate n’ Als deli’

Angels and Devils

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

 

IMG_0030me in hippie clothes headshot

When I was 18 years old I had an anthem.

At the time, two women, who seemed almost elderly, but were only in their mid-50s, were my feminist role models. They didn’t know it.

My own mother was a very independent woman and was already a pretty good role model. But she wasn’t as forthcoming and strong. I felt my mother’s strength was just the hand she’d been dealt. That’s another story for another time.

These two women, who had just entered my life, were fierce and unapologetic about their strength. Janet had a degree as a medical doctor and was a New York shrink on the Upper East Side. Ruth had an MSW and practiced therapy out of her duplex in Beverly Hills. She also happened to be the mother of my then boyfriend.

When these two besties got together, they wore matching (although in different colors) Lanz nightgowns to bed. They’d giggle all night during their two-week long, if not longer, slumber parties.

The headboard of Ruth’s bed was a spectacular mural of hand painted cherubs (angels) and clouds.  Their lives, their friendship, their headboards, their taste in music and books and film, all seemed fantastic to me. I was captivated.

Ruth and Janet turned me onto my anthem. I knew and recited the words by heart. I bought the album and played it more than some people were playing Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Over and over all day long, I pulled the needle back to start my favorite song again one more time. This was 1972. The album was released a year earlier. (more…)

Mad Meals

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

sign-on-pacific-coast
I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex and rich food.
He was healthy right up until the day he killed himself.
~Johnny Carson

I finally tuned into “Mad Men.” At least, the first show of this last season. I’m a little late to the craze. I had heard for years about the sets and the wardrobe, but what hit me most was the food. They nailed the food. And it’s what I miss most about that era.

Truth is, I still eat like that — but I’m alone. All the restaurants that serve “old school” food are dying. Everyone’s dropping gluten, dairy and sugar. We are bombarded with studies about how bad they are for you. Gluten triggers stomach problems and brain disorders. Sugar generates cancer. All three cause inflammation that will kill me. Well, kill me now, because all I really want is bread, butter, sugar and a big cold glass of milk. And I don’t want so many choices of milk that I have to read the carton. I want to live again in the late 60’s and early 70’s. (more…)

Law and Order: Beverly Hills Unit

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Do you remember when Zsa Zsa slapped a policeman in Beverly Hills?  It made all the papers.  Made the nightly news.  People might have assumed she was just a hot head.  I have news for those people.  He deserved it.  Big time. If he’s the guy I’m thinking of, and I’m pretty sure he is.

The cop sported a mustache that was so retro in style, yet not hip in the least. For that ugly mustache alone he deserved that slap.    He was a cowboy on his motorcycle moving in and out of the traffic without awareness of other drivers.  He also spun around on his horse, I mean, motorcycle, on some mornings to give my handicapped father shit about being dropped off in front of his favorite deli.  My father knew this routine well.  He would ask whoever was driving him to drop him off directly in front of places to make it the easiest on himself for a quick entry.  Or, as he called it: “a straight-in job.”  And sure, he was double-parked, but there was another lane and rarely any traffic at that time of day.  My dad would be threatened with a ticket but he would just keep moving and yelling at the cop.  And the next day, it would start all over again. (more…)

No Complaints

Thursday, October 27th, 2011


I’m Maurice Duke’s daughter, remember me? I said that a lot growing up. Still do. Just said it a lot at a memorial I crashed for one of my dad’s friends. The only time in my entire life that I asked someone if he knew my father and he said no was when I was a teenager eating lunch at Nate n’ Al’s deli in Beverly Hills. The person who said no was Johnny Carson. And I spent the rest of that lunch not believing his answer. Because my dad knew so many people, there was an illusion that he was much more famous than he really was. I actually didn’t and don’t care if he was famous; he was my idol just based on how wildly unique he was.

I can never celebrate my father enough. In our family, my dad’s birthday is a national holiday. We tend to celebrate him every day, so on his birthday, we step it up a notch. Last year, October 27’th, would have been his 100th birthday. I invited a lot of my friends — and what friends of his were still alive — and I screened a movie I made about him.

I should be ashamed to say, greatest night of my life!!! I gave birth three times. What gets me off the hook here is that the births were during the operative word, day. Technically, I might have been married in the early evening, but let’s just say late afternoon so I can keep saying the screening was the greatest night of my life. You know, without hurting anyone’s feelings.

My father never hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose. He was, however, blunt and outspoken to the point of being shocking. He used the C-word as if it were a term of endearment. When he used the word cooze, that’s when we knew the person he was talking about was a real c-u-n-t. A bathroom he always called a terlet. He moved to California from New York in the 40’s, yet a toilet was a terlet until the day he died in 1996.

Speaking of terlets, he often didn’t get up to use one. I cringe when I think of it, I didn’t speak of it in the movie I made, though others I interviewed did (I cut it) — but my dad used what he called a pish bottle. Shamelessly. He kept it sitting right there next to him all day long. Oy. And my brother and I had the nasty job of emptying the pish bottle. You see, my dad was handicapped, in case you haven’t been following my blog. He had polio and throughout his life he was saddled with a leg brace and a cane. It wasn’t always easy for him to get around so he ordered us around instead. We would bring him, fetch him, do for him. And we loved every second of it.

My dad woke up every morning of his life singing. He was happy to be here, always. We all strive to maintain being grateful. Everyone is always reminding themselves and others, be grateful. This was his natural state. Eternal gratefulness. Happy to have been given a blessed life. But we were the blessed ones. The ones who got to be around him and loved by him. (more…)

You’re all Invited….I Swear!!!!

Friday, July 15th, 2011


When I have a party, I try to invite everyone. I really do. And if my best friend has another best friend, I invite the other best friend. I include the world. If I happen to run in to you (random person reading this) a week before said party, I will invite you even if we’re not the best of friends. I even like it when people crash my parties or when someone calls me and says boldly “Do you mind? I hear you’re having a party and I’d really like to go.” What I LOVE about that is that the person who makes that kind of call, does know me. They know, I’m so happy to include everyone.

I believe I got this from my mother who would say, “You have to invite the whole class, not just some.” Or my dad, who carried his entourage around with him, leaving no one out. Both my parents never let anyone’s feelings get hurt.

One day, in maybe the 5th or 6th grade, a girl named Debby had a party and it seemed like she invited just about everyone. Except me. And maybe the worst part was that she included my best friend Susie. It felt like a real slight. On that particular weekend of Debby’s party, I remember feeling very alone on Saturday night. Susie and I were pretty inseparable. (more…)

Real & Imaginary Friends

Monday, February 14th, 2011

when I met Cindy Lou

We lived in a depressing apartment on Olympic Boulevard; a recent divorce put us there. I hated every second of it and longed to be back in “the house.” Soon, the house became a long-ago memory. I might walk by the backyard while playing in the alley and knew it was “technically” ours, but eventually I stopped looking in and convinced myself I no longer pined for it.

One day, a little girl, a year younger than me, moved into the apartment directly across from ours. Not even three steps away was the front door of the girl who became my new best friend. Her name was Cindy Lou Carlson. Not Jewish. Not Jewish was always a comfortable fit for me because I was half-and-half, as we used to say. I knocked on the door and offered up my friendship … and some Oreos.

depressing Olympic apt. my window, Cindy's window where bike is


To date, my most important friendships had been with imaginary friends — an elephant named Carfia, and Sherry, a “good, nice” red-headed mother. (My real mother was a redhead too.) They lived in trees near Roxbury Park, which unfortunately placed them across the huge, though not-so-busy in those days, Olympic Boulevard. There were a few times at age three — and younger — that my mother couldn’t find me, because I was across that big road talking to my friends in the tree. Once, I was spotted by a neighbor and when my mother retrieved me, she slapped some sense into me (a real hard slap, very scary). She insisted my friends were imaginary and didn’t live in that tree. I knew better. But I moved them into a safer spot, my bathtub. I loved them, but Cindy Lou was real, and Cindy Lou looked up to me and followed everything I did. And Cindy could accompany me to Roxbury Park where I would tell her in a forest of bushes and trees that we were being held hostage by savage Indians. My new best friend “saw” all that I could see in my imagination. This was a win-win relationship. Follow the leader (me) was the game we eternally played. (more…)

Germ Warfare

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

me and the friends that surrounded me, Tracy, Kimberly and Stacey


It is the end of an era. I just found out that Broadway Deli in Santa Monica closed. I wasn’t about to recommend it or anything, it really wasn’t all that exciting. But I’m sort of blown away by the news. It held a lot of sentimental memories for me. When the ex-husband left me for another woman — okay, that wasn’t in the least bit shocking, but it happened — I was shaken. I’d walk up to tables of random people at the Broadway Deli and announce that my husband just left me for another woman and did they happen to know of anyone they could set me up with. Sometimes, friends would point to tables I missed and say, “Oh, look you haven’t told those people over there, or them there.” And so I would march up to complete strangers and do my line.

When the long predicted (by my father) infidelity happened, my friends showered me with support and we often ate dinner at the Broadway Deli. Sometimes also at Remi, next door, but that too closed, ages ago. I didn’t go to Broadway Deli much anymore, but it is where I had my first date with the man that would become my future husband. I love the memory of that date. It’s a part of my history, my story. Our story.

He will tell you I threw myself at him. And I have my version. You can be the judge.

I was having breakfast at Nate ‘n Al’s — basically my father’s commissary. He ate there every day except Sundays when he said “they bused in the gentiles”. This was after the not-so-shocking news about my current husband which my father had predicted for twelve long years. My dad would often say, “He will leave you for a girl he meets in the program”. He meant my husband will find a woman in the PHD program he was enrolled in. And he did exactly that. Hey, it’s all good, in case you think I’m some sort of a victim, which I’m not. It was full speed ahead or in my dad’s philosophy “NEXT!” which is what he would say if a show was cancelled or his movie project fell through. Only, I use it (and even he did) for relationships too. If it ends: NEXT!!! So, in the spirit of Next, I was with him early (which I hate) and dressed nicely, maybe even with a touch of makeup (rare ). At our table was Rodney Dangerfield and Bob Hilliard, a comedy writer who had written for the “Honeymooners.” So, you get the idea, all old Jews and me. (That should be the title of my book, “All old Jews and Me”. I want to remember that. But, I better use it quick or it will be “All old Jews, Including Me.”) (more…)

That’s me, the Underdog Lover

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

From the earliest possible memory, and I do mean earliest, my mother role-modeled the love of the underdog.   Why, she married my father, a polio survivor, who sported a cane and brace and walked tilted from side to side.  Think Danny DeVito, only slightly taller.  My dad was all of 5 feet, one inch.

My mother took in strays, both people and animals.  A famous gay makeup artist with a serious drug problem moved in for nearly a year.  Each day that I left for high school, he asked me to score him some good dope.  I always smiled and said “sure,” but never copped, not for him at least.

In retrospect, I’m thinking that I was an underdog.   I was extremely tiny, with crossed eyes, so I had to wear those horrific cat glasses of the 1950’s.   But I didn’t feel like any underdog.   One day in grammar school, I watched, horrified, as all these nasty students surrounded the mentally-retarded girl and poked fun at her.  I came home and related to my thin-skinned mother what had happened, and she lectured me, warning that it will never be me joining in.   And it never was.  I was almost always fighting for the underdog.  Put up with no shit, that’s what I learned from both parents.  That new show, “What Would You Do?” resonates with me because I’m the one who gets indignant in the face of injustice, and says something.   It’s not always pretty either.

Some years ago, I kept noticing this homeless woman in my hood.  I feared where my heart would lead me, so I looked away.  I mean, for a few years I saw her out of the corner of my eye and knew that she tore at me, called to me, if you will…. But I wouldn’t touch it (or her). (more…)