Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Friends of Old-Time Radio, a convention

October 24, 2009: The Holiday Inn in Newark, NJ

This is the very talented, Brian Gari. He is an outstanding panel host who is exceedingly knowledgeable and he moves things along with a huge amount of enthusiasm and contagious joy. He and Stu Weiss moderated a discussion with guests Clay Cole, Eugene Pitt, Tracey Dey, and Billy Goldenberg. The hour included film and audio clips.
Brian is the grandson of Eddie Cantor.
Here is my interview from last April with Brian Gari.

This is the very beautiful Janet Cantor Gari, the daughter of the phenomenal entertainer, Eddie Cantor. She is Brian Gari's mother.

This is the infamous hoaxer, Alan Abel.

This is Tracey Dey, Clay Cole, and Brian Gari.

This is the legendary Joe Franklin. At the convention, he was the host of the Joe Franklin Show with Mary Owen, Lillian Murphy (Harvest of the Stars) and Cherie Becker (wife of Sandy Becker).

This is "Billy" Goldenberg. He is the composer who wrote the scores for many of Steven Spielberg's films and also for the TV series Kojak and the TV series Columbo.

This is the great Eugene Sampson Pitt who sang with "The Jive Five."

I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Owen, the daughter of Donna Reed, at the convention. She told me about letters she found that were written to her mother. Mary Owen speaks in the NYTimes about the G.I. letters sent to her mother, Donna Reed, during WW II.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lunch with Jerry, "The Marble Faun"

Jerry and I met for lunch at a restaurant in midtown. We spoke about the Beales and Grey Gardens, and relationships, and where life takes us as we move along through the decades. It was wonderful seeing him again, and each time we are together we grow closer. Jerry is a very interesting man and he has many memories and it was a pleasure to spend part of the afternoon with him on a very beautiful day in Manhattan. Here is my interview from last May with Jerry, Edie Beale's "Marble Faun."

And this just in: Jerry, In Production! Jerry has had a very interesting life and I am thrilled, delighted, and excited... and I cannot wait to see this documentary!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alan Berliner, filmmaker and media artist

My interview today with Alan Berliner was different from any other that came before. Alan Berliner is the filmmaker who two years ago invited me to join an NYU class on film archiving that was visiting his lower Manhattan studio. The specific purpose of my visit was to discuss a possible solution for the preservation of my old family photos. During the class discussion, Alan suggested I post the photos to the internet where they would be saved and available to any viewers who might discover the site. And shortly thereafter my memoir in a blog, marjorie-pentimentos, began. Today, Alan called my visit to the class an "intervention."

Many months ago when I began marjorie-digest, I asked Alan if he would be interviewed by me for this blog. He thought it would be worthwhile if I again joined another class from NYU and talked about my experience of two years ago and how the process was suggested in a concept during the first visit. Alan requested that I arrive early and that would give us a chance to talk. I was excited and I looked forward to today. I had no idea that the interview that I had intended to be about Alan would somehow morph into an interview about me!

We began and I told Alan that on Sunday many of the descendants of my great-grandparents, Abraham Levine and Goldie Benjamin, gathered at a restaurant in Manhattan for a family reunion. I told Alan that I expecially loved watching the family home movies from around 1952 that were brought by my cousin, Allen. As I talked about Sunday, I slowly began a stream-of-consciousness about so many different topics I felt somehow as if I was going to places that should never have left the imaginative confines of my own head.

And Alan sat there taking notes. He asked just the right questions to bring me to these personal places that were bittersweet and emotional. I talked and talked... about reincarnation, and quantum physics, and consciousness, and past lives, and memories. When I talked about time travel, I think my mind was on that train longing for "Willoughby" where I could enjoy the comforts of the past.

I talked about my life in retirement and my life... and I even spoke about my OCD. I just kept talking and talking... and dialogue flowed (probably from my subconscious) about personal feelings, old family photos, and home movies. I told Alan I love home movies because they are the closest thing to time travel we will ever get. The conversation was layered at times with fantasy, and imagination, and wishful thinking. And Alan kept writing.

He was able to somehow make me want to become nostalgic and share thoughts on so many things... when I was there to be the listener and learn more about him! I was embarrassed and I apologized to Alan that the interview became about me. He waved his hand and seemed to not care and said something like "Maybe I wanted to do that."

And this must be why he is a phenomenal filmmaker. He has this uncanny and kind ability to inspire people to be real and in a defenseless and in a very unguarded way to discover meaningful feelings.

Well, I had to temporarily shut-up because the class arrived and Alan played some very interesting and engaging sound effects for them and then they sat in a circle while I was asked to speak about the birth of my blog. And I did.

Alan inspires me to want to be a better "keeper of the memories." If after I contacted him two years ago Alan had not graciously invited me to meet with him, all my "stuff" probably would have one day been lost forever in a Staten Island landfill. That makes me sad. It makes me sad because one of my personal treasures is a letter that was written by my grandmother to my mother in about 1929. It appears in my memoir in this entry with a poem I wrote in 1992 which developed from some of my feelings about that letter... maybe sentimental memorabilia is in a sense a "madeleine."

In "Synecdoche, New York," the writer Charlie Kaufman ends the film with a monologue: "Now, it is waiting, and nobody cares. And when your wait is over, this room will still exist, and it will continue to hold shoes, and dresses, and boxes. And maybe someday, another waiting person. And maybe not. The room doesn't care either..."

Alan cares and I am on Alan's wave-length. And maybe there is a large group of total strangers who share these thoughts about time and the passing of time and the importance of, as Alan said, "saving pieces of individual lives" even in small scale ways.

At his website Alan has a link to his articles, essays, and journals. Please read his essay, "Gathering Stones." Alan showed me the way to help my own "orphaned photos" find a home.
And in his journal piece "Nobody's Business," Alan writes: "But yes, it is me who returns to visit -- not any of their children, their grandchildren, or any (other) of their great-grandchildren. Just me."

And so I realize that I had forgotten to tell Alan that on infrequent down days when I have little to do, I ride to the still-standing buildings in Brooklyn where I once lived. It seems to be always gloomy and raining on those days. But even on bright sunny days, I think about the homes and the times inside those homes. My mind wanders and I can still hear my mother calling me, at 5:30 PM, for "supper." Sometimes, when I arrive at one house... I park my car slightly down the street, and look at the outside of the window in the room where I once lay in bed at night, so long ago, listening to the sounds of whooshing cars as they passed while I watched their shadows dancing on my bedroom wall. And I still visit my grandmother's house in Bensonhurst.

Alan Berliner is a creative award-winning filmmaker. You can learn more about him and his work by clicking on the links below.


The Sweetest Sound

Nobody's Business

Intimate Stranger

The Family Album

Wide Awake

Short Films

online Interviews:
POV - The Sweetest Sound

San Francisco Film Festival: Wide Awake

Monday, October 12, 2009

Irish Hunger Memorial, by artist Brian Tolle

I went on a Sunday... and then stayed for a while in the beautiful park in Battery Park City.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nathan Wasserberger, painter

I was going to interview Nathan Wasserberger for this blog on Wednesday, April 15th. He called a few days before that date to cancel the interview and told me that he wanted to postpone for a month our project because he had some unfinished business. He said he wanted to remain in touch and work it out.

It is now October, and I am very disappointed that this much anticipated interview did not happen as planned. Nathan Wasserberger has not contacted me to pursue an interview and while we did speak today on the phone, it appears an interview will not happen.

With good intentions, I post these paintings done by Mr. Wasserberger. You can learn a bit more about Nathan Wasserberger here. Nathan told me "literature lasts forever." And so does the impeccable and magnificent beauty of his work. Many of Nathan Wasserberger's color plates of his paintings are in the permanent archives of American Art in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

"Sandra," 1957

"Old Man," 1964

"Girl in White Robe," 1982

Nathan Wasserberger is aware that his paintings appear at this blog.