stop me before I volunteer, again

 

I think I have a problem.

I can’t stop volunteering.

A few months ago I was elected head of my neighborhood association.  10 Saturdays out of the year I run the meetings, bring the refreshments and in general voice the concerns of our community to the city.  So far I threw a block party, longwood block partyhelped get some trees planted, advocated for some issues with our local councilmanherb wesson with constituents , and got a website up.

The jewel in my unpaid work history was my mayoral appointment to the Central Area Planning Committee.  Roughly twice a month I am one vote on planning issues that come before us.  I get to go to city hall and I have a laminated pass.  Never has anyone felt so excited to be accepted as a civil servant. Maybe because of all the years of freelancing, I like going to an important building with a clip on badge and working.. albeit with no salary.commissioner Brogdon

I’m also on a few committee’s for my daughter’s school. ( charter, underfunded).  So I take some interest in the school board races.  There are few that do.  It’s pretty un sexy, but in LA we have a mammoth school district and unlike other cities the mayor and the council have no control over them.  So, it’s a whole other empire.  Charter’s, while somewhat apart from regular public schools, still must be granted their charter through the school district.  So, the LA school board is “our” school board as well.   Teacher’s unions tend to not like charters because the teacher’s are outside of the union.  Charter’s are suspicious of teacher’s unions and afraid they will try to shut them down.

My take on all this is that parent’s are discerning consumers of education.  So, charter’s magnets, traditional, private they will be existing with each other. But, we need to put our best foot forward. There are people in our area who would be interested in going to the local public school, but they don’t offer tours.  “Why?’  is what we have heard more than once when calling the school…that sound you here is the interested parent filling out an application for a charter lottery. No surprise, it’s under enrolled.  A mile away a traditional public school does do tours and shows itself well. That school is humming along.

So,  heard some charter parents were rally around one candidate in a special election to be held August 12th.  Good lord, the only thing lamer than having a special election in the dog days of summer would be starting school that day.  OH, that is what LA unified is doing.   I spoke to some of my political mentors about one candidate, George McKenna.  He is a retired teacher and administrator.  Years ago they made a “Stand and Deliver” type movie about his work turning around a tough school starring Denzel Washington.  A friend set up a lunch for us to meet and I went, even though he looks nothing like Denzel.  While not a movie star, I found a charming Southern man who was very thoughtful and earnest about helping children.  Before I could order an ice tea he was talking about trying to get mental health services to students in LA schools who come from troubled places.  It was one of the concerns that reminded me of how vast the LA school system is. By the way since I was a kid I have thought the district should be broken up, but fat chance of that happening.   But, what can happen is for the grip to be loosened a bit on school so that a school can cater to their particular community.  This was something Mckenna and I agreed on. Well, we agreed on quite a bit.  From the good deviled egg appetizer to how a lousy principal can sink a school.

I told him, look the charter’s are scared of you.  He didn’t know why.  “I’ve gone on record as saying if a local school is working, charters wouldn’t exist”.  He was surprised the Teacher’s union backed him because of this.  He believes in traditional, charters, magnets, whatever works for children, not one ideology. I was touched by his sincerity and persuaded by his intellect and experience. He is being outspent. “Can Denzel give you some money?”

“I don’t know how to get to him.” he said.

So, before my after lunch espresso arrived I volunteered AGAIN.

“George, maybe I can throw you an event.” My dear husband was eager to hear about my lunch.  Later we attended a political meeting that a neighbor of ours had invited us too.  On the way out he met George.  The candidate was walking by himself having just thanked the group we were attending for their support and was on to the next.

“You need to go to 5 events a day.” Mark said earnestly.

“I wish it was only 5.” George said in his honey dripping accent.

We walked away and Mark said, “Let’s do grilled cheese.”  He was totally on board.  We must have done at least 3 grilled cheese events for Garcetti.  Now that the famous Thursday grilled cheese nights at Campanile are gone for good, it might be a bit of a draw for folks.  Former council members Nate Holden and Jan Perry who are my friends are also hosting.george mckenna fundraiser

The story has been picked up by a local online publication.  Come by if you care about educating the young, or just want to eat.  Don’t make my volunteering in vain!

 

 

 

Who says I don’t cook?

mark peel and daphne brogdon cook

we had fun and worked off each other well

A few weeks back Mark and I were guest on Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family”.  It’s a great domestic oriented morning show.  No trash stories, helpful and fun.  Wish it was on my cable carrier.  Anyway,  We did a Chicken Thigh Throwdown. Everyone thinks Mark is nightly making me great meals. My standard line was, “sure, if I went into his restaurant.” But, at home I do most of the cooking and since we don’t have any restaurants anymore and my work has been…meek.. the last couple of years I’ve been cooking more than ever.

Mark getting his mic...I hope

Mark getting his mic…I hope

IMG_0165

 The idea was Mark would do the “restaurant” or fancy version of chicken thighs and I would do the easy, your family will eat version.

mark peel and daphne brogdon cookAs someone who made her living for years as a TV host I really appreciate a good host.  Christina Ferrare and Mark Steines are great and improvising and brought out the best in us.  It was the first time Mark and I have cooked together out of our home and it was a lot of fun.  In case you want to try either dish, here are the recipes.  Enjoy. http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/homeandfamily/recipe/markpeeldaphnebrogdonchickenthighthrowdown

…and I played the wife

Mark was asked to be on a chef competition show.  He was a bit wary as Top Chef Masters was NOT his favorite experience, but his manager ( me) said he should do it.  It’s “Knifefight” on Esquire channel. Use to be G4 channel and before that I am sure it was two other channels before that.  He had been a judge on an episode on the last season with Exec. Producer Drew Barrymore next to him and had a good time.  (“She took my card!” Um she is never going to call you dude.  She didn’t)

Mark clapping behind his new BFF

Mark clapping behind his new BFF

“Knife Fight” is more irreverent than Top Chef with it’s super serious, jib shots of chefs waiting to be judged with the dum, dum, dum music and the “Go pack your knifes” blow off.  It’s demoralizing.

this sucks

this sucks

The producer of “Knife Fight” asked who Mark wanted to compete against and we both said, “Sal Marino”.  He is our friend and a great chef, unsung really.  Owns Il Grano. They would have fun.  It’s shot at Gorbals where the chef/owner/ Ilan Hall is the host.  He is a nice guy.  Also, it’s a shorter shoot than Top Chef which drags on and on with them plying the chefs with cheap booze in the hopes of some “Big Brother” meltdown and for no pay.  All unscripted exploits the hell out of people in general.

So, I trucked down to watch the shoot and then ended up being part of it.  That is if they show my back shucking peas.  It was fun to see both Sal and Mark cook.  They had one hour to cook with the surprise ingredients.  Great to see them both in action.  I can’t say what they made ( or Drew Barrymore will come and beat me)  and I didn’t get it to eat it, but it looked fab.

Maja, Sal’s wife, was also there.  She is my friend so it was a fun outing.

...they all laughed, except for Josiah in this picture

…they all laughed, except for Josiah in this picture

The chefs had known each other before, but we all became good friends when our daughters were going to pre school and they became friends.

With a judge on the show Chef Josiah Citrin who helms the BEST French restaurant in LA, Melisse

With a judge on the show Chef Josiah Citrin who helms the BEST French restaurant in LA, Melisse

As the shooting went on they were placing Maja and I for reaction shots.  So when it finally airs, think May, you might see my “wife” visage.  In the meantime, it inspired Mark and Sal to finally cook together for real.  This weekend and next Mark is going to jam with him at Sal’s restaurant.  A special menu they collaborated on.  It’s going to be good.   I will play the wife and eater. MORE INFO HERE

happy anniversary Bernie!

Today is the 5th year anniversary of Bernie Madoff’s arrest.  And they said it wouldn’t last!

CNBC called me a few days ago and asked me if I would go on camera and talk about how I am coping as a Madoff victim.  The producer said she had just spoken to someone who said “they had moved on.”  Some people she said “are relunctant to talk about something so painful.”

good gravy, those people look miserable

good gravy, those people look miserable

Me: “That’s cool, I’ll talk, I’ve been coughing up my soul for years.” (cut to montage of my solo shows, stand up, vlogging, after too many drinks at a party)  I was the lead plantiff in a class action suit against Stanley “died before convicted” Chais so I have not been a shrinking violet when it comes to my absconded retirement fund.  I’ve always been ENRAGED.  

As is often the case with these things I don’t love the way it was edited.  First off, none of my funny lines made it in. Like when it came up about Madoff talking from prison and I said,  “I don’t want to hear a thing from that guy.  Unless, it’s hey, Daphne, there is a box of money I kept hidden and here is it’s location.”They didn’t get me choking up, tears in my eyes.

Can I direct this thing?

Also, the other woman who they interviewed talks about getting the money she originally invested.  She must have been a direct investor. We weren’t so we didn’t get anywhere near it.  But, whatever.  Here is another few minutes in the reality show called my life! CLICK HERE  There is an EP of Madoff suckers  victims here.  But, scroll down past his ugly mug to the vid with us.  I’m glad they got the part  about OTHER people, with their own ugly mugs, who have not had to pay the piper. Yet.

The producer said I was good on camera.  I suggested I host a show for CNBC called, “How not to invest.”  She laughed.

Family Road Trip

Okay, so here is magnum opus on my last hurrah of summer.  To some driving around in a mini van for two weeks with two small children might be hellish.  I was in heaven.  Did they listen when I tried to tell them the importance behind Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the storm”?  No, but we bonded in other ways.  Most of it we did as three for the road, but Mark joined us 8 days in.

Being a mom of two littles is easier for me on the open road.  We aren’t chained to our screens.  Away from stressors.  That’s why they call it vacation.  Mountain of laundry

Well, yes, my husband was in the NY Times

the man loves his pressure cooker

I’m back!   I just got back from a great road trip with my kids. Seriously.  I was so unplugged that I wasn’t even able to crow about my the big feature on my dear husband in the Sunday NY Times.  Yes, I was mentioned which was pretty cool as well.

The interview for this story was months ago and it morphed from an online story to being in a the regular paper copy.  They hinged on Mark’s body being beat up after years of cooking.  I don’t love this angle.  I think it’s sort of silly since I know plenty of people his age who had desk jobs are round as a circle and have had knee or hip replacements.  If they really want to gauge what jobs affect people’s bodies they would need to control for family history, diet, etc.  They also got a few things wrong in the article, Rex is 4, but at his age he probably doesn’t mind the bump.

I love that the NY Times wrote about my husband.  He has worked very hard for years and has a lot of accomplishments and glad for them to be recognized.  Along with his sore back.

Mama chat : LA Mayors race

I am a guest on this podcast. Donna Schwartz Mills and Cynematic of Momocrats host.  Since it’s audio this the kind of thing you listen to while you walk or clean up the piles in your house.  Oh, maybe that’s just me.

I’m  extremely partisan, of course, for my friend Eric Garcetti, but I really tried to be as even as I could in this.  Sometimes that meant putting my hand over my mouth so I didn’t blurt out “Oh, come on Eric has a proven track record in his district and he is a super sweet guy!” I could go on…

 

unnamed happy birthday

“is this a significant birthday?” friends ask.

Not in a number sense.  But it was important to make it more joyful than last year when some bad business news arrived on my birthday 2012.  A dark cloud hung over it and stayed, and stayed. I can’t say it better than Eddie Murphy did in this old sketch.  That about sums up my feeling

The clouds have not entirely parted, but as Mark and I have now learned what to do.  Live with the clouds, don’t let them cover you. When the going gets tough, the tough throw a party.  So, Mark threw together a lovely cocktail party at our home. He made the food.  He told me proudly he had used my meatball and savory tart recipe.  I’m flattered.

woken up on my birthday. Perfect!

 We had a bartender.

I bought a new dress.

I drank a couple of Manhattan’s.  My favorite drink.

I’m very lucky to have friends and family show up for me.  Their presence was the present for sure.

 

How did I end up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen? : LA Mayors Race part 2

 Does this campaign make my butt look big? No, because when you canvas you walk! More about one of my latest part-time “jobs”.

That's my kind of mayor!

So, there are several reasons why I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen ( see blog post from a few days ago…) One is there is a grounded quality to him and a clear integrity.  When Campanile announced it was closing Eric wrote to me and Mark .  It was a personal note and I don’t want to share it, but to say it was appreciated.

Another reason…Several weeks ago I spoke to Eric at a another gathering of supporters and or would be supporters.  This was a bunch of people who are in charter schools, like we are. I think it’s the 7th or 8th time I’ve heard him speak,  yet I still enjoy hearing him speak.  I feel that he can lead LA into the next phase with dynamism, intelligence, and imagination.

He and his wife have adopted a baby girl and after speaking to the crowd at this convocation he was rushing out to do the “night duty”, that’s another reason.

Amy Wakeland in my dining room addressing volunteers about how to canvas

Another reason I love the guy is his choice of spouse.  No small aside is his wife Amy Wakeland.  She is a strong, confident, whip smart woman.  They met when they were both Rhodes Scholars .  However, she is also down to earth and will envelope friends in a warm hug.  No job is too small for her, no detail is missed.  One day my sister and I were going out to canvas for Eric and she told us if a voter had more questions get their number and she will call them.  We thought for a second she was kidding.  She was not, and she does.

The other week I hosted a canvassing party at our house.  The carrot was that Mark Peel would be making his famous grilled cheese sandwiches for volunteers.  It’s hard to get people to go knock on strangers doors and ask them to vote for your guy, but the food did it.  We had a good crowd and there was Amy leading the troops with her daughter crawling nearby. Classic strong working mom. She separated the tiny, swallowable toys out of the toy basket I had presented, changes a diaper and then told 30 people how to hit the bricks to get her husband elected with aplomb.  Fired up, I canvassed while my sister Cecily watched my kids.

Now, it’s not all work supporting a candidate.  The other week my friend and I went to a concert Moby gave to raise money for Eric’s campaign.  Jimmy Kimmel hosted. Will Ferrel made a funny video.    Last week I went to a Chefs for Garcetti event.  This time, my husband wasn’t one of them, but lots of other good restaurants participated with tasty dishes, Little Fork, Black Market and wine from Silver Lake Wine. I went stag, but hailed Gil Garcetti down to take a picture with me at their red carpet meets photo booth set up.  Gil is Eric’s father and former District Attorney of LA ( the ’90′s, OJ, yeah him).  Sweet guy, now he is an art photographer.  He has been making cold calls to voters on his sons behalf.  

“Aren’t people surprised that you are calling them?” I asked.

“Sometimes they think it’s a robo call.  One woman asked me to prove it.” He chuckled.  I didn’t ask how, but wondered what he would say to prove he is really Gil Garcetti.  Tell the lady where Eric has a birth mark?

Since I’ve been pounding the pavement for Garcetti for Mayor  I get asked “how can you do this with kids?” Like everything else when you are a parent the answer is two-fold 1) selectively, can’t go to every event and 2) it takes a village.

Direct voter contact is proven to be effective in getting out the vote.  A couple of times Amy invited me and some other mom supporters, to come to her house. She had a sitter there for her daughter so they would watch my kids as well.  Vivien and Rex had a great time hanging out.  I was touched by being so easily welcomed into their home, even if  I was there to help.

One day, a few other supporters were sitting in the front room or kitchen.  I sat at the counter in the kitchen so I could charge my phone while I called potential voters.  Eric was in between events and he was working around us. There is little difference between the “on” side to Eric and the at home eating left overs out of his fridge. “Do you want some he asked?” as I sat at his kitchen counter dialing voters.  A rare time I didn’t take food that was proffered, but I had gassed up before hand.  Whether I speak to him casually as a friend or hear him address a crowd he has a light that attracts people like the proverbial moth.

I heard Eric making his own calls and there was no cynicism as he moved from donor support, or reaching out to a community leader.  A few times I was stymied by an inquiry on the phone.  Sometimes you reach thoughtful people who want  deeper answers to the questions than I can provide.

“Well, Joyce, if you care about the environment you should know Eric was endorsed by the Sierra Club.”  But, she had more detailed question and “did I mention how nice he was to my mother?”  Didn’t seem like it would cut it, though I thought it should.    I put my hand over the phone,

“Eric, can you talk to Joyce, she is an environmentalist.”  He took the phone from me and rattled off a bunch of things he has done.   Nation’s widest-reaching green building ordinance, the nation’s largest local clean water initiative, and legislation leading to the nation’s largest solar rooftop program, etc.   He spent some time with her.  “Can I count on you for support?” he said finally.  “Thank you Joyce.”

When he hung up I said, “you are the closer!”  I said, wait, we gotta take a picture of this.  So we recreated the calling.  THAT is how I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen. 

 When we left he gave Rex and Vivien campaign buttons.

Rex was making a fierce face for canvassing, Viv takes a lighter approach

Sarah of MomsLA asked if I would interview him for a video for their site.  We got a few minutes as he rushed between engagements.  The street sound is not ideal, but here is some of it.  I’m going to try a pass at my own edit later, but Sarah did well to get this together.

Rex told me today that “Eric Garcetti is going to win.”  It was even cuter because we weren’t even talking about the election.  I was pouring chocolate milk.

I really hope Eric Garcetti wins the primary and the run off in May.  I think it would be great for Los Angeles. It’s been great to be part of the campaign and to share with my children what it is like to be involved in local politics like I did when I was growing up.  Well, except for hating some of your neighbors who didn’t support your dad, they can miss that part.

Los Angeles Vote on March 5th Tuesday.  Seriously