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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

  • Day 320: Be the Sugar-Free Change You Want to See in this World!

    Date: 2011.01.05 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    Be The Change You Want To See In This World – Mahatma Gandhi

    During 1930′s, a young boy had become obsessed with eating sugar. His mother was very upset with this. But no matter how much she scolded him and tried to break his habit, he continued to satisfy his sweet tooth. Totally frustrated, she decided to take her son to see his idol – Mahatma Gandhi; perhaps her son would listen to him.

    She walked miles, for hours under scorching sun to finally reach Gandhi’s ashram. There, she shared with Gandhi her predicament. -
    “Bapu, my son eats too much sugar. It is not good for his health. Would you please advise him to stop eating it?”

    Gandhi listened to the woman carefully, thought for a while and replied,
    “Please come back after two weeks. I will talk to your son.”

    The woman looked perplexed and wondered why had he not asked the boy to stop eating sugar right away. She took the boy by the hand and went home.

    Two weeks later they revisited Gandhi. Gandhi looked directly at the boy and said,
    “Boy, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health.”

    The boy nodded and promised he would not continue this habit any longer. The boy’s mother was puzzled. She turned to Gandhi and asked,
    “Bapu, Why didn’t you tell him that two weeks ago when I brought him here to see you?”

    Gandhi smiled,
    “Mother, two weeks ago I was eating a lot of sugar myself.”

  • Day 317: A Universal Truth?

    Date: 2011.01.02 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    “This life…is what you make it. No matter what you are going to mess up sometimes; it’s a universal truth. But the good part is, you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up.

    Girls will be your friends, they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything, they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them.

    Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And babe, I hate to say it, most of them– actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up.

    Because if you give up, you’ll never find your soul mate. You’ll never find that half that makes you whole. And that goes for everything; just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re going to fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself.

    Because if you don’t, then who will sweetie? So. Keep your head high. Keep your chin up. And most importantly, keep smiling. Because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
    Marilyn Monroe

  • Day 316: A New Year with an Old Pro

    Date: 2011.01.01 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    It’s so helpful to have Irish blood!  Means you can drink half a bottle of rose champagne, stay out until 2 a.m. – and wake up in the morning feeling fine.

    No time for a hangover this morning, the first of 2011, because we were scheduled to go to the free 11 a.m. annual New Year’s concert of the Nice Philharmonic (l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice) at the Acropolis.

    When your last address was midtown Manhattan, Nice often seems like a ToyTown. Can you really compare the Nice Philharmonic to anything in New York?

    Little did I know my New Year would begin in the presence of one of those celestial personalities who lift you above the ordinary and tedious and renew your faith.

    From the minute the concert started, it seemed fantastic to me.  ”How can you tell if this is not as good as something in New York, London or Paris?” I whispered to my friend.  None of us knew.

    I was enchanted by the powerhouse conductor, 73-year-old Roberto Benzi. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.  He was wearing a black waistcoat, and standing on a rise in the center of the orchestra. Talk about a commanding figure.

    He was so filled with passion and fire it was like watching a human in musical instrument form.  He was fierce, too.  At one point the audience thought the piece was over and started to clap.  Bad idea.  He turned and threw us all a death glare.

    Not a person to mess with. I loved him!

    At one point, during a slow section (sorry, I don’t know how to write correctly about classical music), he turned to the cellist nearest him and she played solo for a few minutes and it was so beautiful I felt tears come to my eyes.

    Wow, I thought, who knew provincial little Nice, France had such a talent?

    It clearly wasn’t just me who adored Benzi (even though I’m only one who yelled ‘Bravo!”)

    The maestro got four encores (they’re probably not even called that in classical music, sorry again) strutting back and forth onstage and coming out a final time as colored confetti rained down on the audience and Benzi raised a glass of champagne to the audience.

    Back home, I looked up Roberto Benzi.   No wonder I thought he was so great.

    He was born in Marseilles to Italian parents and began studying music at 3 and conducting lessons at 10 with a famous conductor in Paris.  At 11, no less, he conducted concerts in Paris.  He also starred in two French films as a child and became famous all over Europe.

    During his 50-year career, he conducted at pretty much every major orchestra and opera house in the galaxy:  the London Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Ensemble Orchestrale de Paris, to name just a few.

    People were flipping for Benzi 60 years before I did today.  When Benzi was conducting at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris as an 11-year-old in 1949, the German maestro Joseph Krips got to know him.  Both the photographs above are of Benzi as a child with Krips.

    Krips even wrote a letter in 1949 attesting to Benzi’s talent, translated from the German here:

    Roberto Benzi is not a child prodigy. He appears to me as a real piece of music. He does not conduct, he does not make music: he is the music itself. Music springs out from his delicate body and finds its right expression through his movements. What this boy is doing is fascinating and enchanting. All in him is natural. The feeling of this child about the musical line (only reached in mature years by most musicians) is surprisingly already an evidence. He hears each wrong note and corrects the players, like a very experienced conductor. Will God protect the small Roberto and keep him healthy. By following in this way, the level he can reach is immense.

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Bonne Année, Maestro!

  • Day 315: Happy New Year!

    Date: 2010.12.31 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    We’ll be watching the fireworks tonight, New Year’s Eve, somewhere right near the above shot of the Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France.

    Update:  I haven’t blogged here for more than a month.  But I think that brought me crazy good luck.  After writing about my 3-4 weeks on the famed Dukan Diet, which I thought was a total bust since I only lost about three pounds, I flew off to New York.

    I was in New York for another three weeks where I briefly fell off the wagon (M&Ms) for a couple days but then found it easy to go right back to no sweets.  But I definitely didn’t stick with the Dukan diet.  But somehow it must have stuck with me in spirit, because I’ve lost ten pounds in the past month, without really watching my weight.

    I must admit to two slips:   I was buying a friend some gorgeous, expensive chocolates for Christmas (if I can’t have them I want to buy them for someone else!) and I was offered a sample of some tiny dark chocolate at the cash register. I had two.  Wow.  Like instant black heroin shooting through my body.  Delicious!

    Then had a friend over who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth but loves Haagen Dazs macadamia nut brittle ice cream.  So I bought it for her.  But then I had some!  We had decided to start watching the first season of Mad Men and it was all so fun and festive.

    And yes, I had two bowls!   I have to report this as I had a witness.

    I’m not proud that my Year Without Candy has not been 100% pure, but then again, I’ve been pretty damn good.

    What will I do after February 28, 2011 when I will have completed my Year?

    Hard to say.  But I’m afraid to go back to eating candy whenever I want.

    The revelation of these past ten months has been that – giving up my favorite sweets has not been that difficult.

    However, I am always divided on this one issue:

    One side says to me:  There’s no upside to eating sweets.  You’ve already eaten enough candy and dessert for one lifetime.  Stay away!

    The other side says:  We’re all going to die one day anyway.  Why deprive yourself of something you love?

    Who will win?  Devil or angel?

    I have a couple New Year’s resolutions.  One of them was inspired by my friend Antonia who has gone totally sugar-free for the last few weeks.  I’d like to try to go totally sugar-free as a way of celebrating my remaining two months of this year and this blog.   (Right now I still eat things that have sugar added to them, like peanut butter, ketchup, yogurt etc.)

    The other is to get up at the same time every day:  7 a.m.

    Will I succeed?   Will you?

    And how important is it?

    I’m just grateful to have had such an amazing year – and so many wonderful people in my life.  2010 was supposed to be a golden year for people born under my sign, Pisces, and in many ways, it was.

    But we’ve all had times when we felt:  This can’t be my life.

    My old friend, the singer-songwriter Ruth Gerson, who I profiled almost six years ago in The New York Times when we both lived in Manhattan, went through one of those periods in life when everything goes south, sideways and downhill.  It began when her marriage began to unravel a couple of years ago and she eventually got divorced.

    She was in a lot of pain and channeled it by writing new songs, sitting alone in a deserted office in Chelsea every morning.

    When she was done, she took off – and so did her life.

    She’s now living in San Francisco with her two daughters and is engaged to be married to a wonderful man.

    Ruth has always managed her career on her own terms, which has meant turning down big record labels who wanted to sign her.  I think she’s one of the most talented people out there.

    Last week, she brought down the house on Craig Ferguson’s late-night show with the title track of her new album that she wrote when she was sad and in despair: This Can’t Be My Life.

    Who can’t relate?

    And what’s better than when you get to celebrate your new life?

    Happy New Year!

  • Day 287: The Sugar Monkey

    Date: 2010.12.03 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    Check out my article “The Sugar Monkey,” just out in my friend Nancy O’Hara’s new magazine and website “Together” about addiction and recovery.

  • Day 271: Paradise on the Grand Concourse

    Date: 2010.11.17 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 4

    Whenever my visit to New York City comes to an end, I go someplace very different from the fast-paced, glamorous life my friends/former colleagues lead in glittering Manhattan.

    The longer I’ve been away, the more intense Manhattan Island seems to be, though I love it and will always love it – and it will always feel more like home to me than Boston, which is near where I grew up.

    I used to adore my high-rise apartment, which is smack in the center of the island with huge open views of the downtown skyline and the Hudson River.  I still love it, but it seems more harsh and exposed to me now.  I still sleep well there, but I feel as if the energy is coming at me relentlessly, that there is no escape from the burning power of  Manhattan.

    At the end of my last visit, I took the subway to the Cloisters, at the northern tip of Manhattan – and then walked all the way back down the island through Washington Heights, my favorite neighborhood, and down to a friend’s dinner party on Central Park West.

    I fantasized about moving to Washington Heights if I ever decided to move back to New York from Europe.  In a way I feel more comfortable there, with salsa blaring from the sidewalk stores and hair salons that cater to curly hair like mine.

    This month’s visit concluded with a walk from 149th Street in the South Bronx along the once-storied Grand Concourse to 192nd Street.  I was inspired to walk the Grand Concourse after reading Hollywood promoter/producer extraordinaire Jerry Weintraub’s memoir, When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead:  Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man.

    Weintraub, like many of Jewish kids (Ralph “Lifshitz” Lauren, Calvin Klein etc.), came from this area of the Bronx.  Weintraub in particular spoke of this amazing movie palace, Loew’s Paradise, (in the photo I took above) a spectacular, now 81-year-old building on the Grand Concourse at 188th Street, which inspired hundreds of ambitious young kids like him living in otherwise mundane surroundings.

    I wanted to come see the Loew’s Paradise.

    In the early 1990s, as a reporter with the Associated Press, I came to the South Bronx to do stories at a time when the nightmarish “Fort Apache, the Bronx” days of apartment burnings and the crack epidemic were still in force.  It was a dangerous place.

    Today I felt perfectly comfortable walking alone even though there was not a single other Caucasian face to be found as I walked the Grand Concourse,  a stately boulevard studded with some gorgeous Art Deco apartment buildings.  In its heyday, in the 30s, 40s and 50s – it was called the Park Avenue for Jews and Italians who escaped the tenements of Manhattan.

    Then they left in the white flight as African-Americans and Latinos arrived.  I hoped to see at least a few elderly Jews on my walk.  But I didn’t.  I walked into some of the nicer apartment buildings and talked to the concierges who said a few very elderly Jews still lived there.

    Mostly I saw the names of old temples and synagogues obscured by signs for Baptist and 7th Day Adventist churches.  And I heard Spanish a lot.  I spoke to a woman near a bus stop who’s lived in the Bronx for 40 years. She said there are still a lot of drug dealers on the side streets but the dark days of the ’70s and ’80s are gone.

    Now the Grand Concourse is part of the South Bronx Enpowerment Zone – a $100 million initative begun in 1996 involving areas of the Bronx, Washington Heights and Harlem – that’s reinvigorated the area.

    I enjoyed talking to various people along the Grand Concourse who were so friendly to me.  When I got to Loew’s Paradise theater, it was so exciting to see the place that meant so much to Weintraub.  It’s among a lot of non-descript stores but you can see its past magnificence.  It was closed for years but a new guy bought it a few years ago and now they’re having lots of concerts and awards shows there.

    The guy inside the ticket booth said it was closed at the moment but I begged him to show me inside.  I wanted to see the enormous lobby with its cherubs and gargoyles – the theater is a Bronx cousin of Radio City Music Hall, built in 1929.

    He turned out to be a great guy, a lifelong resident of the Bronx, who took me inside and I was thrilled.  He wanted to be sure I walked even a bit further, to see the cottage where Edgar Allan Poe lived in 1812 – this small, normal-looking little house in the middle of the Grand Concourse.

    When Poe lived here, the area was rural, part of Westchester County.  I love old New York history, trying to picture what Manhattan and environs were when they were mainly farmlands.

    I saw a public elementary school across the street from the Poe cottage.  Before I jumped back on the B train to Caucasian Manhattan, I wanted to go inside the school.   The world I come from in New York is privileged, moneyed, media etc.  My friends’ kids go through all the rigamarole to get into the best private schools.

    But I fantasize about living in one of the grand old buildings on the Concourse.  And what would it be like to send a kid to a local public school?  This is the other side of the world in a way, a public school in the South Bronx.

    I walked into the school, which is K through 6.  It was so sunny, cheerful and bright. I went by the classrooms and read what the teachers wrote on the classroom doors about what their students were doing and learning.  One fourth grade class was collecting fall leaves and pressing them under paper, the same thing I did in elementary school.

    It was 3pm so parents were coming to pick up their kids.  The teachers were smiling, the kids were joking around.  I felt no trouble or tension.

    As I walked back to the subway station at Fordham Road to catch the B train back to Manhattan, I ran into a concierge who I’d spoken to at an apartment building near 165th Street.  He was on his way home. He was delighted to see I’d walked all the way up to the Poe cottage.

    I got back on the subway and began seeing white faces after we roared past 125th Street in Harlem.  I got out near Macy’s on 34th Street because I had to buy something before I left.

    I saw a Christmas sign on the side facade of Macy’s:  BELIEVE.

  • Day 265: “Morning Glory” – Not a Movie for Diabetics

    Date: 2010.11.09 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 4

    Last night I returned to the scene of a former career detour: the few years I spent as an entertainment reporter and movie critic on American television.

    I went to a critics screening near Lincoln Center of a new movie starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton called “Morning Glory.” It purports to be a quasi rom-com set on a morning TV show like Good Day New York but it’s so dated you’d think it was 1975.

    Dated, but bizarre.  Barely a mention is made of the Internet, which is the process of decimating network news as it did with the music industry.  At the same time the fictional show’s morning anchors are 64 (Keaton) and 68 (Harrison) which actually makes sense in a world where no one under 40 watches TV anymore and the airwaves are filled with matronly Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford types.

    The first sign that this was a piece of dreck, literally, was when I saw the call letters for the network where the morning show, Daybreak, takes place:  IBS.

    What screenwriter comes up with the acronym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome for the name of a faux network for a film?   One that’s trying to tell us how he feels about his own creation?

    I could go on about the creaky plot involving an eager new executive producer (McAdams) hired to turn a troubled morning show with egomaniacal co-anchors into a ratings success against, of course, all odds.

    Every turn is telegraphed about 15 minutes in advance and every scene is reminiscent of something you’ve seen before – but probably in a much better movie. (1976′s brilliant Network and 1987′s Broadcast News remain the gold standards of the genre.)

    But what the movie almost unwatchable for me was the star, Rachel McAdams.

    She’s playing the ultimate American film archetype: the cute, yet fuckable, spunky yet vulnerable, heroine who by dint of her moxie comes in and saves the day.

    She redeems bitter ex-foreign correspondent Ford (who, along with network executive Jeff Goldblum, are the only bright spots in the movie), keeps the show on the air and gets the guy.

    All while wearing a ponytail and bangs usually seen on pre-teens and flashing a constant simpering, saccharine smile that made me feel as if her main focus was reveling in her own adorableness.

    Glucose meters should be handed out to audience members.

    I’ve spent the last six years living in France and realized with a shock last night that it’s taken its toll.

    French women just don’t act like this – in real life or in the movies. Walk the streets of Paris or the south of France or deep in the Cevennes – you just aren’t going to find any French woman over 25 who gets over by wearing a ponytail and the kind of smile you associate with a 5-year-old girl who’s just been taken out for ice cream by her daddy. Nor are they likely to weep in public.

    The French call Americans les grands enfants – or large children.  I hope not too many of them see this movie.

    Because  in Morning Glory, whatever the situation, McAdams beams adorably.  She pouts a few times, especially when grumpy ex-newsman Ford (rightly) mocks her bangs and tells her she has “daddy issues.”  And of course she tears up more than a few times, all in the process of winning over said daddy figure.

    Note:  What made Holly Hunter’s equally high-strung and cute TV producer so memorable in Broadcast News was that she had her crying fit in private after hanging up the phone from a tough call.

    When McAdams’ love interest, played by Patrick Wilson, came onscreen, there was zero chemistry between them.  All I could see were their high cheekbones, blinding Zoom!-style bleached white teeth and the sense they were both celebrating their own good looks and winning smiles so much they couldn’t even see each other.

    My old friend, longtime movie critic Jeffrey Lyons sat right next to us last night. Jeffrey and  sat through a screening of Million Dollar Baby years ago and as far as I know were the only two people in the universe who disliked it.  I was sure Jeffrey would have harsh words for this movie as well.

    He liked it!  So did Rex Reed!

    I guess they like spunk.  Me, I’m with Lou Grant.

  • Day 263: New York, New York

    Date: 2010.11.08 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    Whenever I come back to New York City, where I lived for 15 years, it’s as if it’s 1995 and I never left.  I hurl myself full-throttle into Manhattan, including going to the opening of “Carmen” at the Metropolitan Opera (left) thanks to a former TV producer friend who now has a top job in management at the Met.

    And Manhattan responds by holding a knife to my throat, letting me know that you can’t just leave and expect to be the same person you were when you were living here.

    I used to keep up a furious pace while living here.  But after a few days back, I realize that years spent in a 500-year-old village on the Mediterranean have taken their toll.  I start to feel a little overwhelmed, tired even – which never happened when I was a full-time resident here.  Back then, this hyper-caffeinated island just fed my hyper-caffeinated soul.

    As William Wordsworth put it in Intimations of Immortality:

    There was a time when meadow, grove and stream

    The earth, and every common sight,

    To me did seem,

    Apparelled in celestial light,

    The glory and the freshness of a dream,

    It is not now as it hath been of yore;

    Turn wheresoe’r I may,

    By night or day,

    The things which I have seen, I can now see no more.

    I love Central Park, especially the 6.2 mile loop I used to run almost every other day. Whenever I’m near the park, I often look toward the interior – as if the 30-year-old me is still in there somewhere.

    Instead, I walk part of the loop with my cousin Kathleen, who’s come to town to catch “Billy Elliot” with me, a Broadway show I’ve been meaning to see for years.  Kathleen and I have never lived in the same place but we have a history of connecting at key moments, often taking a walk wherever we are and talking about our family.

    Kathleen sometimes used to come to the city with her son T.J. Wagner, who loved Broadway shows.  We went to see “Cats” right before it closed. I expected it to be a bore-snore, strictly for blue-hairs from Iowa fresh off the Big Apple tour buses. Instead, I loved it and T.J. was inspired.  Today he’s a drama student at Ithaca College and Kathleen made me email the cellphone photo we took from the theater (left) to him at school.

    Those who have been reading this blog know that I spent three weeks on the Dukan diet, fully expecting to stay on it until I met my weight loss goal.

    Instead, I returned to the U.S. on Oct. 25th and promptly fell off the wagon. Not only did I go off the Dukan diet, I also ate some candy.  The Dukan diet is over. No way could I keep it going over here.  And I was horrified that I ate some M&Ms and some Kudos bars during my first week here.

    I have always been afraid that if I began to eat candy again, I would never be able to give it up again.  Instead, after just four days, on Oct. 31, I vowed to get back on the wagon.

    I haven’t had anything sweet since.  It hasn’t been difficult.

    I doubt I’ve had any more weight loss but it’s heartening to know that falling off the candy wagon for four days doesn’t mean I can’t get right back on track.

    I might re-start the Dukan diet when I go back to France, but it’s too difficult to stick with it in New York City.

    I’m also mindful of something a friend in France said to me a few days before I left for New York.  All this diet and weight stuff on your blog, she said, it’s not really you.

    What’s much more me is seeing live art like “Carmen” and “Billy Elliot.”  I am fascinated by people at the top of their game – and you don’t get much higher than the Metropolitan Opera or Broadway.

    The young boys who star in “Billy Elliot” amaze me almost more than the sopranos and tenors at the Met.  I can’t begin to fathom what it’s like to be 13 years old and in charge of carrying a Broadway show, complete with complicated balletic choregraphy and aerial stunts.

    But I do know that they get me out of my own petty head and inspire me, along with a memoir by Andre Agassi called “Open” with which I am currently mesmerized.

    Like people who reach the Met and Broadway, Agassi, of course, is a champion.

    I like what he writes on page 359 about how he continued playing and excelling at tennis, a sport literally forced on him by a domineering father:

    “I play and keep playing because I choose to play.  Even if it’s not your ideal life, you can always choose it.  No matter what your life is, choosing it changes everything.”

  • Day 255: Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear… of Candy

    Date: 2010.10.30 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    What can you say about a journey to Washington D.C. to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (view from our perch at left this morning) that began a week ago with a fall off the entire wagon?

    The rally, at least, was no joke.

    Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert may not have kept me on the wagon but they did restore me to sanity. After more than five years living abroad and coming perilously close to joining other expats in denigrating America, I felt my own shaky patriotism snap back in business today.

    Some memorable moments among many:  Ozzy Osbourne and Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens doing, of all things, a bit, the Roots’ Cap’n Kirk’s blistering guitar,  Stephen Colbert’s Chilean-style emergence from the “fear bunker,” Father Guido Sarducci listing world religions and asking God for a sign as to which was the valid one,  the abrupt arrival of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, all of us doing the Wave on the Mall, jumping up and down and laughing “like a mad scientist” on cue from the Mythbusters.

    My favorite bit? R2D2′s dignified appearance and brazen roll over Stewart’s foot.

    I emailed a friend:  It surpassed all my expectations.  I thought it would just be fun but whatever you saw on TV or read online, you’ve got to know how amazing it was from the ground. Three hours of great music and laughing out loud, executed guerrilla-style by scary-smart people.  Blue skies, perfect weather and an Independence Day-style view of the U.S. Capitol in the distance.  I don’t want to write about it, read about it – or watch a thousand pundits talk about it.  I’m just glad I was there. It was a highlight of my life.  It was not something to watch from afar on a screen and cynically deconstruct from the safety of an iMac. I feel weary about even being a reporter today, knowing the thousands of other writers weighing in at the same time, grinding down the experience to a fine nothingness. I bet I’ll be embarrassed for expressing my enthusiasm and how moved I was at times and how clever it seemed to me — if I start reading all the reviews.

    For some reason, I focused on Tony Bennett’s suit and crisp orange tie  and pocket handkerchief when he came out at the end to sing “America the Beautiful.”  The lyrics were on the giant TelePrompter, like every last second of the three-hour event.  It had all gone so unbelievably smoothly.   Try doing deft political satire in a superhero cape and in front of a giant hand puppet (Colbert) and singing off-key (Stewart) in a Stars and Stripes fleece jacket in front of an estimated 215,00 people and see how well you pull it off.

    So when it came to 84-year-old Bennett, I worried that being old, he might blow it.  I was worried more for him than us.  His aura of utter professionalism, beautiful suit and 20th-century class made him seem more vulnerable to me.

    I know he is the ultimate in old pros. I still wondered what this meant to him, what it’s like to be one of many performers on the roster at a show like this, waiting backstage for your small moment. Tony delivered.  Of course he did, he’s Tony Bennett. This was probably just another gig for him.  He’s possibly the last person to get rattled.

    It’s why I love show people so much – they give me so much hope.  To me they’re as vital as neurosurgeons.   I admire them so much more than reporters or critics.  There is just no comparison.  I could never pull off what they did today, I can only praise, criticize or analyze it.  Those talents always come up so short to me when you contrast it to the O’Jays in their white suits stepping out onto the “Love Train.”  It was a gift not to be a reporter, critic or pundit today.

    I’d rather not report, then, my fall off the wagon that coincided with my trip back to the U.S.  I want the rally glow to stick…

    I landed at JFK last week and lasted one day… I discovered some old leftover Kudos granola chocolate chip bars in the refrigerator in my apartment and ate them. I also ate a few M&Ms I found in the vegetable drawer.  Hard fall off a Year Without Candy.  I’m not proud.  I was so disciplined for so long.

    Why did I do it? I don’t know.  A couple days later at a reunion party thrown by an old friend for a lot of us ex-MSNBC people, I freely ate potato chips and cheese.   Total fall off the Dukan diet.

    I was going to get right back on the no-candy, full Dukan diet horse, but it was time to hop the train to D.C. to the rally.  I forgot to pack warm clothes, forgot we were going to get up at the crack of dawn (below in the pitch dark) to get to the National Mall, forgot to buy some good food.

    I had to layer up, feeling like a Slavic peasant woman, while others wore attractive hats fit to go caribou hunting with Sarah Palin.  But we got a great place to stand, just a few feet away from the stage.

    All there was to eat were Zone and Clif bars, basically candy bars.  I ate them.  But if there’s any bright side to falling off the wagon, it’s that the bars seemed too sweet to me.  And I didn’t succumb to the big glazed doughnuts being sold just a few feet away from our perch.

    Like so many people on the Mall, we stuck around afterwards, sitting on the steps of the Smithsonian Air and Space museum – then took a pedicab to a restaurant on the water.

    It was a great day.  My plan is to return to my Year Without Candy tomorrow and write these six past days off as field research.   So far, my inner scientist says it’s much easier to fall off the wagon than I thought.  But no lashes for me.  I won’t stone myself.  I think I will get right back on track of No Candy tomorrow.  In fact I threw out every bit candy back in my New York apartment.

    Tomorrow’s another day.  But to get back to today for a moment.

    I wasn’t sure I was going to like Stewart’s big (12 minutes) speech at the end because the rally had walked such a high wire between comedy and message, and I was afraid he would come off as preachy.

    “I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism, or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are, and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times.”


  • Day 243: Does Discipline Beget Discipline?

    Date: 2010.10.22 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    If you’ve been reading A Year Without Candy for the past two weeks, you know that on Oct. 5th I began the Dukan Diet, a strict new diet sweeping France and which has become very popular in the U.K.    People report miracles of weight loss on it.

    I’ve eaten nothing but protein (meat and fish) and vegetables in the past two and half weeks.  Most people (just check out the voluminous Dukan diet forums online) report losing 10-12 pounds easily in the first three weeks. In contrast, I’ve only lost two pounds and my pants are still tight.

    Bitter?  I was a few days ago.  Especially that I’ve gone public not only with this blog but with friends and acquaintances. Therefore I am on the receiving end of helpful advice from all and sundry about my inexplicable lack of weight loss.

    What’s worse than suddenly developing a freakish metabolism impervious to the kind of diet that Gandhi might find challenging?

    Helpful advice from friends!

    Of course they mean well.

    A few days ago, pissed off, I decide to inform the truculent Universe that I was going to continue with the Dukan diet, despite Its mean league of gods clearly and deliberately trying to thwart me.

    Incredibly, I even thought, in cloying Pollyanna style, well at least I’ve lost two pounds!  That’s better than nothing!

    A funny thing happened.  The diet has become much easier.  The first week was a real struggle.  I had no energy, I had bad dreams when I wasn’t dreaming of french fries, and I never thought I’d make it two weeks.  And that was when I still thought I’d be losing weight!

    Almost three weeks in, I feel wonderful.  I do occasionally miss carbohydrates.  But I feel energized, happy, light, fired up.

    I always figured that giving up the sweets I love would be next to impossible.  Now I’m barely eating anything that I love, but I feel so much better.

    All I really eat is yogurt, eggs, chicken, fish, vegetables, steak and hamburger.

    Does discipline beget more discipline?

    Do you really need to eat as much as you think you do?

    Is this what happens when you push past disappointment and no results and keep going?

    Don’t get me wrong.  Feeling my pants still so tight after all this time is very discouraging.

    But at the same time, becoming more disciplined is cutting some of the extraneous fat from my brain, my character, my personality.

    I have liftoff.

    One person wrote to this blog a few days ago that maybe this diet just isn’t working for me and since I don’t look heavy, I should just quit and try something else.  I totally understand her perspective.  And while I’m not heavy and have never had eating issues, I have gained at least 20 pounds in the last six years without changing any eating or exercise habits.

    Why embrace those 20 pounds?  I don’t want them.  I don’t know now if I’ll ever get rid of them but I’m not ready to just accept them.

    I also remembered something that may be further proof that I am an alien life form which explains my current metabolism issue.

    I have fair skin, being of Irish descent.

    One of my closest friends since college also has fair Irish skin.  Years ago, during our college years, we used to go to her grandmother’s spread in Palm Springs for Easter break.

    Cam and I would bake in the sun poolside for hours without an iota of sunscreen. Cam would always wind up lobster red.

    I remained white as snow, impervious to  searing, 100+ degree desert sun.  A few days later I might develop a slight tan.

    Cam could never believe it.  There was no explanation for it.

    Helpful advice, anyone?


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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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