Tag Archives: rural Spain

Raquel Welch, “Sex Goddess of the 1970s,” and my younger daughter Amelia

March 10, 2013, State College, PA., 7:40 PM. I was asked this afternoon why I nearly went crazy before each of my daughters was born. The lapse of judgment—mentioning Raquel Welch to my 22 year-old daughter this afternoon—is a good example of why I worried about becoming a father.

As anyone who is a parent knows, it does not matter what we say.

What matters is how we behave.

If I behave as a father should behave—instead of telling my daughters what to do and then provide an opposite example—then my poor behavior condemns my status as a Good Father.

Kansascitybomberposter

Hence, regard this confession of the error of my ways (and the circumstances surrounding it) when I made mention of the film Kansas City Bomber to my daughter this morning (over an often clear Skype connection). A movie review of sorts is contained within this plea for forgiveness. Mea culpa.

The stimulus for my poor behavior is the fact that Amelia, who is currently teaching English in rural Spain, is training to be a roller derby contestant.

My daughter Amelia in her Spanish roller derby You Tube debut

Sadly, this video is no longer available.

 You will clearly recognize Amelia at the end of the video. She is haming it up holding up a sign that reads “500″ and then getting knocked off her feet. Just goes to show what a fine woman I raised her to be.

I was directed to this Riedell Skates site this morning when Amelia showed me an impressive pair of Riedell Skates along with much of the impressive protective equipment required to prevent physical damage which can result from falling on concrete. See http://www.roller.riedellskates.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductName=SuzyHotrod

I had been reading Amelia’s postings in Spanish on Facebook—Spanish sadly being a language I do not yet speak nor read. The Bing translations are dreadful (compared to Microsoft’s competitors in this emerging software market. (Microsoft, which owns Bing and also owns and does an excellent job with Skype, appears to take little effort to improve; I have asked Bing).

The gist of one such posting was that Amelia complained that the only area of her body for which protection is unavailable is her ass—the idea of strapping a pillow to it had not yet occurred to her.

I had not realized until this morning that Amelia is in training to be a roller derby contestant. Until this morning, the only thing I knew about the subject was a dimly remembered fact that Raquel Welch had been in a roller derby movie widely publicized decades ago which I refused—at the time I was a film snob–to see.

So, the first trigger to the error in judgment was the desire, as a father, who when his daughter mentions a subject on which I am a complete and total ignoramus was to pretend I knew something.

The second trigger was the vivid memory that when I was her age, a graduate of college, on my way to presumably be adult and mature, I became obsessed with an oddball sport—different from Amelia’s, but given my upbringing distinctly unusual.

Unlike many of my friends and contemporaries, my memory of my past is vivid. At 65, I remember distinctly the follies I committed at 22 among them being the failure to wear a helmet while riding horses (for which I had no talent), the insistence I had in riding horses that I knew I could not control; and the frequency with which I fell—risking concussion in one instance. When, on the beach of the Pacific Ocean under an absolutely beautiful horse threatening to stomp me out of existence, I gave up being an equestrian forever (parenthetically, influencing my elder daughter Joanna to become a superb rider and trainer of horses).

It is not bad parenting to say, I neglected to take necessary precautions to prevent a concussion. Concussions are dangerous. The moral of my reminiscence Amelia not only appreciated but observed with wonder, “How did you ever survive to be 65?” [And presumably burden our country’s economic future by being both a social security recipient and a Medicare beneficiary—Social Security, Medicare, and housing for the disabled are discussed elsewhere and are indeed the theme of this site (a site one diligent reader observed is “scattershot”—connecting all postings in the site is a planned posting {once I figure out how to do it}; perhaps Raquel Welch is on Medicare and would appreciate a well-positioned grab bar].Raquel_welch_1millionyearsbc

Now for the movie review. The movie, Kansas City Bomber was released in August of 1972 at the same time a white horse stomped me into abandoning horseback riding permanently. The 1970s were a pathetic decade during which undergraduates were jealous of people like me who went to college in the tumultuous 1960s. Some reacted by pretending it was the 1960s still; others wore bell bottomed pants wide belts, ghastly ties or longer skirts; still others became Watergate junkies. By and large the 1970s was a very boring decade.

Raquel Welch was listed as the most desirable woman of the 1970s by Playboy readers. Wikipedia defines Raquel Welch’s profession as “actress and sex symbol.” She was not a good actress. Kansas City Bomber was part of a wave of films about offbeat sports. I had not heard of roller derbies until the movie was released (three months before Richard Nixon won re-election by carrying every state in the Union except Massachusetts).

Having made reference to Kansas City Bomber, I rented it this afternoon on Amazon and with great difficulty (washing many dishes and performing many chores while stopping and starting) reached the conclusion.

Kansas City Bomber is of one of the worst movies ever made. For aficionados of the movie review genre, I hereby make the declaration that if you are worried about my spoiling the plot for you (not that there is anything in the plot that can be ruined), stop reading now.

Clearly Raquel Welch is an attractive woman—far more attractive in still photographs then when she is actually moving. There is, to my point of view, nothing wrong with a father saying that sex between consenting adults can be pleasurable. But, I can never imagine making love to a woman who is chewing gum—which Raquel Welch does constantly throughout the movie and I suspect throughout life. (Now that she is 73, I wish her well, hope she does not have dentures, and hope she continues to enjoy chewing gum.)

The Riedell Skates Company would be advised not to mention the movie in any of its promotional literature. Kansas City Bomber depicts roller derbies as a sport in which the results are fixed, there is little skating and a great deal of fighting. The owner of the primary team for whom Raquel Welch (KC) plays encourages attractive women to fight each other. There is nothing at all erotic about the movie. KC and the owner have an affair, but there is no nudity and the kisses are bland. Bland kisses. At one point, KC is reproved for using the word “hell.” The minimal amount of profanity is so limited the film would probably receive a G rating today.

The most interesting (and shocking to me) scene is when KC, who has two adorable children, roller skates with her daughter during a transition period between beating up women on roller skates. The two skate beautifully on astonishingly smooth concrete given the distressed neighborhood she calls home. The shock, her daughter, age 8, is not wearing a helmet even though the danger of falling on her head is ever-present.

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Forgive me, Amelia, for ever mentioning Kansas City Bomber. Please do not watch it. Continue to watch Bunuel instead.

Dear reader, I will now attempt to make this site less scattered by focusing on the housing problems of disabled and elderly individual (primarily, Baby Boomers like me, whose karmic future may be decided by whether they voted for Raquel Welch as the most desirable woman in the 1970s).

Note: The photographs here are of Raquel Welch and I assume they are in the public domain. If not they will be removed.

For photos of Amelia see: http://www.joelsolkoff.com/digressions/countdown-to-amelias-graduation/

Joel Solkoff, mea culpa

My mother’s Thanksgiving story and my Thanksgiving letter

Let us start with my mother.

My mother Miriam told me [when I was a freshman at Druid Hills High School in Decatur, Georgia in 1961] of her attempt to convince her Aunt Marcia (Tanta Masha) to have a Thanksgiving celebration in 1933 when my mother was eight years old.

Tanta Masha, married to Sol Demick [a sweet, bald man who worked at a delicatessen] and my grandmother Suschi Schneider’s older sister, ran my mother’s household in The Bronx (of course, of New York City) with an iron hand.

Tanta Masha and my mother did not get along, “Probably,” my mother said, “because we were so much alike.”

Why my mother and grandmother (whom I called Bubbie) lived with Sol and Marcia Demick and their two sons Norman and Alvin (Vremmy) is a story for another occasion. My mother said that in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, Thanksgiving [first established as a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln’s executive order] was not universally celebrated the way it is today.

In fact, my mother said, FDR (whom my mother adored) was responsible for Thanksgiving’s widespread celebration (probably at the suggestion of FDR’s political adviser then Postmaster General James A. Farley) as a way of including the immigrant community into the lumpy American melting pot (and not incidentally securing their vote.)

So taken with FDR’s appeal to celebrate Thanksgiving, my always precocious and astonishingly serious (and beautiful) mother appealed to Tanta Masha to celebrate the holiday complete with turkey and Norman Rockwell-like trimmings.

[Note: Yes, I am aware that Norman Rockwell’s iconographic Freedom from Want painting first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1943.]

Mother explained that for Tanta Masha, Thanksgiving complete with turkey and cranberry sauce [hint: cranberries will later take on great significance in my life] meant a great deal of unwanted work and expense she and the family could ill afford. [When my grandmother talked about poverty—and indeed when my father did—they spoke with an understanding of pain they could never express successfully in words but the pain came through clearly and on the mark like the early promises of digital sound and flat screen high-definition television.)

“With Tanta Masha, everything was a power struggle,” Mother explained. Then weeping unexpectedly, Mother described how Tanta Masha had outmaneuvered my mother—bitterly angry that Mother’s goal to become a good American had (as she explained it) been stolen from her by an unfair trick.

Tanta Masha asked her sons Norman [who died unexpectedly this year] and Vremmy [about whom more needs to be said than can fit neatly into this section] (Mother’s cousins were really more like brothers than cousins), “How would you like to celebrate Thanksgiving with hot dogs and baked beans?” My mother’s dream of patriotic desire had been robbed from her by what she conceived of as a mean parlor trick.

In the long run though, Mother prevailed (as she always prevailed when something Important was at stake). And so, for me Thanksgiving evolved into the holiday of the year—significant in a way I will try to define, but whose root structure now clearly runs deeply into the ground holding generations fixed in place.

Thanksgiving has become the holiday that defines me as a person, as a father, as a family man, as a citizen in ways no other holiday can. What makes this definition especially auspicious this year (a year of enormous change in my life)….[Let us wait and see what happens next after I have completed cleaning out the oven and stuffing the fresh turkey that is now in the refrigerator.]

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This photograph taken in 1990 is especially significant.

The photograph shows some of the people I love most in life. The six-year-old girl, front row left, is my elder daughter Joanna Marie, now 28 and engaged to be married.

The infant, back row right, is Amelia Altalena, my 22 year-old daughter who graduated from college in May.

The grinning young woman, back row middle, is my sister Sarah Schmerler.

The woman seated is my grandmother Celia Pell, my Bubbie, shown here in celebration for the last time outside the Jewish Home for the Aged in Riverdale where by some miracle my mother Miriam Pell Schmerler top left was able to obtain for Bubbie a private room at the most beautiful home for the aged in the universe–a room overlooking the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge where there is a collection of art so wonderful it will knock your socks off. Especially notable is the fact that I am shown, holding Amelia in my arms, and I was then able to walk. Four years after this photograph was taken I became a paraplegic. At the time I was merely a procrastinator–a vice sadly that continues to this day.

The photograph was taken in my mother’s apartment in Inwood, a neighborhood at the northern tip of Manhattan Island. At the time my mother, a Hebrew educator, was a newly enrolled graduate student–then 65 years-old–at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she later received a doctorate in Hebrew letters after completion of her thesis on the Roman Catholic Church’s significant decision to change its theological doctrine so that today the Jewish people are no longer blamed for the death of Jesus Christ.

In my mind’s eye, I think of this photograph as being taken at Thanksgiving. But by November of 1990, my former wife Diana, my two daughters, and I had relocated from Washington DC, where I lived and worked for 17 years–many of them heavily influenced by Edward R. Murrow’s Thanksgiving Day broadcast “Harvest of Shame” which I had viewed in my grandmother’s Brooklyn apartment and which changed my life (as if I were on the road to Damascus). In November of 1990, we relocated to Durham, NC where I began a new career as a senior technical writer for Northern Telecom–a career that I loved.

Not shown in this photograph is my favorite (and only) nephew Asher Benvenuto Simonson, now 11, who was not yet a gleam in his father Robert Simonson’s eye.

What compelled me to write this Thanksgiving posting is one consequence of this month’s Hurricane Sandy. This posting begins with my mother’s attempt to have a real Thanksgiving overruled, among others, by her brother-like cousin Vremmy (a nickname from the Yiddish name Abraham Meyer), one of the most influential people in my life, publisher of Arts Magazine, who arranged for publication in The Washington Post of an advertisement for my book Learning to Live Again, an advertisement which appeared in the book review section with a photograph of Joanna, then one, and me.

Vremmy died shortly after the advertisement was published leaving his widow Theresa Demick, an elegant and cultured delight in my life and that of my family. Theresa, one of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, was on the 16th floor of her apartment building when the storm hit wiping out the electricity.

Somehow, Theresa managed to get to the street where she wandered around aimlessly, taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, diagnosed with dementia. Now, thanks to the efforts of my sister Sarah, my brother-in-law Robert, and others, Theresa has found a safe berth at the wonderful Jewish Home for the Aged in Riverdale–the wonderful wonderful place where my grandmother lived out her final years with pleasure and respect. Although Theresa suffers, her knowledge of art remains in tact and Sarah feels confident that Theresa will be able to work with the home’s magnificent collection–Theresa safe from harm.

Not shown in the photograph is my sterling prospective son-in-law Jade Kosmos Phillips because Joanna did not meet him until 22 years later when they met while Joanna was working as an ambulance driver–the romance beginning in typical Joanna fashion when she insulted Jade who is a firefighter/paramedic.

The photographer is my now former wife Diana who blessedly drove up from Durham to New York with Joanna earlier this week to comfort Theresa–which should serve to reassure Amelia who also was close to Theresa and who is celebrating Thanksgiving in rural Spain near the Portuguese border, where she is teaching English.

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Tom Connolly, my drumming teacher and friend just arrived and we will now celebrate Thanksgiving, cooking and playing the drums. Tom has invited beautiful women over who are younger than Amelia but who, if they come, I will flirt with shamelessly as I have in the past. After celebrating, making music, and flirting, I will return to you to post my Thanksgiving letter of thanksgiving (or wait for a more auspicious occasion when I have completed work interrupted by an intense case of the flu which has caused me to feel as if I live on another planet).

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Noisy Thanksgiving November 22, 2012

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
November 20, 2012

Presidential Proclamation — Thanksgiving Day, 2012

THANKSGIVING DAY, 2012

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives. As many pause to lend a hand to those in need, we are also reminded of the indelible spirit of compassion and mutual responsibility that has distinguished our Nation since its earliest days.

Many Thanksgivings have offered opportunities to celebrate community during times of hardship. When the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony gave thanks for a bountiful harvest nearly four centuries ago, they enjoyed the fruits of their labor with the Wampanoag tribe — a people who had shared vital knowledge of the land in the difficult months before. When President George Washington marked our democracy’s first Thanksgiving, he prayed to our Creator for peace, union, and plenty through the trials that would surely come. And when our Nation was torn by bitterness and civil war, President Abraham Lincoln reminded us that we were, at heart, one Nation, sharing a bond as Americans that could bend but would not break. Those expressions of unity still echo today, whether in the contributions that generations of Native Americans have made to our country, the Union our forebears fought so hard to preserve, or the providence that draws our families together this season.

As we reflect on our proud heritage, let us also give thanks to those who honor it by giving back. This Thanksgiving, thousands of our men and women in uniform will sit down for a meal far from their loved ones and the comforts of home. We honor their service and sacrifice. We also show our appreciation to Americans who are serving in their communities, ensuring their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. Their actions reflect our age-old belief that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and they affirm once more that we are a people who draw our deepest strength not from might or wealth, but from our bonds to each other.

On Thanksgiving Day, individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate this most American tradition, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country. Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2012, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together — whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors — and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA

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Tom Connolly plays as the turkey cooks

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Katie Gates, PhD., transient brain statistician, Washington, D.C.

Click on Memo to hear the After Pumpkin Pie Trio perform: “Thanks. Giving.”

Memo

 

File:Kerouac by Palumbo.jpg

The spirit of Jack Kerouac (as photographed by Tom Palumbo) returns with our song to wish us all a free-spirited conclusion to Thanksgiving Day, 2012. Kerouac is my daughter Joanna‘s favorite author as she takes an after dinner drink in Durham, N.C. before returning to her nursing school studies.  For daughter Amelia Altalena, where her computer is broken in rural Spain, it is now 3:18 tomorrow morning; celebration must wait for Skype repair as all my dear readers for whom I am thankful, will await the writing of the forthcoming Thanksgiving Letter.

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Afterthought. The idea that I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving appropriately–including, of course, a prayer of thanksgiving–comes as a surprise now that my guests have left. Tom, whom I met at Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe, across the street from my apartment, is relocating to Philadelphia to pursue a music career. State College, sadly, has not yet developed the resources to support musicians serious about their work. The idea of getting together was a spontaneous thought Tom had earlier this week.

Katie’s presence surprised both Tom and me. She was in town visiting friends. Tom was sure she would not come–not recollecting clearly that he had invited her. Neither Tom nor Katie could remember how they knew each other–perhaps through a mutual musical connection. As I helped Tom load his many drums in the car, where Katie accepted Tom’s offer to drive her to her friend’s apartment, I told Katie I do not understand how she arrived here; it is almost as if she never existed at all, but she certainly quickly warmed to the spirit of the occasion, banging drums with enthusiasm. Childlike percussion noise-making now goes on my list of Thanksgiving rituals.

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I end this posting for tonight with the words I first heard Edward R. Murrow broadcast on television after Thanksgiving dinner in 1960 (words I recall each Thanksgiving):

“This is CBS Reports Harvest of Shame. It has to do with the men, women, and children who harvest the crops in this country of ours, the best-fed nation on earth. These are the forgotten people, the under-protected, the under-educated, the under-clothed, the under-fed. We present this report on Thanksgiving because were it not for the labor of the people you are going to meet, you might not starve, but your table would not be laden with  the luxuries that we have all come to regard as essentials. We should like you to meet some of your fellow citizens who harvest the food for the best-fed nation on earth.”

These are the words that inspired me to publish a book on agriculture policy. These are words that cause me concern in the all-too close seasons and months ahead as I view with alarm the world’s adverse weather conditions, short supplies of soybeans and grain, astonishingly high future prices, and by calendar year 2013, a world where people will starve (not because, as has been the case for decades, they do not have enough money to afford food), because there will not be enough food to feed the world’s population.

Yes, automation and other developments have changed the visual portrayal that came to my grandmother’s living room television in 1960. In this global economy, the men, women, and children who harvest our food may not be U.S. citizens or they may not be harvesting in the United States the food we have on our Thanksgiving table.

In Spain, where my younger daughter is currently teaching English, the agricultural attaché at the U.S. embassy in Madrid told me that organic vegetables are a major agricultural export from Spain to the United States.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Hegira Succeeded: Report on the 989-mile-away-Engagement-Party-for-my-daughter Joanna

Mazel tov: Welcome to My Hegira.

Webster’s defines hegira as:

A journey esp. when undertaken to escape from a dangerous or undesirable situation.

Cosmic Invitation

How else to feel other than I am,
often thinking Flash Gordon soap–
O how terrible it must be for a young man
seated before a family and the family thinking
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?
Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
Say All right get married, we’re losing a daughter
but we’re gaining a son–
And should I then ask Where’s the bathroom?

–from Marriage by Gregory Corso

Note to Beatnik Music fans: Tom Connolly, my drumming teacher, has recorded a bongo drum track which will be added to the following recording. Listen here now at this link:

BeatnikJoel

 

The Event has concluded, but the Party is not over.

Thirty minutes before the Party begins at the patio of the Weathervane at Chapel Hill‘s famous Southern Seasons

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It is 6:06 in the morning.

I am back at my apartment in State College PA after the return from the Blessed Event at the patio of the elegant Weathervane Restaurant in Chapel Hill and spending time with Joanna, Amelia and Jade [a lot of time with Joanna Amelia and Jade] and with David Hiscoe, my former boss at Northern Telecom where I worked at Research Triangle Park for four years as a senior technical writer.

[I have never been a junior technical writer or a simple run-of-the-mill technical writer; there is grade inflation in the technical writer world where however young and inexperienced, I have always been a Senior Technical writer.]

Of course, there is the description of THE PARTY.

I will not even pretend to be comprehensive here. I am tired now and my typos are increasing at an astonishing pace.

Relax, dear reader, I will describe the party where Joanna invited her neighbors and friends and Jade imported Brandon, his stepson who is attending Guilford College in a beautiful location outside Greensboro near where my mother was very happy to live.

I will note that the proprietor of the equestrian center where Joanna and Jade plan to marry attended.

Pat and I discussed Joanna‘s plan to have George, Joanna‘s beloved horse, attend as a guest of honor.

Much as she would like to, Joanna cannot ride George because he is old and frail.

Joanna plans to ride side-saddle on Scarlet, the only horse ever to have thrown Joanna. Pat and I discussed the relative merits of each horse participant in Joanna and Jade’s wedding.

The Party and Wedding details have caused my dear muscle-bound future son-in-law to roll his eyes dramatically.

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[Note: Joanna has asserted the right to censor anything I write or any photograph I post and any thought I have in my mind regardless of subject. I have denied her the right to delete photos from my iPhone the instant after they are taken or remove photos from my computer. But this copy will change without notice. You can depend on that.]

This is the ramp the wonderful ground crew of United Airlines constructed and assembled for me and me alone to board the flight to Dulles airport, similar to the ramp used  at Dulles Airport to get to RDU  [Raleigh DUrham International Airport].

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The following is a JMS-approved photograph of the happy couple.

Jade, of course, is wearing his Tom Selleck imitation costume, but that is a story for another time, like the buying shoes story.

Jade Phillips and my only elder daughter pre-celebrate their Engagement Party on September 29th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More to come.

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As an aside….

I am trying not to repeat:

  • I hate United Airlines
  • I hate United Airlines
  • I hate United Airlines

I keep trying to figure out a way to get even with United Airlines for the shabby way the company treated me.

The best solution for  United Airlines is for United CEO Jeff Smisek to hire me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Smisek

I would serve to make United responsive to disabled individuals, especially disabled-veterans, the elderly, and Baby Boomers whose market demands will bankrupt United Airlines if it does not get its act together.

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Thank you dear readers for your donations. Those of you who did not give relax. I got there and back, didn’t I. Let us celebrate.

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The night before I left to return to State College, Joanna came over to my hotel room where Amelia and I cooked eggplant.

Amelia Altalena, Joanna’s younger sister, was appointed Maid of Honor on Saturday night.

Amelia will be flying to London on October 18th to work as an English teacher in rural Spain.  Amelia’s impending departure is the reason Joanna rushed up the ceremony. With Amelia it is easy to say here today off tomorrow for who knows where. Whooooooooooosssssssssssssssssssssss.

Joanna had worked from 5:30 in the morning to 7 PM giving pain medication to hip replacement recovery patients who were not pleased with the amount of pain they were experiencing.

Joanna just collapsed on arrival to my room.

Amelia and I shoooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwed her out of the room and into the car and home to bed before Joanna had to wake up at 5:30 the next morning for another grueling round.

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