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“And now, right here on our stage…” by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Variety Shows

/ Stories

In the years when I was growing up, which were the early years of television, my family watched a lot of TV together. My dad had his recliner, just like Archie Bunker, which no one else was allowed to sit in. My mom sat on one end of the sofa to his right, crocheting. The…
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My Mom Was a Wonderful Mother, But Her Cooking…? by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Mealtime

/ Stories

My mom was a wonderful mother in many ways – patient, modest, innately kind — but she was not a particularly good cook. “Oh, I was a boring cook,” she admitted once when she was in her 70s and taking her meals in the dining room at Leisure World, the retirement facility where she and…
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That Summer in Europe by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By That Summer

/ Stories

It seemed reasonable to me. I was about to go to Europe for three months, and if I budgeted myself correctly the trip would cost $450 for the entire summer. So that’s what I did. It was 1971 and I was 20, the summer between my junior and senior years of college. I’d saved money…
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Dad’s Las Vegas, My Las Vegas by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Family Trips

/ Stories

Vegas was totally different in the early ’60s. With 100,000 residents it had one twentieth the population of today, and while it had a certain tacky sheen it hadn’t approached the aggressively grotesque grandiosity you see today. It was quieter, more modest, less inclined to force itself down your throat.
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Watching Whoopi Get Famous by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Interviews

/ Stories

The first time I encountered Whoopi Goldberg, she was doing her act at a tiny performance space in San Francisco’s South of Market district. The proprietor at 544 Natoma, a friendly madman named Peter Hartman, invited me to drop by and catch a new solo performer. The name sounded like an old-school Borscht Belt comic.…
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My Journey to Rwanda by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Volunteering

/ Stories

Monday, June 9, 2008. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. I awake early and hear my hostess Shirley Randell swimming in her pool. The goat outside my window bleats. A bit later Shirley, dressed in the sari that’s her daily costume, is rushing off to work. I arrived yesterday, bleary and beat. Shirley was on the…
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Confessions of a Recovering Film Critic by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Fame

/ Stories

I never asked to be a movie critic. And yet it happened. People don’t believe me when I say this; they assume movie reviewing is such a plum job that I must have scrambled and hustled to get there. Not really. In 1991 I’d been working at the San Francisco Chronicle seven years when the…
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The Day I Met Lucille Ball by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Fame

/ Stories

I’d heard how tough and intimidating Lucille Ball could be, but on the day I interviewed her at her home in Beverly Hills she was warm, unguarded and down-to-earth. It felt like hanging out with a favorite aunt. Lucy picked up quickly on the fact that I was a fan, and since I was young…
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My Brother Dan by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By Birth Order

/ Stories

Compared to most mid-century couples, my parents married late. Dad was 34, Mom 29, and they figured they had no time to waste in starting a family. My brother Danny, born August 25, 1949, came first, and for a brief time he reigned unchallenged, the celebrated prince. For Dad, it was a long-deferred dream to…
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Don’t Cry for Me, West Covina by
25
(28 Stories)

Prompted By My Hometown

/ Stories

January 1, 1955. My father is watching the Rose Bowl on television. It’s freezing in Chicago that day, but bright and glorious in Pasadena where Ohio State trounces USC. Everyone looks happy, healthy. “Wouldn’t it be nice to raise these boys in California, where the sun shines all year long?” my dad asks my mother.…
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