I just decided to submit a project to the American Express Members Project at http://www.membersproject.com/Health_Fitness/6324?search=true. I call mine: Computers for Kids' Cures. Vote for it please after July 3. Here's a description: "I want to create a way for individuals and businesses to donate
computers and gadgets--from laptops and MP3 players to cellphones and videogame
systems--specifically for pediatric cancer patients (and those of other
diseases) that require lengthy, intravenous treatments or hospital stays, inpatient or outpatient. When I had
cancer and a bone marrow transplant 10 years ago, I was in the hospital for 30 days
of treatment; I also spent many other full days and weeks seemingly cut-off from the world. Yet a computer corporation executive who knew my family changed my life that year. He let me borrow a laptop,
and in turn, I left the hospital to become a writer. I would like to
focus on products that help patients explore their creativity, stay in
touch with friends and peers or connect to new ones (as well as family), and give them a strong sense
of distraction during very uncomfortable and long procedures like intravenous infusions and scans. I would also like to persuade and empower
hospitals to bring free wi-fi and cellular phone access to pediatric cancer wards--as well as
units where young adults receive treatment, because, as we know, many young adults are marginalized by falling into the gap between pediatric and adult. I'll say it again: Please vote for my idea. I won't get anything from it but to see my project come to life and hopefully help some kids get through some very tough times. Yes, sometimes I am earnest.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing one Chris Eigeman, the witty actor from films by directors of talky, NY movies (Whit Stillman, Noah Baumbach) that I've admired for years. Today the story runs in the LA Times Calendar section: Read it here or see the text version and a large addendum of extra quotes that couldn't make it into the story after the jump. One thing you'll learn about the actor who's been thought of us as the image of urbanity is that he grew up pretty far from the NY prep-school/debutante scene. Another thing you'll learn is that you don't have to be fit for playing a neurotic as long as you can act. Again, here's the piece and below it, extra quotes for all you closet "Metropolitan" fans...
Somehow, someone knew I would be right for the job. No matter how many people profiled, books and concerts reviewed, health issues probed, travels observed, or personal essays written, it was all leading up to a Men's Journal story on the top high-end, foodie burgers in America (not the best burger, or best traditional burger, proper, mind you). It began as a longer, through-written piece with lots of criticism and description but due to page counts in the mag business, it turned into something more like a short guide to a few favorites. But check it out all the same (click on the image once, and once again, to read the text in larger font). And please e-mail me your comments (but note that we went to great pains not to include in our favorites the already over-covered, famous burgers, like DB Bistro's, even if we did sneak in the giant mess of a burger at the Old Homestead for those who need celebrity meats in their lives). Frankly, if I had had complete control over the story, I would have added in Boa Steakhouse for the LA section (not Father's Office, the Counter, or Cut's new Kobe sliders in 90210), and I certainly would have given runner up to the following entry:
Grilled Snake River Kobe Beef Burger, $17.95
Martini House; Helen, CA
An eight-ounce grind of American Kobe (also called
Wagyu) from Snake River farms, which makes the most consistently textured grind
of that beer-fed, massaged, butter-tasting meat. It’s only served medium rare
(without lettuce and tomatoes), and wet with a thin, house-made French-style
dressing before receiving a topping of nutty gruyere and Napa Valley-white-port-stewed
onions on a charred semolina bun with serious bite and chewing requirements. It’s
just mildly seasoned (no spice), and the 30% fat content renders it luxuriantly
textured though without palpable blubber. “Even when there’s no color left in it, it never gets dry,”
says chef/owner Todd Humpries. Call it the perfect accompaniment to a
long, arduous day of Sideways-style wine guzzling but don’t combine with any
I adore the Sopranos--perhaps more than the average fanatic--even if this season has been fairly disappointing between episodes two and a few weeks ago. For that reason, though, it's been very hard for me to watch the writers and producers make a mockery of therapy all these years. From a family connected to the profession, I have to say that not only has Dr. Melfi been a poor therapist--which is fine and interesting to show, though I'm not sure that creator David Chase saw her that way from day one. She, and others in the profession on the show, also cross all kinds of important lines that real therapists wouldn't cross. Such as: how she socializes with her therapist, Elliot Kupferberg, played by Peter Bogdanovich. Of course, the "new" research that he cites this season--that sociopaths actually don't benefit from therapy, and may use it to enable and rationalize their behaviors--is real even if it's 30 years old. But last's night's contention that "the new thing" is "psychodynamic" therapy really got therapists angry all over the country. Psychodynamic therapy, of course, evolved from Freud and is the sort of purist, old-school talking-cure therapy that's losing popularity on its own as eclectic integration of the form along with cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms grow across the country (though the psychodynamics still have a stronghold in New York; see the CUNY clinical psych graduate program). The point, however, remains that psychodynamic therapy is what Melfi has been using on Tony all this time (and that Tony is lucky to have found a true M.D. psychiatrist that actually doesn't just prescribe pills but speaks with her clients in an era when many private practice psychiatrists mainly do "medication management" so they can bill for five patients an hour and leave the talking to psychologists). Why Chase couldn't quite get this stuff right is beyond me (how about suggesting groundbreaking schema therapy for sociopathy--a way to change people with persistent personality disorders? Or perhaps Chase is implying that Melfi just decided to lie and insult Tony's intelligence for her own private victory over the sociopathic hulk, though I doubt he was going that deep). For this and other reasons--I loved Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas, but has she turned in more than a few passable performances since Sopranos season one?--I am happy to see Dr. Melfi exit. Again, there's a lot of Sopranos love here, but this therapeutic and medical relationship wasn't exactly the highlight of the series that changed television, and more fans should recognize that.
If you know LA, you know that Angelenos go ga-ga for Eames chairs or any semblance of the fact that they have so-called mid-mod style (even though, I'm told, the mid-century revival is "so over."). I am not, I should admit, a card-carrying member of the mechanized mid-mod subculture (i.e. those who buy mass-produced items that lose their individuality when everyone has one), but dammit if you won't find a Herman Miller fiberglass shell-rocker in my East Side living room. So, when Modernica put on its annual warehouse sale today in the warehouse district, I trudged on down, both to perhaps look for a new find and to observe my fellow consumers in their natural habitats. It was a sight: hipsters everywhere bonding over the desire for molded fiberglass and Noguchi coffee tables so they could all share the same interior design. Five young men about my age were so impressed with my find (four rich, teal side-chairs which I've now decided to sell, they look so inappropriate at my true mid-century dining table) that they began to speak to me about what I do for a living, and how we're "all so similar" (I'm a software designer, said one, I'm a producer, I'm a musician, I'm a writer; We are all cool enough for this furniture!). Below, find some imagery of the experience, including a shot of the hardest working man in mod furniture sales: Sam, the guy who was switching Eiffel bases off some chairs and replacing them with rolling bottoms or wooden legs at the speed of light with one straight-edge screwdriver (god forbid one of us ends up with the shell we want on a substandard base). Oh, and you could also enjoy with your furniture gluttony Saturday an electronica-spinning DJ and free drinks all while being sold on a slew of new lofts just off the 5 freeway in an area that wouldn't even amount to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 15 years ago, it's still so raw and devoid of human character. View on, and decide whether or not we were buying the chairs or the chairs were buying us.