The Mayor comes to dinner

I can’t even say, “guess who?”

I’m SUPER excited to share that the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti will be joining me this Sunday on Daphne Dishes.  As some of you know we ( more Mark) has known his family for years.  I volunteered a ton on his campaign.  His parents, wife, daughter, all lovely, warm down to earth people.

Gil, Mark, Sukey, Amy, da mayor, me

Gil, Mark, Sukey, Amy, da mayor, me

So when Daphne Dishes got picked up for a second season I thought.. oh, dream guest list!!  When I approached I said I wanted it to be about the incredible diversity of food that is available in LA and how it inspires me in the kitchen.  Well, they got that pitch, The Garcetti’s are big booster of LA’s food scene, high brow and everything in between.  It was VERY hard to decide what to make. Not just because I had to make the Mayor a great meal, but because LA has So Many influencers it’s hard to narrow down for a 22 minutes.. or whatever it is …show.

When I was working on Eric’s campaign was when this show was being talked about, developed, slowly, slowly.  I would periodically update him on it and he was always excited to hear about it. I  clearly remember one day I was sitting in his kitchen calling voters and he had come home from an event.  Amy was calling from the living room, many volunteers strewn around the place and I popped my head up and said, “Eric, Food Network says they are going to do a pilot with me.”  He high fived me and wanted to hear more.  Well, cut to second season and he and his family remember their friend.  I really appreciate the support and since he is a very busy guy we said whenever you can fit us in we will make it happen.  It ended up being at 8:30am in the morning. But, you know what it worked!  We all enjoyed the meal and Amy and I are making plans for them to come over again when they have more time and I’ll make them the same meal, but without the camera’s.

He and his parents are from LA, so they all have memories of their favorite foods from growing up here.  Gil talked about going to Grand Central Market with mom when he was a little boy. Of course, that’s where Mark’s Bombo is now.  That’s where I  shopped for the food to make a great LA centric meal for LA’s number one fan.  desert for garcetti

 

Watch the show and tell me what your faves are.  I concluded the meal with a Very Berry LA Tart!

 

renewal

One of the things I love about America in general, and even more so the promise of the West is that one can remake themselves.  That it matters less out here in California than in older societies where you born, you are less bound to tradition. Still, we have done some AWFUL non progressive things out West.  Japanese internment camps jump to mind as I’m reading a great book on the subject.  Whether it be with education, career, or avocation we can change ourselves.  Now, with Caitlyn Jenner,caitlyn jenner gender change might seem more possible to people.  It’s a radical leap.  I will not pretend to always feel comfortable when I see a trans guy or girl.  Sometimes it’s nothing, sometimes amusing, sometimes upsetting.  Especially when it’s a hooker in Hollywood and I am glimpsing a bit of a downtrodden life.

I do admire Bruce Jenner’s change because I think it’s hard to really change yourself.. let alone your gender.  I look and dress an awful lot like I did 30 years ago.  My eyebrows are plucked, but I still wear leggings.  A friend at my wedding said my dress reminded her of my prom dress.  Others change more drastically.  Some people change their name. My mom changed her first name.  Why not?  No one asks us what name we want.

Biology does not define family.  I feel that keenly since losing my brother, of non bio origin.  Some have said, ‘Oh, but he wasn’t your REAL brother.”  (teeth grind)

So, let’s do this.. let’s let everyone define themselves for themselves.  Names, occupation loved ones, and I guess identity.  It’s a stretch. It’s not always easy to go along with, but what the hell?  Let’s humor each other.  That’s what friends do.

The last call I got from Jeff was when he was concerned about a friend of ours whose adult child was transitioning.  It was a surprise as we had known the person since childhood, but he wanted to know the well being of our long time friend, the mom.  Even for liberally minded, it’s a transition for the family and friends as well.

“Is she okay?”  He wanted to know.  Not knowing what deep torment he was in at the time that would cause him to take his own life 6 weeks later. I so wish he had felt he could have come back home and start anew.  He didn’t have to be a success, that he could be poor and we would figure it out.  He had an idea of what he wanted to be and wasn’t getting there.  How great to be able to say, “I’m going to not only change the way you see me, but how I see myself.”  After someone you love takes their life someone else you know being trans gender starts to feel like “Please pass the potato salad.” Not that important.

I know a lot of people are going to make fun of Caitlyn Jenner.  Lots of Bruce Jenner jokes.  I know trans kid will still be made fun of.  But, it would be better to be kind.  If they want to dress up and blow a bugle and call themselves Teddy

Arsenic and old lace

Arsenic and Old Lace

Why not salute?

Beside, Bruce was a handsome man and Caitlyn is a nice looking woman.  Bully for her.

They have the cleanest streets

I now understand the moral isolation of the rich.  For part of Spring Break  got to spend a week on Balboa Island off of Newport Beach.  It’s so clean and delightful my sister asked if we were in “The Truman Show”.  I was lucky to the live auctioneer at our school fundraiser last year who no one could hear.  I also had done research on the items and knew they had low balled the value of this charming house which was up for auction for a week of Spring Break.  So as the bidding progressed Slowly, I jumped in with my bid, no one countered and it was Sold!  To me.kids on balboa island

Mark is working so hard he was not able to come down for a minute.  But, he is so dear as I came in from a break of paddle boarding I phoned him and said, Gosh I was so much a part of the development of Bombo, but now that it’s open you are working non stop and I’m wondering if tonight I should make a Gin and Tonic with lots of lime or a Manhattan with rye or bourbon?

He said, “No, don’t feel bad.  You are taking care of Vivien and Rex.”  So wonderful that my husband really understands a family partnership.  Now, where were those kids??mark peel's bombo

Oh, right, they were not missing the grit of their Hollywood environs, they were having the time of their lives.  Sometimes their cousins were there, sometimes some friends. action kids

The first few nights my mom was with us which was great.  Perfect multi generational vacay spot.  You can scamper, read multi generational travelor rent a boat!

Cruising cousins

Cruising cousins

One night it was just us so we went to the movie theater at Fashion Island nearby.  I was once told the average income around there is $750k a year.  My ticket was $22.  I almost fell out of my ballet flats.

“No way” I wailed.  “we are not going.”  But, Vivien begged and we were there, and it was vacation.  I relented.  “Okay, but we are never coming here again.”  My rant was abated when we walked into the lobby and it looked like a  Four Seasons, or at least 3.  A handsome young man stood behind a counter asking me if I wanted to purchase a glass of wine or beer on tap.  The price of my ticket faded from my mind when he said, “if you would like a second glass during the movie I can bring you that.” Wouldn’t you know it an hour later he did!  Later Rex asked how I liked “Home”.  I thought, gee, I don’t know, seemed more enjoyable than all those other animated movies I sit through with you guys, but I had two glass of nice California white, so my judgement is impaired.  “It was pretty.” I said.

Most of the week we barely drove.  I’m so sick of driving.  I am obssessed with my pediometer app. I was cracking 10 thousand steps no problem as we walked to the ferry, to the paddle boats, to a Balboa ice cream bar, to rent a motor boat.  Water, views, breezes everywhere.  Where were the homeless?  They must ship them up to LA.  I couldn’t figure it out.  In our sister school there was an encampment.. tents, flooring materials, stench, but here, there isn’t so much as a gum stain on the street. ( sidebar, I finally got to the right people in the city and the trees were trimmed and we got the encampment moved).

It’s easy to feel like the problems of the world are far away.  Or at least in Santa Ana.  I do prefer paddle boarding over driving, but hey, that’s what vacations are for, right? But, it seems like it’s always vacation down here in the OC.  Is it wrong to enjoy living like this?  I’ve always thought it was, but now not sure.  Daphne and children

Let’s try something new…

So, haven’t posted lately because Mark and I are consumed with opening a NEW eatery.  It’s the first time he has done a fast casual concept.  I give you a news links HERE  Please like it on FB or instagram.

He has been working VERY hard.  Excited for it, but already wondering how this will impact our lives!  I’m very proud of my sweetie.  I helped get things in line the last year and half, but now it’s all him and he takes it very seriously.

If you are in LA, check it out!

trying out the fried chicken.  They like it

trying out the fried chicken. They like it

bittersweet recipe

It’s very exciting these few Sundays now.. where I watch my show.. where I get tweets from people I don’t know saying they like the show.  I get emails from distance cousins who I have heard not from in years that they are loving seeing my show.  I also loved in the most recent episode bringing in some of our friends to be on the show.  I also thought that overall of all the Daphne Dishes, this one was the best.  It held together. I loved making the food, loved my cocktail.   It’s a light, fun show… I hope… with some information. However, the making of it was more fraught than is seen.

One clue to that can be seen at the end of this show..”In Memory of Jeff Wannberg.”handsom

I have made reference to there being a big loss that shadowed the filming of the show.  The night before we started shooting my brother killed himself.  Jeff was not my blood brother, but a brother he was.  We came into each others life at about 2 or 3, start of pre school.  I got kicked out because my mom was the teacher and the school thought it better if she didn’t teach her own kid.  But, Jeff stayed.  It’s hard to describe to people who didn’t know us in childhood, teen years, 20’s, but each year he became more and more part of us, and visa versa.  Our homes were a few doors away and he was the only kid in his house.

4th of July in Culver City in the '70's. Dad, Cec, Jeff, me

4th of July in Culver City in the ’70’s. Dad, Cec, Jeff, me

We needed a brother, he needed us.  We went to the same progressive school for a while, so we had short hand for our unconventional childhood.  “We joined a cult” Jeff said just a couple of years ago in his characteristically dry humor.  In our teen years organically we began to call him brother, he called us sisters.  It annoyed us to no end if someone said, “but you aren’t REALLY siblings.”  We responded with annoyance or cut them out.  As he once said, “I’m not going to say, they are my really, really, really, really good friends.  That’s not right.”  It wasn’t.  We were far more ingrained than that.

I cannot sum up our relationship or Jeff in a blog post and it wouldn’t do him justice our lives together. But, since September 9th everything has been…different. He was in my sister’s weddings.

Happy Day

Happy Day

I officiated at his US wedding.  I was his best man at his Australian nuptials ( where is wife is from). We are use to him being here for family events.  It was hard having him in Australia the last several years, but he wanted to come home.  We wanted him to come.  It was just a matter of time before he did.

He was always with us at Thanksgiving. We started playing football at Thanksgiving because of Jeff.

Thanksgiving. Jeff behind, brother in law Kevin next to my mom.  I'm the one with the mullet next to my dad

Thanksgiving. Jeff behind, brother in law Kevin next to my mom. I’m the one with the mullet next to my dad

He often made a turkey.  Jeff loved to cook.  He loved French food and classic American food.  He opened his own American steak house in Australia.     I, like all those who love him, are left bewildered and bereft.  In my case I’m puffy and bewildered as I’ve put on some big grief pounds.

He was so smart, quick witted, a brain like no other.  Even while he was living far away I kept up with him with skype, phone calls, email, social media. But, it’s no subtitute for being there.  When I moved back to LA in 2000 I took an apartment that was less than a mile from him.  When I decided to do my solo shows he was the only one I wanted to direct me.  The only one I trusted.  He was a photographer, a post production producer, an app producer, dog lover, bon vivivant.  He was and is someone very special.

love

love

I didn’t know if I could get through the filming, as I mentioned before Food Network kindly offered to postpone the shoot, but I know these opportunities might not come again and I know how hard Jeff hustled to get projects that he wanted off the ground.  His wife said, go for it.  That shot at the end of the show  (“Eat up Sports fans”) When I catch the ball from Vivien was the only time my face was onscreen that first day. I can see the puff and the pain in my face. Bewilderment.  People who are also survivors of suicide know the bewilderment.  The shock.  The first few days I would wake up early before the crew arrived.  Make coffee, talk to Jeff, “Why, why?  How could you leave us?”  I would lie down on the floor and cry.  Then I would get into hair and make up and when the producer said, “Sparkle in the eye”  I turned it on.  Everyone I worked with was very patient and kind with me.

“What do you need?”  a Food Network executive said that first day.

“Ask no one to bring it up.  I will come un done.”  She did and they didn’t.

Vivien was with me the first few days.  She would stand by the cameras before we started, give me a smile and a thumbs up.  “You can do it mommy.”  It would fuel me.  I was torn up by grief, survival guilt, and guilty that I had a big project going on when he was having a hard time making his opportunities come to fruition.  When Vivien wasn’t there I would look at her pictures on the fridge and then turn around and cook for camera.  Like so many moments in my life my kids are joy gas.  I’d be a broken down jalopy without them.

my kids there for me on a shoot day... before my grief weight set in

my kids there for me on a shoot day… before my grief weight set in

When we had a day off I really collapsed.  That’s when I realized how much the show was good for me.  I loved the absorption of work.  The first few days I was trying to contact everyone who needed to know about Jeff. I had a great need to speak to people who knew us when we were younger, before something went wrong, something went sideways.  But, then I switched and I couldn’t speak about it.  If I did I wouldn’t be able to work.  I clicked over and while the camera was on, or even with the crew I started to have fun.  Jokes were coming more easily.  So, for the Game Day show it was later in the process ( except for the football scene) and I was feeling better.  When Trish showed up, who is truly one of my best friends and who knew Jeff, I could let my guard down a little.  When I give her the drink and we toast it’s pregnant with meaning.  She knew how special he was and how deep our connection was and how I was hurting.

After the shoot we had his memorial, his celebration of life.. what is the right thing to call it?  We decided on JeffCon’14.

While we were shooting I asked if he could have a memorial credit.  It has to go through some channels.  Then a few weeks ago I got an email.  Yes, his name would be there.  I was glad, but I got back down on the floor and cried.in memory of jeff wannberg

Like anyone who has lost someone you don’t want your loved one to become “the dead guy” and with suicide you don’t want their method of departure to define them.

Some of Jeff’s friends and I have connected or reconnected like never before.  It’s been a great source of support. Also, I went through an 8 week Survivors of Suicide group.  A lovely group of people.  That helped a lot to sort through the layers of feelings with people who were on the same journey. The sense of failure, rejection, lost.  One friend of Jeff’s was over a couple of months ago and said that I should start posting and talking about the show coming on.  Really?  I was not feeling like celebrating.  Then I remembered what one woman in my group said, “Fake it till you make it.”  So I did start posing about it and talking about it and people were very sweet and excited and that felt good.  I just want Jeff to be here with me.  So by having his picture in the first episode about my mom’s healthy eating and his name in the game one I feel there was a touch.

Of course the way my brain and humor works is so influenced by him he is part of it.

So, it might seem just like a light little food show, but there was a lot going on.

it’s beginning to look NOT like Christmas…

January 14th.. not to bad for taking my tree down right?

When my brother Jeff, was a Lothario in the ’80’s, and he was on the verge of breaking up with yet another girl he had been crazy about for two weeks previous, he famously said (paraphrasing), “Love is like a Christmas tree.  It’s starts out smelling so good.  It’s pretty, it makes you happy to see it sparkling, but then it dries out and becomes a fire hazard.”

That girlfriend was toast.

As I was undressing my tree I thought of the difference from the night we brought it home, the kids so excited to decorate it as I made hot coco, Frank Sinatra carols,  the warmth of our home on on a cool evening.  To this morning, harsh glare of Eastern light coming in the window, applying the anti aging wrinkle cream Santa brought me .  christmas tree and kidsI’m alone in my black sweats,  covered in flocking.

A Flocking Mess

A Flocking Mess

IMG_0746

Cody, smile for the camera

I have to pry the ornaments of the tree because the tree is dying and has curled over the hooks.  Parts of the tree come off and I pull the dead branches off the ornament so I can neatly put them away in my ornament storage ( took me 20 plus years to figure out the importance of that).  “Get off of me you dead tree. I’m done.”

The promise of love, the promise of yuletide glow.  It’s over.  Unstringing the lights it felt like the morning after a one night stand.  Heated, and exciting the night before,  But now my lipstick has been kissed off, I’m tired, look bad and Romeo doesn’t look so hot now in the glare of the sun, and I’m just wondering, “Where is my bra?”

Get your crap and get out of here.

Get your crap and get out of here.

But, hope springs eternal.. we will hop in the sack again next year.

 

 

is it too soon for history?

We are back from a spring break trip to Washington DC.  lady in washington hatIt was great except it snowed the first day, the last day and rained the others.  Wait, there was ONE day we had clear skies. So much for “Spring”.

Viv, sis and I ready for sightseeing.  Is it Spring yet?

Viv, sis and I ready for sightseeing. Is it Spring yet?

Fortunately it was the day we walked on the Mall.  From Arlington Cemetery to the Spy Museum.

map of the dc mallThe trip was meaty.  Lots going on.  Sights of historical significance, Ford’s theatre, great food.  Red Hen was the best dinner of the trip.  Great architecture, show me the brick!.   Kafe Bohem, sigh,  I miss the great breakfasts.   Seeing old friends.

if you are in DC area check out my comic friend Queen Aishah, HIlarious and great person

if you are in DC area check out my comic friend Queen Aishah, HIlarious and great person

Loved not driving most of the time.  Metro, I loves ya.

But, more than once I thought, are my kids ready for this?  Moments where I thought, “I DID THE RIGHT THING”.  When Vivien was transfixed by the Lincoln Memorial and read his speeches carved into the wall. children and lincolnchildren get lincoln When I said, “this is where Martin Luther King gave his ‘I have a dream speech’ and she didn’t run and scowl, but stopped and took a picture there.  children and I have a dreamTouching how many parents are doing the same thing.  After the memorial Vivien was begging for a hot chocolate, “we must keep going.” cried crazy mom.  My sister Cecily, who traveled with us knew better.  “I’ll get you one” as she helped my limping 8 year old to a warm coco.  I walked along the Vietnam memorial overhearing parents say to their kids, “you see it was a time of great unrest…”

What is the right age to take this in?  Or is it in dribs and drabs?  Certainly when I lost Rex in the spy museum ( an over rated for profit venture) I thought, I was wrong to come.  When he ran up the down escalator in the Metro I thought “too young”.  But, if I wait till he is ready for knowledge and travel Vivien will be a jaded teen lost to me.

Certainly a highlight was visiting the White House.  Had to pull some strings to get in their and even so there was a long, cold wait to get in. visiting the white house Not like the ’90’s where I had a friend who work in the White House and I was waved in more than once with a only a look at my license.  At one point Rex started to go under the velvet rope, but a secret service man scolded him and he shrank back.  One of the many times I was fine with a stranger reprimanding my son.  “Go for it, I need the help.”

DC , like many American cities of late, has improved.  We we rented  a home in an area some friends were worried about.  A mixed neighborhood that had seen riots/uprisings in the ’60’s, crack in the 80’s. But, now the historical structures of Ledroit Park can shine and it’s lovely.  It’s near Howard University and we had occasion to visit their ER for a minor problem and they were great.  It was far nicer than any ER around LA. I like feeling like I live in a place when I visit.  I walked thru the snow to a grocery store.  I would stay there again for sure.

One day we rented a car and went to Mt. Vernon.

Cecily is fun to travel with

Cecily is fun to travel with

A place I remembered from visiting with my dad when I was 9.  Since then they have added a memorial to the slaves that toiled there.  They have also added a video presentation with of all people Pat Sajak telling visitors what to see at George Washington’s home. Was Vanna not avail?pat sajak mt vernon “Don’t forget to see the slave quarters and where they stored the tropical plants.”  My sister leaned in, “because there is a real moral equivalency.”   When the five minute Wheel of Washington was done Rex said,

“He was nice.  But, he seems like a reporter.”  Close Rex.  Yes, hundreds of years of slavery is not Pat Sajak’s fault.  But, I was getting irate at the founding fathers.  Um, what was that about independence, rights of man?

It was raining so I didn’t make it to the slave quarters.  Rex’s shoes and pants were soaked in rain and mud.  He was gleefull.  We stood before George Washington’s old tomb and he said, “mommy, I got to go pee.”

soaked

soaked

“Rex, wait.”

“I can’t”. Pause.   Then he ran off splashing more in the mud. Well, maybe it was fitting.

Fortunately, Walmart is close and I ran in and got him a whole new outfit as we were headed to meet friends for a nice dinner.

One key note about air travel with kids, if they don’t have individual screens on the plane, forget it.  We didn’t have them going, but did coming back and it made a huge difference. I wish we could make our reservations based on this.  I can handle the crap food, but kid climbing on me is tougher.  Course one consequence was I watched “12 years a slave” on the plane.  Woof.  Brutal.  When we got home I had insomnia and stayed up reading slave memoirs online.  The sexual exploitation alone makes me marvel that black people didn’t rise up and kill all white people.  Jefferson, sneer.  He allowed his own children to be enslaved.  They got to be freed when he died, that’s the bone he threw them.

When I went to Europe I ruminated about the holocaust.  I know, I could walk any area near me and think of the Native Americans killed and run off their land.  Sadly, man’s humanity to man is too clear.

So, in the end it is dribs and drabs for my kids and for me.  You know history, but at different moments facts and sensory collide to make it more real.

Flu flew in

Like a dumbass I didn’t get a flu shot.  Earlier this week I felt it coming on. Came on fast.  I got in the car to go to a home improvement store and by the time I was asking for vinyl mesh (so my dog doesn’t crawl out of our gate) I felt sick.  Aches, thick head, chills, cough, etc.  It’s been years since I had it, but I remember.  It truly sucks.  Fortunatly, I knew to call my GP and left a message asking her to call in a prescription for Tami Flu.  If she had made me truck cross town to be examined by her, honestly, I don’t think I could have done it.  She did not ( cancel plans to change doctor).  Mark picked it up for me and by the next day I felt a wee bit better.

how I feel and I feel I look

how I feel and I feel I look

The other issue was Rex.  He is getting his annual in a couple of weeks which will include the flu mist.  I called his doctor and got an appointment for him first thing in the morning for the flu vaccine.

“I want to cuddle with you mommy.”

keep this kid healthy

must keep this cutie healthy

” Baby, I want to cuddle with you too, but until you get your vaccine you need to stay away from mommy. Here, you can play with my Ipad. Wash your hands a lot”

I’m still a bit sloggy, aching, stupid in the head.  But, Tami Flu arrested the symptoms considerably.  I don’t care that even with insurance it cost $70.  It’s worth it.  Thank you modern medicine.

Now, if you haven’t already get your flu shot!

Recent nostalgia

I’m looking at pictures of my kids when they were younger like they just got married.  Rex is near 5, Vivien 8 and my stepson is 20. Okay, with him, big difference, but it’s not like Rex still doesn’t need an overnight diaper.  Yet, I’m gazing at their little pictures.

Rex’s sausage legs and curlsfamily trips

Vivien pre braces

IMG_0108

Or her round face babyness.cute baby

Not sure why it’s hit me, this looking backward.  I was in Inglewood this morning for a vet appointment and it hit me, “Aren’t I near Grandma’s old house?”  My grandma died when I was in high school.  I liked her very much and have fond memories of her ground floor apartment next to an Astro burger.  No, not like having Rose Kennedy as your grandma, but we always had a great time.  She would make us penny hot dogs.  Hot dogs, cut up in slices.  She always had a pot of Irish stew on the stove.  A big stack of old computer paper that we could color on on the unused side.

Inglewood in the 1970's

Inglewood in the 1970’s

I looked up Astroburger.  It is still there.  So was the building with the apartments that my Grandma Maxwell lived in. a house in inglewood The neighborhood was not great 30 years ago, it looks worse now.  There is a big fence in front of her building.  No plants.  But, otherwise, pretty much the same.  I wish we had taken pictures of our time there.  I only have the images in my head to go on.

You know when you get off the freeway and you see a little house or apartment, or maybe it’s next to an auto part part store, or next to Astroburger and you think, jeez, that sucks to live there.  Glad I don’t live there.  Well, people are living full lives in those non pinterest post worthy abodes.  Kind words, good smells, and lots of crayons.  Sausage legs and round faces.