I cannot help it. I have “Shtisel” on the brain. How this unassuming television series crept up and became meaningful to me, I do not know, but it has. So many of my friends have watched it or are watching it now — the (refreshingly original) characters are a topic we discuss now — so far from American and world politics. Is it just pure escapism? The characters in the program have numerous disappointments, peccadilloes, and misunderstandings; people die, some story lines trail off, and yet, this @Netflix show — subtitled because it is in Hebrew and Yiddish — is full of plot, and heart, and love, and humor. If I haven’t persuaded you to watch it yet, I’m sorry.
Also, some of its greatest fans are not Jewish. As in the rye bread, you don’t have to be…. Strangely, there is a membership-based group on Facebook I just discovered for the sole purpose of discussing the show, including lots of explanation about the rituals and habits. of the ultra-religious Shtisel family. **
** Yes I joined it.
But rather than going on and on about Shtisel, let me speed ahead to my Five Great Things of this week.
1). May I brag about my exhibits ™ for a second? Each one of them is so hard-working; it makes a mother proud. Exhibit A, has about a million different jobs, as do all freelance artists relatively early in their careers: he auditions for acting parts, writes and directs comedy films and a tv series, hosts his own podcast, and performs in a comedy duo. And he just cut his first single. And he does a lot of voice overs. Exhibit B has a full-time job in Los Angeles (which can include late nights and weekends) but because she’d like more spending money, has decided it’s time she get an additional part-time job. And Exhibit C has a regular schedule of two jobs every week (about 30 hours) but has taken on two more this week. Now they could all ask me for money, but mostly they won’t. Being financially independent is something they all prize, #WhereDidIGoRight?
2). We bought a big TV over the weekend. I mean big — 65 inches! It was time for a new set and we have the space. Usually going to an electronics store to buy an appliance is about as much fun as getting blood drawn or going to the dentist (sorry, dentists!) but at the @BestBuy on Broadway and 62th Street, we encountered a trio of knowledgeable goofballs who made it a pleasure. We arrived after 5pm, so they had probably been on their feet all day and were ready for their evening to begin, but Dez, Brandon,and Johan were spectacular. They made us feel confident that we bought the right tv for us. Never has spending too much money been so fun.
3). I’ve tried to live dairy-free this week, and I can tell you, I don’t care for it. I bought the highly-recommended @Oatly milk, which is alright in coffee (it is creamy, even if it doesn’t look creamy), but not great in cereal. (#IMHO). But for those of you who’ve read this blog before, you know I adore BUTTER. It’s really my favorite food. How can I eat my toast without it? Watch me now drizzling my toast with flaxseed oil, a trick I learned years ago from an old friend named Lisa. According to the web, flaxseed oil is GOOD FOR YOU; it has a lot of those Omega-3 fatty acids. (But it’s no butter.). The good part? I’m doing something pro-healthy for myself.
4). Investigative Reporters: Without Jane Mayer, Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, Ronan Farrow, Jill K. Brown (Miami Herald; Jeffrey Epstein legal malfeasance), Sara Elizabeth Ganim (Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s pedophile assistant football coach), the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team who ferreted out the pervasive sexual abuses committed by their local Archdiocese, of course Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, we would not know half of the corruptions, hypocrisies, and crimes performed by people in power who saw no way they’d get caught. A special mention to Emma Brown of the. Washington Post, who broke the Christine Blasey Ford story. A link to. an interview to Ms. Brown is here: https://www.kappanonline.org/russo-how-former-education-reporter-emma-brown-broke-the-christine-blasey-ford-story/
5). It’s Mueller Time. I’m so reliably on the Mueller team that I’ve now received two presents from friends that prove how far gone I am: An I heart Mueller t-shirt from Shari, and a wooden cuff bracelet that Linda had decoupaged with Muelleriana.
Chip Kidd was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, the same one which produced John Updike, whose book covers he would eventually design. A graphics design major at Penn State University, Chip moved to New York to begin his career. His first job was in the art department of Alfred A. Knopf, the literary division of Random House, Inc. Chip would go on to become a star there, even having an editorial job in procuring graphic novels. [We collaborated on a book together; True Prep.]. He met and made a life with J.D. McClatchey, the poet, editor of the Yale Review, professor, and librettist. Sandy, as he was known, died last April, almost a year ago. The intervening 12 months have found Chip adjusting to being alone after 22 years. Our conversation reflects his candid thoughts.
His favorite things are in no particular order:
1). The Second Avenue Subway. It took too long, was terrifyingly noisy, and cost way too much money, but the new subway line is a total game changer for Chip. He can walk one block to the station, and two stops later he is — improbably — at his office across town.
2). The New York Times daily crossword puzzle. Done on paper only (natch), in ink (duh). Chip skips Mondays and Tuesdays and the minis (too easy). He does fill out puzzles in a particular pattern, which you can hear about on the podcast.
3). Chip’s rolling baggage. Sure it’s elegant, it’s personalized, it’s expensive; it’s made by Goyard! But it gives him joy whenever he travels. It’s the smoothest ride he’s ever experienced with a roller bag, and it fits in the overhead compartment!
4). Chip only wears round shaped glasses. He loves collecting clip on sunglasses, which he snaps onto his frames. It’s easier than moving between two pairs of glasses all the time, and these NEVER not elicit compliments.
5). Not being a baseball cap kind of guy, Chip prefers to wear his American Academy of Arts and Letters cap. He has several in many colors because they are always the party favors at gala dinners at the academy, once or twice a year. Founded in 1898 to honor the country’s preeminent writers, artists, and architects, Sandy McClatchey was the president.
Bonus thing). The last book that J.D. McClatchey published, Sweet Theft, in 2016, is a compendium of all the wonderful quotes, observations, and details Sandy copied down in many notebooks as a reader. A lot of the aperçus are funny: “In Hollywood we acquire the finest novels in order to smell their leather bindings.”— Ernest Lubitsch. “Somebody’s boring me…. I think it’s me.” — Bob Dylan. Others are excerpts about the art of writing. From Cesar Pavese’s diary: “Writing is a fine thing because it combines the two pleasures of talking to yourself and talking to a crowd.” Chip took Sandy’s photograph and designed this volume.
Stay cool and act natural!