Commentary: Parenthood

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Father’s Day Redux: Pickles & Cream

A repost in honor of Father’s Day and the redoubtable Bernard Simon, gone these five years but I feel as if I am talking to him still.  This was published in Lucky Peach #4 and while it is food writing, per se, it comes around to my father soon enough.  Yeah, I back into it.  But Dad, I miss you.   I want to embrace the best of the kitchen. But if DNA is destiny, and genetics holds any sway at all over the human palate, then I have much—probably too much—to overcome. The Simons come from peasant stock, and by that I don’t mean the countryside of Alsace or Tuscany or any other place where cuisine makes the days true and beautiful, where gardens and orchards and farms and village butchers conspire for a cuisine both purposeful and ingeniously simple. We are not the progeny of any agrarian ideal worthy of Impressionist paintings. No, my father’s people were kicked-to-the-ground-by-Cossacks peasants, wandering Pale of Settlement Yids who lived with one or two bags always packed...

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Admired Work Parenthood

Ladies and gentlemen, The Intrinsics: A parental kvell

The young man with the knowing smile above — and trust me, he already knows much more than me about a growing pile of stuff  — is my son, Ethan. He plays piano and keyboards. His professional debut was at Sidney’s Lounge on St. Bernard Avenue in New Orleans, where the estimable Kermit Ruffins, tending bar that night, made him sit and play four songs on the battered upright. He nervously gave up two Fess standards and some Fats Domino. He was fourteen. Somewhere on the internet, if you google Ethan Simon, you’ll find an audition video of him playing bop for admission to an summer jazz camp. He goes to work on Kern’s “All The Things You Are” and Charlie Parker’s “Now Is The Time.” He was seventeen then. He’s now just shy of his twenty-first birthday, and his band, The Intrinsics, of Cambridge, Mass. and whatever parts of greater Boston require the services of a Memphis-style soul outfit, has just dropped its first...

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Admired Work Journalism Memoriam Parenthood

Ted Lippman (1929-2014)

It’s hard to scale the heights of requiem without stumbling into a deep ravine of sentiment and cliche, and I know some will measure what follows against the known place of the old Baltimore Sun in the pantheon of American newspapering. No, we were not a Washington Post of the last late century, with Bradlee’s feet on the desk and Watergate dueling scars adorning a set jawline, or a New York Times for the Middle Atlantic, our paper-of-record certitude enshrining our every effort. We certainly weren’t some rough-and-tumble tabloid squealing about headless bodies in topless bars, or even a Chicago broadsheet or Hearst rag for which Hildy Johnsons might labor with gin on their breath and cigarette burns between their typing fingers. We were pretty staid. Too staid, perhaps, and a little too proud of a noble, grey history. We were often accused by our younger sibling, the Evening Sun, of pretense and pomposity. H. L. Mencken, who we vaguely claimed but who had in fact...

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Parenthood

It’s carnival time

A carnival season memory from the other night: I am walking with my daughter, just shy of four years, from what we know as the Sugar Store toward the Krewe D’Etat parade.  She has mango sorbet on the tip of her nose as she negotiates a fat cone of the stuff.  Three blocks away, the drum tattoo of a high school band gives way to a passing float and the throw-me-something cheers of a crowd. She squints down the block, sees the lighted float cruise through. “We missed that one.” “There’ll be another.  It’s a long parade.” “Okay.” Long pause. “Can everything stay just like it is now?” “What do you mean?” She examines her sorbet cone, then looks directly at me. “Everybody dies.  You’re going to die.  One day I’m going to die.” My breath leaves me.  Try explaining the ultimate tragedy of life to a four year old.  Try doing it without falling back on the tropes and cliches of theology.  Try...

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Parenthood

A rugged individualist punches into the Disney compound.

Three year old daughter acting up in a restaurant this afternoon.  Child extricated before meal arrives.  Time out on the sidewalk bench in front of the bistro.  Three year old pouting, arms crossed. “You know, you can’t be a princess if you don’t use your manners.” “Why I can’t?” “Because princesses are nice to everyone.  Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella…they always use their best manners.” “Well, Daddy, I am a mean, mean princess.” “Princesses are good. How can you be a princess if you are mean?  There’s no such thing.” Three year old thinking hard for a long beat.  Then, softly, wearily, as if sad for me: “Silly, Daddy.  You just don’t know princess things.” Oy. In for a bumpy ride with this one.   Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditEmailPrint

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Parenthood

No man is a hero to his 17-year-old son

So I am vegetating on the sofa with my kid and a Domino’s Pizza ad comes on the tube.  The Domino guys offer up their analysis of the national crisis in cheese-bread quality: “Undercheesing is rampant,” they declare. My son repeats the phrase, mulls it for a second, then: “That should be the name of your blog.” What? “Undercheesing is rampant.”       Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditEmailPrint

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