Tag Archives: madonna

what i did this summer (part 1)

well hello, readers. it’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

last time we spoke, holly  had just left for a sunday-night-thru-thursday night summer taking care of her gram in western pee-ay. and i was here, at home, making grilled cheese and doing copywriting. which is what i do for a living. copywriting, not grilled cheese. (honestly, making-then-eating grilled cheese for a living doesn’t sound half bad though “my figure” would suffer.)

well, folks, i have news for you. while i mostly worked and missed holly–sleeping with my gemstone mace out of its gemstone case (gasp!) right next to the bed–i did do a few new things this summer.

here’s a sampling of some highlights.


1. cooked a fish.

ok, actually, i cooked half a fish.

this was actually not meant to happen. holly was supposed to cook it, as i, as a rule, don’t cook anything that looks too much like its original source. not very “farm-to-table” PC of me but whatever. you want to picture your food with its family, that’s your business, not mine.

anyway, we bought two rainbow trout fillets a day before holly left one week. but we never cooked them. suddenly i was by myself in the house with two fish fillets in the fridge. i was like, even though i’m really grossed out by the idea of it, i’m going to have to cook this fish bc i’m not going to let it die in vain. plus it was five bucks. and i am nothing if not thrifty.

so i called holly, she was in the car driving back to pee-ay, and i was like, babe. what do i do with this fish? is there a way i can cook it without actually looking at it?

and she was like, babe. you can do this.

so she coached me on how to pan fry the fish. i had my “operators are standing by to take your call” home phone headset on. and the phone was clipped to my jeggings. oh i was a sight to behold, let me tell you.

i tried convincing myself that it wasn’t actually a fish, but there was no denying its fish shape, fish skin, fish flesh, etc. i placed it on the skillet and it sizzled and of course i overcooked it bc i’m scared of food-borne bacteria. then i forced myself to eat it, telling myself this is good fish! you cooked it yourself! good job! see? you don’t need holly here all the time! you can totally do this type of stuff on your own! 

i told the voice in my head to shut the hell up, put my fork down and decided the other half of the trout would have to die in vain bc there was just no way i was going to eat the other half. i almost texted our friend and neighbor dilini to see if she wanted the other half. but who drops off half a raw fish at a friend’s house? i mean, really. plus i wasn’t about to get mugged for the sake of a fish. so it was almost like the fish cosmically gave up (half of) its life to save mine. or something. anyway, next!

2. shot a gun.
ok, it was three guns: two rifles and one handgun. (crap! did i really just write that?) this was in western pee-ay. holly’s twin sister’s in-laws have guns. they also have a lot of property. holly wants me to learn how to shoot a gun, as we live in one of the most dangerous cities in america and..yeah, fill in the blanks. i did not want to do it. however, she wore me down and i knew she was right.

so i went to the local rite-aid, bought ear plugs, then to my sister-in-law’s in-law’s. i promptly froze up and started crying (and shaking) saying babe, i don’t want to do it! they’re loud and i’m scared! i took a deep breath (ok, about 20 deep breaths) and, with holly’s sister’s father-in-law by my side, i pretended like the…tree stump across the way was an intruder and i said in my mind f*ck you motherf*cker! you’re in my house and i’m gonna kill you before you kill me! then i pulled the trigger. then i did it two more times with different guns. then i had enough.

(somehow i feel like my favorite black jeggings from new york and co. with rhinestone flip-flops wasn’t the most sensible choice for this outing but what can you do. you can take the girl outta jersey, but you can’t take the jersey outta the girl…)

then holly convinced me to let her seven-year-old nephew take me on a ride through a wooded trail (oh! it was actually the same wooden trail i got stuck on a couple years ago! the one where i almost gotten eaten by a brown bear? you can read that here, it’s a doozy) on this elaborate four-wheeler. i was like WHAT. and she was like, “he’s a good driver!” then i figured, what in the hell, i just shot three guns, i cooked half a fish last month, i can do this.

so i put my arm around little landon (that’s his name) and said, “please don’t go too fast, ok, honey?” and to his credit, he was indeed a very good driver and he did not go too fast. then he and his four-year-old brother desperately wanted me to jump on a giant trampoline with them. and i did it for like two minutes and then the old jewish lady in me said OY ENOUGH WITH THE BOUNCING YOU’RE IRRITATING MY HIATAL HERNIA. (do you know i actually have one of those? it’s like, the jewish hernia.)

guns. four-wheelers. an excessively large trampoline. it was like a country song. except for it was my actual life and no beer and/or dogs were involved. taylor swift was there, however. no she wasn’t. yes! she was! (no she wasn’t.)

3. took a plane to pittsburgh without xanax
this was a mistake. to be continued.

4. talked to siri
she doesn’t flirt back and i think she’s anti-semitic. to be continued.

5. got a haircut, learned how to use a barrette
YES REALLY. to be continued.

6. gave a quote about the jewish new year to the baltimore sun

7. bought high-tops i’ve wanted since i was, like, four (yes, that means styles from 1983 are back)
then wore those high-tops when i…

to be continued.

9. got a bad cold, gave it to holly
sorry, babe!

10. met jennifer weiner again
my mom “secretly” snacked during her talk and then accidentally called her friend ruth on her new iphone. which she got for $49 at best buy. as she told everyone there.
to be continued.

YES REALLY YES. all TBC (to be continued). come back to find out how i managed a half-hour flight without xanax. it wasn’t pretty. i wish i was kidding.


happy birthday, madonna!

52 today! how about *that*!

we love you today as we have loved you always! (i, perhaps, more than others)

to all my madonna fans, once again i share w/you an essay i wrote years ago: “my life with madonna.”

(enjoy the ittybitty video below; behind-the-scenes of her photoshoot for the big madonna article that ran in the may issue of interview magazine. it’s random but it’s awesome.)

the radio’s about to do it again

lady gaga: her jazz hands can beat up yours.

since i’m basically a gay man, i’m really loving on lady gaga lately. (add to this to my undying love for both madonna and cyndi lauper–oh, and the golden girls. mark my words: in our next house, i will have an office with an authentic autographed cast photo on the wall. not that i’ve looked them up on ebay or anything.)

remember how i waxed poetic about gaga back in the fall? this was just after “the fame monster” came out (if you’re unfamiliar, that’s her new album with “bad romance” and “telephone” on it). oh G-d bless her and that album, it got me thru some rough times. i really really needed the pick me up. i don’t think i needed music so badly since i was a closeted high-schooler.

well i’m sorry to report that i’ve now started changing the radio station every time either one of those songs come on. and a new one’s just starting to circulate: an awesome little madonna-esque (circa ’90/’91) ditty called “alejandro.” and it’s occurred to me: the radio’s kind of ruining gaga for me! [*gasp* the horror i know; i am sitting on my jazz hands right now out of the sheer shame of it all. well i did for a moment, otherwise i wouldn’t be typing right now, ha)]

so in light of all this, i have a new theory: if you love love love an artist and loved a song before it even debuted on the radio, change the station when you hear it. i know. i know. it’s going to be hard in the beginning but it’s going to help you in the long run! really.

i am not one of those ppl that gets all tied up into knots when an artist–whether it’s a singer/musician, actor, visual artist, writer, etc.–hits the mainstream. not at all. more power to em. it’s just that when it comes to music, the radio can play the hell out of songs you love and then you wind up never wanting to hear them ever again.

so i’m curious. share with me: what songs (or artists, even) has the radio ruined for you??

oh and if you love gaga, share that, too.

back in baltimore

east baltimore, amtrak train window, 12/1/09


our house is still kind of stinky.

it’s kind of like, if you didn’t know what you were smelling, or weren’t looking for it, you might not realize the smell. but since we do and we are, we smell it. this is disappointing after so many days away and the work the city has done (see previous entry) but we remain hopeful. the painters/carpenters are coming back tomorrow morning to finish the moulding and caulking (when you gut a house down to original bricks and ancient joists and then rebuild it, there’s always things to finish). soon we’ll have our exposed brick sealed. if the house still stinks after we do all that AND they remove parts of the first floor/basement ceiling next door, i….i don’t know what we’ll do. but as i was just telling nicole, what *can* you do?? we own this house. we live there (for now). so…we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

amtrak was crazy today. i still managed to nab a window seat tho. oh i do love a good train ride. esp. w/some good new music to listen to. so funny how i used to stare out those same amtrak windows while attending umcp going either to or from dc. i used to sort of gawk at all the boarded up, bombed-out looking houses when we passed thru baltimore. and think all the broken down industrial sites looked ugly. but now they’re sort of comforting to me, despite all the crap we’ve endured here. kind of wild now, all these years later, i’m married and living not all that far away from those neighborhoods…

while i’m thinking of it, i’d like to mention that the new music i was listening to was none other than the new lady gaga album, the fame monster, which, for the most part, is so good it literally gives me goose bumps. i shall wax poetic about lady gaga some other day, i suppose, but i must say it’s nice to have a real musician–all musician and just as much performance artist–making pop headlines these days. not since madonna has someone pushed the envelope this far. not that there will EVER EVER be a replacement for madonna, mind you (you may know about my undying love for her, winkwink). but it’s about doggone time we have something really fresh out there. plus she is a major friend of the gays (also a tad gay herself). also ppl pop out of pods in her new video (below). and she loves ellen (also below). love you, gaga! glad you hung in there. keep it up, girl. you are totally boosting my spirits.

“it’s your lucky day to be baptized in the greek orthodox church”



yes it was evan’s (see above) lucky day yesterday, as rochester ny’s most fabulous new resident was baptized (much to our local delight!) in baltimore’s own greektown. he’s got quite’a set’a lungs, that kid, as he let out some serious howls after he was dipped in holy water a few times. (umm, if you were cold and naked and wet (and most likely hungry) in front of a crowd in a church, you’d probably be crying, too.) then he peed on his godmother, poor kid. ha. it was adorable, tho. we love him.

what i am esp. loving these days is my friends having kids. we have plenty of friends with children, but it’s only recently that some of my very oldest friends are having babies. what i am loving even more is that my very oldest guy friends (greg and simon/simos, that’s you;) are having babies before my girlfriends. and what i am loving even more, if that’s possible, is watching them as new dads.

ok, so i am not just watching, i am, as the jews say (in yiddish), is kveling [say: K (as in: c‘mon!) K-vel (like “bell”)-ing], which basically means (b/c there’s no dictionary translation for yiddish words b/c us jews take so darn long to explain everything) bubbling over with emotion–like…bursting at the seams. they are already the best dads to these little boys (grant & evan). and what’s even cuter is that they’re both really big guys and seeing them hold these little babies and coo all over them is like…….well, i kvel. and then i get a little verklempt. then i plotz. and then i need a nosh. (when don’t i need a nosh?)

ok, WAIT. stop. i have referenced too many funny ethnic things in this post to go on any further b/c 1) i’m laughing too hard and 2) you need to know what i’m talking about if you don’t know already b/c it’s too funny for you not to know.

the title of this post is one of my favorite lines from “my big fat greek wedding” (one of my all-time favorite movies), which is said more along the lines of:

 “it’za your’a LUCKY DAY to be a-bapTIZED in the GREEK [tongue roll] ORTHODOX CHURCH.”

the dad (Gus) said this to the fiancee (Ian) in the movie–b/c he had to be baptized as greek orthodox before he married his daughter (Toula). holly had to whisper “don’t say that to anyone today, ok???”  to me at least three times yesterday at the church and then again at lunch afterwards (you can’t take me anywhere. really, you can’t), esp. since a grown man was being baptized (JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE!) at the same time (simon’s soon-to-be brother-in-law; it was a two’fer yesterday. total baptism two’fer) as evan.

i wound up breaking down and telling evan it was his a-lucky day to be a-bapitzed in the greek orthodox church at the restaurant after lunch. i was high on greek pastries. luckily he’s three months old and didn’t get it. ha.

in honor of evan and yesterday’s festivities and this blog post and new babies and ethnic ppl in general, i am posting one of my favorite scenes from the movie. (YES. IT WAS MY TWIN. you know the one! ha.)

i am also posting a classic clip of coffee talk with linda richman, she of verklempt. (this is the one with *madonna* and roseanne!!! and BARBARA. like BUTTAH! like two sticks’a buttah!)

simos/lena! love you guys! LOVE EVAN. greg/susan: love YOU guys! LOVE GRANT! love that you guys are dads!!!

love the greeks! love the jews! (WHY ARE WE SO SIMILAR? WHY DO WE TALK SO LOUD?!!)

 turn up your volume & prepare to laugh. these will make your day.

(ok, i just watched both of those again and i have tears, i’m laughing so hard. tears. omg i love it.)

c’mon girls! you believe in love? ’cause i got somethin to say about it, and it goes somethin like this

so again, the headline? probably not so related to whatever it is i’m going to write about. came up with it in a fit of treadmilling over the long weekend. let’s just say my feathers were ruffled, so i slapped on some running shoes, sped that baby up and cranked up the “immaculate collection” (arguably the very best collection of vintage madonna songs ever released) to such a silly-loud decibel that my brain was probably shouting TURN THAT SHIZ DOWN! and while the video for “express yourself” (the lyrics above are from the very beginning of the song) is more than a little confusing [esp. that part where she’s crawling around like a cat, licking milk out of a bowl on the floor? and let’s not forget the legendary crotch grab (loved it then, loves it still)], it’s such an awesome song. but anyway, enough with madge, let’s get right down to business…

holly’s big, brown, beeeeautiful eyes got lasik’ed late friday afternoon. and while i’ll miss “my little four eyes” (awwwwwwww–i’m big on pet names, so pls take no offense if you’ve had or have glasses), i am positively over the moon that she was eligible for the procedure and opted to go for it. half the long weekend, she was too cool for school and wore special sunglasses inside and out. when we were walking outside or driving, she delighted me by proudly reading off license plate numbers. the only sad thing are these “baby bruises” (the doctor called them that) on the whites of her eyes, which will eventually go away, but make me sad to look at.

on second thought, maybe this entry does have a little something to do with love. b/c you can say you love someone til you’re blue in the face, but until you’re up with that person in the middle of the night (or ok, 5am on a saturday–but it might as well be the middle of the night) administring eye drops, holding her hand from the car to the curb and then up the stairs and thru the house b/c she can’t open her eyes…when the person you love is at their weakest and you’re tenderly caring for him or her, listening to her breath, wiping her brow, sleeping with her on the bathroom floor–i don’t think there’s a more pure way to show your love. i may give holly a hard time about picking up wads of tissues when she’s sick, but at my core, i love it. i just love her so much and helping her when she’s down, i just feel lucky to be able to do it.

as if the lasik didn’t get me emotional enough [i pretty much had my face pressed against the glass–they let you watch it going on (OH and there’s also a large flatscreen that shows each EYE while it’s getting lasered. um, yeah, i tried to turn away from that)–while she was in the laser operating room; i was so teary, someone had to come out and check on me], we met with our rabbi (meeting #2) sunday afternoon to start working out the details of our ceremony. i was already PDE (pretty darn emotional), as i’m still processing the fact that a member of my immediate family has opted to not come to the wedding (not something to go into on this blog; let’s just say i’ve shed a lot of tears over it and i’ve moved on), throw wedding vows and blessings (there’s seven big blessings in a jewish marriage ceremony) into the mix and you know i lost it. well, i didn’t lose it completely. but let’s just say that the lump i referred to in a previous posting came back bigger and stronger and hasn’t gone away since. i was biting my lower lip the entire time we were in the rabbi’s office. just thinking about our ceremony puts both of us in tears. (nicolina, bring tissues. bring lots of tissues. and here’s hoping my make-up artist has superstrong waterproof mascara) holly and i have agreed that we don’t know how we’re going to make it thru the ceremony at all. i think i may cry the whole way thru. hell, even looking into holly’s eyes after only a day and a half of not seeing them (b/c of said joe cool dark lasik sunglasses), pretty much put me in a fit. looking into them under the chuppah? i honestly don’t know how i’m gonna do it…

i must’ve been a gay man in a past life

in case you're wondering, yes, i have this framed and hanging on my office wall.

b/c my love for madonna runs so deep and so strong, it’s just unbelievable. it literally takes my breath away. i simply have no words. (yes, you can laugh. b/c i know it sounds ridiculous. but i promise you it’s true.)

i’ve never met her, and to tell you the truth, probably wouldn’t want to. (i’ve also found thru my forays into celebrity journalism that the more celebs i meet/interview, the more disappointed i become), but now, on the eve of her FIFTIETH (!!??) birthday (and despite my ongoing sighs re: her new album) feel i must pay homage to a woman who–besides the obvious female role models in my life, i.e. my mom, late grandmother, teachers, etc.–has perhaps had more impact on my life than any other. i think a lot of women (and perhaps more than a few faaaaabulous men??) my age feel the same way. so after reading this washington post article, i thought it was the perfect time to share my own madonna tribute with you. it’s a little essay i wrote three years ago. i shopped it around to different publications, and they were all, “hmmmm….thanks but notsomuch.” nevermind. anyway, it’s not the greatest thing i’ve ever written, but it’s full of gushy madonna love. i sent it to a few friends over the years, so if you’re one of them, just bear with me.

madonna, i love you. happy 50th! you are an inspiration and a revelation and now, omG, i’m tearing up again! so, without further ado, an essay i like to call…

My Life With Madonna

It dawned on me one day over the summer—quite suddenly and without any warning—that I barely have any recollection of my life without Madonna. Just like television and Hershey bars, every coherent memory I have of my childhood, every ache and pain of adolescent, she’s there in the backdrop, like a timeline. All of my personal milestones I can place next to a Madonna song or Madonna look.
By Madonna, of course I mean Madonna. Madonna the Material Girl. Madonna the instigator. Madonna the once oversexed New Yorker, now Kabbalist mother-of-two, wife and Anglophile.
Like Cher or the Mona Lisa, she’s a woman who doesn’t need a last name. And though technically she has one (it’s Ciccone for the record) it’s really just a footnote.
How can I express my feelings for her without sounding like a complete loon?
Though we’ve never met—and chances are, never will—I feel a very strong connection to her. It’s not like a stalker-type connection. It’s like when you lay eyes on that stuffed animal or anything near and dear to your heart that you’ve hauled around to every place you’ve ever lived. Suddenly you’re in your twenties and you realize it’s been there for you all along, silently sitting there, not offering any guidance or kind words, yet you can’t remember your life without it. You realize this one day, and suddenly you love it more than ever.
That’s Madonna for me. Not quite a snugly stuffed animal or a safety blanket, more like some kind of evolving muse or far-off friend. And although she doesn’t know it, we’ve been through a lot together.
I have memories connected to every one of her singles and every one of her videos. Report cards and friends and school dances. Crushes and outfits and secrets. Dorms and first apartments and train rides back home. Madonna was the backdrop to my entire childhood, adolescent and young adulthood—from kindergarten to college to the workforce.
I guess I must have been about five when Madonna really hit the big-time. It was 1983 or 1984 in northern New Jersey, and I remember seeing her video for “Lucky Star.” I’m not sure how I managed to see it because my parents strictly prohibited MTV back in those days, but I can recall the wonder of that moment: chewing pink Trident in the dining room, watchingher dance moves with tiny eyes and Velcro sneakers. I was completely fascinated. The singing, the dancing, the black lace and jelly bracelets and stretchpants.
I was hooked.
As I grew, there were more videos and then magazine covers and even movies. Most of the videos I didn’t really understand: grown men fighting for her pink-gowned attention in “Material Girl”; that she was “keeping her baby” in “Papa Don’t Preach” (Whatever that meant, I thought. Why was she calling her boyfriend baby and why wouldn’t her father let her keep him?); burning crosses in “Like a Prayer”; cone-shaped and tasseled bras; and her mermaid suit in the “Cherish” video (Though I don’t think anyone understood that one).
Madonna kept me guessingand I think that’s what I loved about her. Just when I figured something out, she busted out withsomething—or someone—new. It was exhilarating.
I made up my first (and last) choreographed dance with a middle school friend to “Into the Groove.” I remember there was a lot of skipping in it, and to tell you the truth, I thought it was a pretty darn good dance at the time.
My childhood friend Sara, as she suffered with leukemia throughout middle school and high school, always loved Madonna. I remember going to her house a few years before she passed away, and we listened to “Secret” in her ruffled bedroom. I still think of her every time I hear it.
At my bat mitzvah in 1991, Madonna was there. I have a distinct memory of “Vogue-ing” at my party in the synagogue auditorium. There was a smoke machine and I was wearing a pink, ruffly, sequined dress. My hair was in a French braid, my lipstick was frosted and my number one passion was “Beverly Hills 90210.”  
Madonna was especially feisty those days and I was an especially awkward middle schooler. As I tightly cuffed my size 5 Guess? jeans and danced the running man, I unknowingly studied her evolution.
Her looks kept changing and she seemed to do the opposite of what everyone else wanted her to do. I nodded and agreed with frustrated mothers and teachers but silently I cheered her on. I didn’t really understand what she was doing but I felt somehow it was important. And it was, not just for me but for millions of other girls everywhere.
While I was doing homework and growing up, Madonna was busy breaking all the rules so I wouldn’t have to. She’s always been there for me, some kind of silent reassuring voice telling me throughout my life that I should be who I am, do what I need to, and, perhaps most importantly, that I can always reinvent myself.
People can say what they will. Granted, Madonna’s movies aren’t usually smash hits and her new albums really can’t hold a candle to her old ones. But I’ll never change my mind about her. Ever.
They just don’t make ’em like Madonna anymore. She did it first and she did it best.  Britney and the Simpson girls and Christina Aguelira, they’re copycats, “poptarts,” as a friend of mine calls them. 
Madonna’s more than a couple hits singles and a bare midriff. As wild as it seems, she’s comfort to me—the rock star equivalent of lox on a bagel, “Golden Girls” reruns and my favorite worn-in boots. Madonna is the bad older sister we never had. Madonna is forever.