Hillary Clinton, the latest


Had the best time with mom the other night. She had tickets to see Hillary Clinton speak.  I was curious after my work for her in ’08 how this new incarnation of Hillary would seem.  The only downside was the lecture was at the theatre at Universal City Walk.  The entire Universal “city” I consider one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  

Plus the traffic and over priced parking! Oy.  So, Mark drop us off at the Metro station and my mom and I took the subway.  Easy and wasn’t tempted to pay extra for the closer “Woody Woodpecker” parking.  Seriously, that’s a thing.

Hillary was 45 minutes late.  Bad form.  Everyone is a buzz, is she going to run in ’16? Yes, no… Well, I say, she is.  You know why.  Because when she walked out I said out loud, “Oh, game on!”   Gone was the long hair, and puffy face of too much travel as Secretary of State and back was a cute short hair do and a fab pant suit. Almost Tiffany blue.   I do NOT diminish Ms. Hillary by noting her look.  Women can send signals about what is going on with them by their look.  For instance I’m usually in the “I got this schmatta from Target, kind of cute, but not great because everything I have gets dirty and I rarely need to look professional these days.”  That’s my signal.

Her presentation was NOT Prez ready.  It was more about international affairs, a tad C-span.( There was a lady snoring near me, but she apologized later that she has sleep apnea.)  When I was following her around in ’08 her delivery was very different.  But, you know this has been her life for the last 4 years.  She is CLEARLY showing her law and order, hawk  side.  She is pissed at Edward Snowden.  ( Frankly I haven’t made up my mind about all aspects of this situation, though my knee jerk reaction is to stick up for the outsider, troublemaker)

I worry that if Chris Christie’s lap band thing works his charisma might trump her experience. Which would be annoying as that’s what happened last time.  But, with a bit more rest I think she can get the ’08 fire back. Yes, I do think if Chris Christie stays super fat he can’t make run, or a walk, or a saunter.

In the Q and A that followed ( not T and A, now that would have been sexist) Benghazi was talked about at length.  I had to lean in to get it.  I was interested, but since it started late I was starting to think, “are the trains going to stop running?  Can we get to the W hotel in time for a late snack?”  How to sum up the response?  In a nutshell, it wasn’t an embassy, some other name they gave it.  There was CIA there to protect and the local militia who was supposed to help didn’t.

It was a big crowd and they all want her to run.  Though lots were running out early because it was a school night and I did mention the AWFUL traffic in the parking lot around Universal right?

Our train was delayed to due track maintenance so our plan didn’t seem as brilliant later.  But, we did get to the W in time to share a kale salad and chicken with two glasses of white wine in the bar lobby.

good times

Mom and I didn’t look like the rest of the hip youngins who were out.  A bunch of people were dressed in white clothes to go to a club there.  As we left in a cab I pointed out to lumpy girls in tight white dresses.

Me: “What are they thinking?”

Mom: “Maybe they don’t have a mirror.”

Me: ” In the ’50’s did you ever see women dressed in clothes like that?”

Mom:”back then we didn’t have these stretchy fabrics.” pause “We also didn’t have so many fat people.”

Me: ” Is that partly because speed pills were ready available?”

Mom: “Partly.  Also, we had big skirts and those..”

Me:  “Are more flattering”

If those lumpy lasses had been a pant suit, yes, I would have thought differently about them.


A tribute: to a stranger who helped raise me

Harry Lewis died last week and I want to note it.  He created a successful string of restaurants called Hamburger Hamlet in Los Angeles. I wrote about the closing of the final Hamlet a while back.  I wanted to note his passing because without knowing it he helped raise me.  

Growing up in LA Hamburger Hamlet, or “Hamlets”, as we called them for short, loomed large. They were a great medium restaurant.  Not fast food, but not fancy.  You could dress casual, or a great to place to go after you’d been to a movie.  I am a child of the ’70’s.  The political aware, ERA T-shirt wearing kids, mom wearing Dr Scholls with her long straight hair, dad with side burns with big lapels. When I was 8 my mom started her business.  An alternative school.   She was busy and my dad was not Mr. Co-parent.  Domestic duties still fell on to my mother totally.

It was around this time that my mom announced she was not cooking anymore. Once in a while?  No, Thanksgiving was pretty much it.  She meant it. She had her own health food, but if I didn’t want salt less turkey soup,( and who does?) lentils, rice cakes  we were on our own.   My sisters and I would cobble something together.  Our go toos: Fettucine Alfredo, fried Chicken, quiche makes me wonder why we weren’t obese.  
The other way I ate was when my sister Carole got her drivers license my mom would hand her $20 and say “Take Daphne to the Hamlet”.  We would sit in the red vinyl booths on National Blvd, or Westwood or for the fancy Hamlet on Sunset Blvd where it was usual to see Dean Martin at the bar. There were many things we loved on the menu:  the French Onion soup, “Those Potatoes” , which was hash browns with sour cream ( what’s NOT to like about that!).  But, the dish that really took root in my heart, mind and soul was the #11 hamburger.  This burger had crisp bacon, and Russian dressing.  The ratio of meat to bread, to yummy extras was all perfect.  

Harry Lewis started out as an actor.

young Harry Lewis with Claire Trevor in "Key Largo". "Let me go, Claire, I got a burger to make!"

He had a vision of an upscale hamburger place that was still easy, accesible. He and his wife Marilyn sold the collection of restaurants in the ’80’s for $30 million and it was never the same.

Cut to 2000, I was guest on a show in SF and waiting in the green room with me was Marilyn and her son, who was running their remaining restaurant.  She was delightful and gave me her memoir which I read dreaming of a #11.  It had great stories like Sammy Davis Jr. and Jeff Chandler filling in for the Lewis’s so they could elope.

My other mother

Years later I’m very pregnant with Vivien and my doctor was in Westwood near Hamlet Gardens.  One of the few places they still ran.  You know how as the pregnancy wears on the doctors visits become more frequent.  Mark often came with me.  Since I was pregnant I was alway hungry.  Mark knew not to come between a snarling pregnant woman and her appetite so he always let me pick.  More often than not I’d say “Hamlet Gardens”.  Was it as good as the old Hamlet, no.  Partly because it seemed more fancy, ladies who lunch.  Even though I was a lady lunching I longed for the straight ahead wonder that was red vinyl and perfectly proportioned cooked meat.  Nevertheless, during this pregnancy I had little interest in spice, veggies, off beat.  I wanted WHAT I KNEW and hearty.

The Hamlet Garden’s had a hamburger, but not the #11.  I would ask the waiter if they could make it.  They would say, “Let me check.  Sometimes some of the old timers are in the kitchen and they can make it for you.”  One day I noticed that Harry Lewis was there.

he was older than this, but same twinkle in the eye

He was still a handsome man, lined, grey, but distinguished and well dressed.  He was looking over the dining room still very interested in the running of his business and that people were being taken care of.  We caught eyes and smiled.  He said,

“Did I hear you ask for a #11?” said the man who helped raise me, but I had never met. Did I!   So I gushed about how I grew up in the Hamlet’s  and how much I loved them and my baby ( gesturing to large belly) NEEDED a #11 to insure her strength and vitality.  Well, Mr. Lewis was charmed and charming and I GOT MY #11.  I got quite a few during my last trimester.  When he walked away from our table I sat back relieved.  “Mark, our baby is going to be ok.”

“Of course she is” Mark said.

“No, now she has been blessed.”  Because in my agnostic, alternative, always searching for our next meal upbringing the creator of the Hamlet was  the equivalent of a patron saint and he had just laid on hands.( so to speak)

It worked. Look at Vivien! She was a big, healthy baby.

built by love and #11's

I know what it is like to be the loyal customer who misses their favorite restaurant and to be part of the favorite restaurant who closes and misses its loyal customers.  It is a strangely superficial, yet enduring relationship.

My gratitude to Harry and Marilyn Lewis and their restaurants.  Without them I might have starved.




NO Camp Camp

Summer is here and I have my children in a different camp every week!  Well, not really. I was recently accused of “allowing my children to play unsupervised in the backyard.”  Call me guilty!  They have a childhood.

I haven’t signed them up for stuff all summer.  Why?

1) I want to spend time with them

2)  I don’t have full time job so I don’t need to

3) they need to play

4)  I don’t want to have to be somewhere every morning when I do that 9 months out fo the year

5) They need to play  I’m not the first to say this may experts do.

But, just so you can see what I’m doing to these poor kids and call Children Protective services here is a special report.

Oh, with  a nod to my rabid anti circumcision stance.

Summer planning with a rising 3rd grader… harder than it should be…

I love summer!  I love not racing to school.  I love not saying “have you done your homework”, not packing lunch every day and dodging the dog pooh that lines the walkway near my daughter’s school.

I love getting to see my kids more.  Vivien consented to sit for a brief interview.  It’s been a while.  In journalism we’d call this a “get”.  The one hitch is that Rex insisted on helping with production.  Oh, help he did

Rex Returns

Well, to video.  The schools have stolen my best talent.  But, good news, Summer is upon us.  Vivien is almost out, but my former sidekick  my son is done with his first full year of fulltime preschool and he is ready to make time for his moms silly practice of making online videos.

Really, he couldn’t wait!  Really?


why I am NOT a coolmom

I look like Chesty McChesty here

A cool mom could go to Europe without her kids and be fine.  A cool mom would have some cute little attractive hair cut as she occasionally skyped with her kids while she lost herself in her trip knowing the kids were taken care off. She’d have a cute outfit like Julie Christy in “Darling”, not the same flip flops and ratted up hair all week.

" Hello, are my children alright?"

I had moments, but overall Failed this coolmom test.

Mark and I were in Spain for 8 days.  Long story short.  I love Spain.  It makes America look like a dirty, decaying bag of trash.  I had great food and wine.  I met wonderful people.  I had moments when the pain of being away from kids felt physical.

As I landed at LAX I texted my mom .  “We’ve landed”

“I know”  She wrote.  She had been following me on flight tracker.  “Now, never do this again.”

I promise mom, I won’t.

More on my trip this week.

When Stars Align a guest post by Monique Ruffin

While I’m on my trip I have enlisted some of my favorite women to help me fill this space.  Because of my involvement in the Mayor’s race I have felt more connected to my city and wanted to pick bloggers who also feel that connection.  Today it is Monique Ruffin.  I met Monique at a shoot for Mom.me sometime in ’12 and I was instantly drawn to her.  A charismatic single mom I thought, “she has it”.  She writes for the Huffington Post and is passionate about her dedication to doing good and raising her son who has special needs.             If we were in pre school together I would pull my mat next to hers at nap time.  The more you know of her you too will want to be her friend. 


Last Tuesday, May 21, 2013, Eric Garcetti was elected mayor Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S. It was a hard-fought race for both candidates, and by the end of the campaign, many local news outlets were saying it was too close to predict a winner. In my personal circle, which includes many politically savvy folks, the message was to keep campaigning to the very end in order to ensure a Garcetti victory.


As fate would have it, I was interviewed by Seema Mehta, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, just three days before the election. At the time, I was at the park pushing my six-year-old son on the swing. Sometimes the stars just align, and things happen more fortuitously for you than if you had tried to organize them yourself. I have been a political junky all my life, and I was heavily involved in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. I even wrote a book, titled Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability, hoping to help citizens understand the personal nature of politics and how valuable we each are to the process. And so when Mehta approached me with a tape recorder and asked who I was supporting for mayor, I was ready to talk. What a fabulous opportunity!


I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I have lived and worked in many different areas of the city. I love it here. One of my most favorite things about L.A. is our farmers’ markets. I do most of my shopping at the farmers’ markets because I understand the value of circulating dollars to local farmers and how the practice impacts the community and the environment. And because I have a young son, I care deeply about the welfare of the city’s parks, and of the public schools on which he and I rely. My son has Down syndrome, so when it comes to education, I’m all too aware of the benefits of a well-funded system. Maintaining solid programs that benefit all children will prove to be a mighty effort for mayor-elect Garcetti, as it has been for mayors in the past. It is my belief that this mayor has what it takes, the heart and the wisdom, to make a difference.


The day after Mehta interviewed me, the Times called to ask if they could come and take a photograph of my son and me. I agreed, and the day before the election Zion and I hit the big time, supporting Eric Garcetti for mayor. That morning my phone started ringing early. I thought someone in my family had died, because relatives I usually see or speak with during the holidays or on my birthday were calling me. After learning that the district where I live, Mid-Wilshire, might be the one to determine the next mayor, I wrote a piece supporting Garcetti for the Huffington Postto drum up last-minute support. I also persuaded as many friends and family members as I could to go vote. It was expected that only a small percentage of voters would participate (it turned out to be only 19 percent), so I knew every vote would make a difference. By the end of election day, two of my neighbors acknowledged my efforts as the reason they took themselves to the polls to cast a vote for Garcetti. I just love that.

Eric Garcetti, Monique Ruffin in the Charlie Chaplin room at Campanile July 2012


I’m looking forward to the next four years. I’m going to engaged deeply in local politics and support the issues that matter most for me and my family. I have Daphne Brogdon to thank for this. If she had not invited me to the luncheon hosting a group of about twenty blogging moms and then mayoral candidate Garcetti, I would not have gotten to know him, and I would not have felt as inspired as I was on the day the reporter approached my son and me in the park. Who knows what’s possible when the stars align?

Monique Ruffin can be found at the Huffington Post and at Moms Can Change the World.  

Shtupper-ware party- guest post by Donna Schwartz Mills

While I’m on my trip I have enlisted some of my favorite women to help me fill this space.  Because of my involvement in the Mayor’s race I have felt more connected to my city and wanted to pick bloggers who also feel that connection. This blogger is Socal Mom Donna Schwartz Mills.  She was one of the first bloggers I ever read and enjoyed.  She also came to my Grilled Cheese for Garcetti at Campanile last year.  She is also part of Momocrats.  While Donna is politically involved and did support Garcetti for Mayor this post has NOTHING to do with local politics.  I asked to reprint it here as it cracked me up.  It’s awkward when a friend invites you to a party that you know is an excuse to make some money, but what if what they are selling you would NEVER buy… Take it away Donna.

We’d been talking about having a Girls Night Out for a while, so the Evite from my friend (she asks that I call her “Roxy”) was not a surprise.

The occasion was:


A wild and wicked evening with friends!!! You are invited to bring a friend along- please let me know if you will be doing so! Drinks, Nibbles and entertainment provided. The Love Boutique will be here.


I guess this is the time I have to come out and confess that I am something of a prude. Oh, I was young and single once (in the 1970′s! and ’80′s), so I wasn’t always a Victorian.

And I’d been to one of these parties before: Thirty years ago, while still in college, my younger sister was a rep for one of the first companies selling sex toys and related products via the party plan. My mom volunteered to be her first hostess, and of course, I was invited. It was a command performance.

And it was weird. There was my kid sister, standing in the middle of our living room, passing around dildos and vibrators to my mom and her pals — all of whom were hooting and hollering and giggling over the wares. And over on the other side of the room, I sat with a couple of my friends, feeling creeped out about the whole thing.

“When you’re our age, you’ll understand,” laughed my mother’s friend Stella, who used to push me in my baby carriage. Shudder.

That experience was horrifying. But what’s more horrifying is that I am now 10 years older than my mom and her friends were back then. And I DO understand.

However, this is one area where I prefer to be private. It probably doesn’t help that I’m married to a Brit, who has very definite ideas about what is appropriate and what is not in polite company.

My girlfriends are not the type of people you’d describe as “polite company.” They’re fun. And this event had all the markings of an evening that would be fun…

…for everyone but Monica, the hapless young woman who came to Roxy’s suburban home to sell sex toys to a group of mommys, teachers and Brownie leaders.

Roxy is a terrific hostess. True to her word, there were plenty of yummy “nibbly bits” … and alcohol, which was something of a double-edged sword. I do the same thing when I’m hosting a sales party. Likkering up your guests loosens their purse strings. It also loosens them up in other ways, too.

The party got off to a raucous start when one of Roxy’s friends brought her a novelty store gift she’d purchased especially for the occasion: penis-shaped drinking straws, which were plopped into each of our cocktails, resulting in lots of cell phone snapshots and dirty giggling from the guests.

The phallus motif was carried on by Monica, who handed out pencils w/similarly shaped erasers.

For young Monica, it was all downhill from there, because my friends and I behaved much as my mom’s generation did in 1979. Monica estimated that her presentation would take about 40 minutes. An hour and a half later, she was begging us all to settle down because she wanted to go home.

Some of the merchandise was pretty benign: products you find every day at the supermarket: shaving cream, bubble bath, shower gel. Even some of the more intimate items are advertised routinely on television: like K-Y’s new line of lubricants — which was a hot item at last year’s Johnson & Johnson Camp Baby conference. (Monica tried to make a case for why her company’s products were superior.)

Some of the products were exactly the same as the ones my sister showed back in 1979 (notably, the Kama Sutra flavored powder with feather applicator – the packaging is even the same).

Then we got into “the good stuff’: The “Crystal Wand,” described by Monica as a “tool that penetrates your G-spot” (I dunno – the word “penetrate” sounded a bit inaccurate to me). BenWa balls. The “Vaginal Work Out Egg.” The Magic Sleeve. The Rabbit. The Dolphin. (All I can tell you is that I can never look at these innocent-seeming animals in the same way again.)

Throughout the presentation, Monica peppered us with little quiz questions for points (the one with the most would get a free prize). At the beginning, they were easy: 50 points if you’ve ever taken a bubble bath. 200 points if you ever lit a candle in the bathroom for your bath. 200 points if you ever made love in a body of water.

When we got to the toy part of the presentation, Monica told us to give ourselves 200 points for every toy we owned. This was the end of the quiz for me – I don’t have any.

But another of the guests announced that she collects them. This is the one who brought us the interesting cocktail straws. It turns out that she — and the two co-workers she brought to the party — works behind in the scenes in the porn industry. In fact, all three women once worked in front of the cameras.

Now, I’ve always heard that the San Fernando Valley is the pornography capital of the world, and I’ve been vaguely aware that people I meet through school and kids’ activities might be a part of that — but this was the first time I ever met anyone who was a part of it and talked about it. It turned out that these ladies were a lot more expert about the products than Monica was, and the conversation grew into a lively discussion of the merits of one item over another. These women had informed opinions — which I would listen to, if I was in the market for any of it.

But I’m not. I really studied the order form, trying to figure out what I was willing to drop some money on… and was relieved when Roxy told me she didn’t expect everyone to buy: this was just an opportunity for a Girls Night Out.

It had been fun. And not a bit creepy — aside from the fact that my mom’s friend Stella was right. Now, I understand.

Donna Schwartz Mills blogs at Socalmom.net and Momocrats