Okay, I just came back from the World Domination Summit in Portland.
Which is not a cult.
Or a secret neo-fascist meeting.
Or a collection of merry kinksters.
The World Domination Summit, created by traveler/author/entrepreneur (and confessed introvert) Chris Guilleabeu, brings together a number of people who have done really interesting things with their lives with a larger group of people who are interesrwd in doing really (or more) interesting things with their lives.
For me, the highlights were a slick brilliant presenter on presentation who quoted Jesus AND Eva Peron, a guy who looked like Santa Claus and quoted the Bible, and a Christian author who used to drunk-tweet after watching TED talks.
Any conference where the bathrooms remain immaculate is my kind of conference.
Any conference where this confirmed cheerful atheist says to herself, "You know, I really ought to read the New Testament again," is..my kind of conference?
I want to be snarky, but I can't stay snarky. The first speaker, Nancy Duarte, used Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to make major, powerful points about how to present to an audience. And the last speaker, Don Miller, analyzed a picture of Dr. King marching with Ralph Abernathy. I believe it was the March on Selma, and you'll have to forgive me that I don't remember. But it was clearly one where people were sure they were going to be killed.
And many of the attendees put on a life jacket, jumpedi in an inner tube, and together with some other brave souls, jumped in the Willamette River, and held hands in the longest continuous in-the-water chain on record.
Sugar Puss O'Shea: Yes, I love him. I love those hick shirts he wears with the boiled cuffs and the way he always has his vest buttoned wrong. Looks like a giraffe, and I love him. I love him because he's the kind of a guy that gets drunk on a glass of buttermilk, and I love the way he blushes right up over his ears. Love him because he doesn't know how to kiss, the jerk! (Ball of Fire, 1941)
David Rakoff died on Thursday. It doesn't surprise me how many people are grieving him, or that he could be so loved. The only thing that surprises me is how he managed to get so much work done while being so joyfully central to so many people--and being quite ill some of that time. Is it possible that there were, perhaps, identical twin Davids? And that we might someday soon hear his voice again?
Here's what I remember:
I met David Rakoff first on the phone. He worked for a literary agency, I worked for a movie company, scouting material. We agreed to meet, sight unseen, at the Time Cafe. "You'll know me," he said, "because I look like the gay version of
This was true.
What was also true: he knew--and often recited--Barbara Stanwyck's love speech about dorky Gary Cooper from "Ball of Fire." By heart. He sent my little nephew books just because my stories about him cheered him up (they finally met when Sam was in his 20s). He knew everyone Canadian, and eventually everyone. He was prickly, and kind, and unbearably funny, and never truly mean.
When we met, in the late 80s, told me there were many streets in New York he could not pass without thinking of a person--or people--who had lived on them, and that he had lost.
A Saturday ago: outside noisy (Pride Parade + Saturday!) Prospect Park in Brooklyn: Faith and I are waiting for Jeff to pick us up. A little girl (7 or 8?) with a beautiful rainbow painted on her face, asks if she can pet Faith. Her mom gives her permission. The little girl gives Faith a heavy, awkward touch on Faith's butt. "Can I walk away now?" She asks her mother. Mom says yes.
The little girl goes a few yards, and the mother spells out the word "A-U-T-I-S-M." Mom and I talk a little about the girl, and how she used to be afraid to even touch a dog--but now they are thinking about getting one.
The little rainbow girl comes back, and I, and another random guy from Brooklyn, proceed to give the little girl a workshop on dog petting. Meanwhile, Faith, once the most anxious dog in the world, proceeds to lie down on the busy Brooklyn sidewalk while the little girl pets Faith and her mom takes a picture. The little girl says she would like a dog exactly like Faith.
I think this is one of the best days of my entire life.
Reality TV: not a big fan. I worked in television for too many years, trolling for "true crime" movies back in the day, to really believe that things can be "real" or "true" on television. (One thing I do know for sure, to use an Oprahism: Valerie Bertinelli is a really nice person and an amazingly hard worker.)
Still, this clip, from a new Animal Planet show about people overcoming their extreme animal phobias, just breaks my heart. It's a cliche, but it's not: a big tough-looking guy, terrified of ALL pit bulls. Which doesn't just mean that he avoids pit bulls. It means he avoids places where pit bulls MIGHT be...like dog friendly parks. Which means his time with his family outside is highly limited.
I identify. I was never quite as phobic as this guy...but I would cross the street, and I would never pet a dog. It made no sense to me at all. My shift took years and years, and more than one dog. This guy has a very good reason for being afraid of this breed, and I salute him for doing this at all---let alone doing it on TV. This is NOT about him creating a brand, or selling food, or showing up at openings for large sums of money. He's doing it to get part of his life back.
The guy who was playing the piano said it had been a long time since he had played, and he could remember the name of the sweet, sad, song he was playing--he had learned it at school a long time ago. I told him that these pianos were all over the city, and he was really happy to hear it. After he was done, he scanned the QR code on the piano to learn more about the program. The woman in the background is his sweetheart...you can see how happy this made her. I loved stumbling across this. It makes me love New York even more. And on Father's Day: it reminded me of my late father, who fell in love in New York and with New York so many years ago...and loved playing the piano.
My colleague Gabe Stein and I made a short film about a delightful yarn project in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. The team calls themselves the Looons--please watch the film to see why. Luisa and Nicki, the owner of the three cats (the ooos in the name), say that the cats were instrumental in making the tree yarn sculpture you'll see here. Sadly, the cats were not available for filming. They were probably too busy playing with yarn. :) Yes, I do think dogs can contribute to yarn projects. Just not this one. Also, please go visit the adorable home store Luisa and Nicki run, Domus. It is eight tons of awesome.