“Sometimes people are b…

“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.”
― Markus Zusak, I am the Messenger

 I went to a funeral Monday.  To the very young, it’s news. To the very old, it seems to be more than an every-now-and-then occurrence.  To a middle-aged woman, who majored in journalism and minored in sociology it was sweet.

The Eulogies were…. Strike that.  Eulogies   The tributes, as the family preferred to refer to the speeches were very touching.  First the husband spoke about being in love with his gracious and classy wife. He spoke of the first day he saw her, at a dance at the 92nd Street Y, in New York City, when he was a World War II GI.  He spoke about assuming she’d be a very smart lady, as she was from the Bronx.(He lived in Brooklyn at that time, and bombed German cities and Nazi armories and military strong points) He spoke about her beautiful smile and the respect he has, and always will have, for her.  She could have gone to  school at the New York Fashion Institute, but instead she earned a “PhT” from the polytechnic institute that he graduated from.  No, not a PhD—a PhT, “Putting Him Through” degree.  He hung her certificate next to his diploma wherever he set up office. He never forgot to be grateful of the work she did, sacrifices she made so he could afford to go to school.  Back then, as today, the GI Bill didn’t cover all the costs.   He ended his tribute by promising to always love her. His friends and family knew that he meant it.  He showed his love to her, despite how her brain and looks might have been affected after she suffered a series of strokes, and what seemed to be, the onset of dementia. His annual holiday letter often included photos of his wife, captioned by how beautiful her smile was, and how beautiful she looked.  He promised to continue to love her…….

……..They would have been married for 65 years at the end of this month.

Then the grandson-in-law and granddaughter came to the podium and, as you could well imagine, after hearing their grandfather speak,  they could barely contain their tears.  The husband of the granddaughter also spoke words of respect and praised the dignity in which the woman lived her life, as well as her famous “Harvey Wallbanger Cake.”   Yes, the dearly departed could cook. But, it wasn’t just the kitchen that was the warm spot in the household. It was the whole experience of being part of the family one in which the husband lavished praise, love and respect on his wife. You could see it in how he embraced the granddaughter, that the grandson-in-law learned from the old man.

Next it was the son-in-law’s turn to speak.  First came praise for how this gracious and dignified woman raised his wife(her daughter) and treated him, as if he were her own son.  The respect and dignity and love shown to the women by the men in her family seemed to have trickled down through the generations.

It might not seem an appropriate thing to say.  But, this past Monday I truly enjoyed going to a funeral.





Summer Stories!

10286801_460951137341616_1928828798235217180_oI’m still collecting Summer stories for Patriot-Made Audiocast  Please take a listen to this episode and get inspired!

It’s really easy to record your memories. If you own a mobile phone, find the voice memo app or feature on your phone. Hit record, share with me your story, or natural sounds that you are hearing this summer. Stop recording. Hit save, and then, follow the prompts Usually an arrow pointing up arrow-upand choose to either send it by email to patmadeaudio@gmail.com or our cell phone, via text message, 202.594.6138
Thanks for listening and for supporting this blog, and my other endeavors.

Summer Stories

So, as part of my job, my self appointed job, I’m asking people to record audio, using their own voices, memories of summer. Summer stories. Send an MP3 to patmadeaudio@gmail.com or text me a voicememo from your phone to a burner that I got just for this job, 202. 594.6138.  I’ll use portions of a recording for a series on American summer memories for a podcast called Patriot-Made Audiocast. @Patriotmade, which is distributed on iTunes, and carried by the Progressive Voices Channel on TuneIn. Call it a brief resbit from the politics and bs of the day.

And that ends the promotional portion of my blog.

I just listened to somebody elses summer memories, and, it was a humorous story about how this woman’s family didn’t do much, or go anywhere, during the summer. Then, I got to thinking. I was lucky. My folks took me and my two sisters on car trips. We’d visit places that required just one or two overnight stays. Or, we’d go on a little longer to break-in a new car, and see relatives, like my late great Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary, who lived near Cleveland, Ohio. Sweet memories of their house.  We went to Amish Country in Pennsylvania and had “shoo-fly-pie,” and prior to that, there were trips to Greenwood Lake, in the Catskills, where my Aunt Sondra and my late uncle Raymond, and cousins Susan and David had a summer log-home. It was all magic to me.

But, clear as yesterday I remember one summer trip that we took one August.

I think it was in 1972, we went to the end of the world–Montauk Point, and I think we stayed at a placed called the Atlantic Motor Inn. It was a good summer as I think the Mets were doing ok. I was bunking with my two  sisters in one room, my parents in the ajoining room. Time went slowly. Everyday was tunafish sandwiches, sand in my bathing suit, and body surfing and fighting the undertow. It seemed like a month, but it was only 4  or 5 days. Dad brought his fishing pole-lost a pair of sunglasses to a wave and Mom covered herself up with a big floppy hat and loose shirts, and sat under an umbrella to keep from burning like a roman candle in the sun. We didn’t fly to any vacation places. We drove there, in what was probably a 1971Ford Galaxie 500. It took forever to get to the end of Long Island. But, when you look over the ocean and wonder who in the world might be on the other side, what more could a 8 year old girl ask for? I think I got my yen for travel wondering what it would be to sail on the Atlantic, and leave from Montauk. It was a great day dream.

It was one of the last summers before my older sisters started “having lives” of their own, and preferred to hang out with their own friends, or getting summer jobs. So, we spent a lot of time together. It was before my eyesight, without glasses, wasn’t so bad, when I could see what the beach looked like before I hit the waves. Ever since I have had to take off my glasses so that I don’t lose them to a wave like my Dad lost his. Now when I go for a  swim at a beach it’s all “In G-d I trust,” to avoid stepping on jelly fish, or sharp shells, as I walk toward the incoming wave.  And, I body surfed as a kid! It’s something I don’t dare think about doing now until I lose more than a few pounds.  But, I spent hours in the sun, and then cooling off while riding the waves back to shore. You didn’t need to be a good swimmer. You just had to know how to hold your breath and lie on your stomach. And, oh! You needed to know when to start that ride with the oncoming wave.  You felt like you accomplished something everytime your mother looked at you wiping the sand off your face, and moving your salty-bangs away from your eyes.  That’s one of my memories of summer. Days so full of sunshine and ocean that I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, before my sisters turned off the lights or the television set, in that motor inn room.

The childhood perspective of life is something else, isn’t it?  Time is alongated. Worries and responsabilities are none. The smallest of looks and gestures are huge. The taste of simple foods are new. And, summer, (perhaps I am romanticizing it) was special. Anxieties about getting homework done and handed in on time didn’t exist. You were on a break, that is, if you were a lucky as I was as a kid.  And, I was a lucky kid.

Remembering the Women Who Died Making it America

You’ve heard the phrase, “By the grace of G-d go I.” It means, it could have easily been me, my friends, or, in this case, my great-grandmother. Thankfully, it wasn’t anybody in my family. I’m here as testimony to that. I’m talking about the horrible fire that 2-chalk2014flyerbhappened in a shirtwaist factory in New York City.Sisters and mothers and daughters, and friends worked together in that factory and at the turn of the century-the early 20th Century-it was part of the bustling clothing and apparel industry in Lower Manhattan.  But, on March 25th, 1911 a fire broke out; exits were blocked; fabric dust ignited; women were burned alive or died trying to escape from the flames and lives were lost. It only took 30 minutes for 146 to perish.

I stumbled upon a website  streetpictures.org/chalkHere you can find the places where the women lived. If you walk around Manhattan, on March 25th you’ll be able to see TRIANGLE1-blog480where they lived as other women commemorate their lives, and also, their tragic deaths, in chalk, on the sidewalks by their addresses. Women are volunteering to write on the sidewalks. I wish I could be there to help. Perhaps it’s because many of the dead were immigrants, or the children of immigrants who had few choices as to where they could earn the money they needed to help their families make ends meet. They made things with their own hands, in America, working for the American dream. It could have been somebody I loved. It wasn’t. I am lucky.


Podcast Produced by Flatlands is On Fire!

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I love it when a good person has good things coming to her. In this case it’s a client of ours at Flatlands Avenue Productions.

We asked Detroit area business consultant Romy Gingras, an expert on running and managing social enterprise companies, if she would like to do a podcast. And, her answer was a cautious yes. She was taught how to use a microphone, how to record interviews on her laptop in person, and using online conferencing services, and listen to that dreadful stuff called criticism. Yup, media training by your friend Rita.

So, here’s this lady who knows so much, and teaches others how to make money while running a business that fulfills a need inside their communities and neighborhoods like; putting women’s shelter residents to work; finding jobs for young men and women who don’t want to go to college; training laborers in skills to rebuild Detroit and the rest of the U.S. infrastructure; creating safe work environments and fresh, organic food in urban areas where the super markets have long ago moved out…and she’s a great student too!(I’m tired just reading this graph.) What’s more is that this lady is on fire. Just today she recorded three new interviews for upcoming podcasts.  I used to call what she’s feeling  a, “radio-buzz.” Now I suppose I should call it “podcasting adrenalin.”

The Bonfires of Social Enterprise is just over a week old and has already been downloaded over 650 times. We’re proud of our great podcasting student, Romy Gingras, of Gingras Global. We’re inspired by her success. We hope you will be too!

Our news release is here> http://bit.ly/RomyRocks. Share the love, will ya?

Please take a listen to the podcast on iTunes and subscribe to it. (You’ll find the link to it in the release) If you’re like me, you’ll be interested in how other Americans are bravely starting their own businesses, making a profit, and doing good.

All my very best as we all countdown to Spring!





Flatlands Avenue Productions, LLC

flatlands header

Well, we did it. With the help of an attorney named Steve Rich, my business partner Debra Grobman, and my trusted business associate, advisor and content writer, Alice Fisher, the producers of Patriot-Made Audiocast formed a company. We’ve registered in Ann Arbor, Michigan because that state is like a business incubator for the rest of the country. It’s largest city is slowly climbing out of bankruptcy and reinventing what it’s economy will look like and how many different types of economies it will have to support its population.

You see, contrary to popular belief, not all Americans up and leave and abandon their homes and communities just because they cannot make money there. A great many stay. They make tough economic choices. Some cannot afford to leave. Some are emotionally attached to neighborhoods that they were born into, or where they’ve inherited homes, and at one point, even livelihoods and jobs.  (You might have heard of sons following dads onto the auto-assembly lines.) They truly tough it out as roads and bridges crumble beneath their feet, and street lights are turned off by the city, the copper wiring stripped to be sold for scrap by their government in order to help get the city out of bankruptcy. They live within sight of mighty high rise buildings that are carcasses of the glorious days of decades-past. These are buildings stripped bare on the inside by desperate people looking for money at the recycling centers and scrap yards of our country.

Some stay because there was such promise and hope. I went to college in Buffalo, New York State’s second largest city. I was fortunate to be on that city’s west side, home of victorian mansions, beautiful parks and parkways, and homes that showed the promise of what was the modern 20th Century industrial age-the age before the jet plane.  Families were large, so homes were large. You can see these homes still, some better preserved than others. Some subdivided into apartments and commercial use, like sub shops, beauty shops and drug stores.  These homes haunt me as I imagine the families who lived there, and what their daily lives could have been like.

Buffalo went through a hard time. But, it had a consistent public transit system. The transit system rarely, if ever, stopped functioning. So, those without cars could get around the city and find their way to the suburbs.  There were, and still are, patrons of the arts and culture, and other establishments that stayed with the city even when manufacturers and industry shuttered factories and left town.

Detroit suffered from a mass exodus, as city services ceased to operate and neighborhoods were unlivable. Property was abandoned because it couldn’t be given away.   Now, some folks I have talked to are afraid  foreign interests are buying land that used to be neighborhoods and communities, for, well, dirt cheap.  Meantime the social climate is getting stronger in some of the hardiest areas of the city. But, those who still live in the oldest neighborhoods (the ones that remind me of Buffalo at the turn of the 20th Century) are still there. There’s no money in for their municipal government to re-invest in these areas, so people are finding ways to do it themselves.   So, that’s why Flatlands Avenue Productions set up an LLC in Michigan.  We are passionate about shedding light on stories of the phoenix rising out of the ashes.  We want to share their stories, and are committed to helping others who are knee deep in the hard work, sweat, anxiety and nervous moments when decisions are made, money is spent, and money is given away to get the job done. Along the way we’re meeting a lot of great people. They might have that mid-west humility-attitude going on because after you attend the school of hard knocks, it’s not that hard to be humble. But, they are great. They have the spirit of cooperation and devotion to their community that my partners and colleagues find so invigorating.

Rita Rich

Gratitude to Friends; New Friends; Friends I Do Business With and Supporters in 2014

Debra designed this logo

My business partner Debra Grobman  and I are very thankful that Cherri Senders, the publisher of Labor411.org, is supporting our efforts to spread the word to buy made in USA whenever possible. Our business associate, USAF vet, Alice Fisher, has been a great consultant and resourceful communications pro to us.  Ms. Alice probably will kill me for not asking her to edit this blog entry, but what the heck. Somethings you just want to write without other eyes looking at it first.  We owe so much to her for fixing up and working on the Search Engine Optimization of Patriot-Made Audiocasts.

Sikh is “sick” but that’s good!

We’ve met so many incredible people over the past year.  It’s been truly fascinating. Vishavjit Singh,  o f http://www.sikhtoons.com/ by way of old dear college buddy of mine, (SUNY Buffalo State College) Howie Greene who is all grown up now and works as a real estate broker at Level Group, Inc Real Estate and Professor at Kingsborough Community College, in my beloved Brooklyn, NY.

My machtunim—heavy on the ch (hhh) sound like Juan and Julio (it’s a Yiddish word) aka-brothers-in-law have been very supportive of my business ventures and the company that Debra and I formed called Flatlands Avenue Productions, LLC. Continue reading Gratitude to Friends; New Friends; Friends I Do Business With and Supporters in 2014

New Favorite Quote

I have a new favorite quote. Here’s it’s source: http://jewishwomenstheater.org/interview-with-monica-piper/Six-Faces-150x150
Here’s the quote:

“The deeper meaning is what my grandmother told me, “What’s important is that you have a Jewish heart.” You don’t have go to temple and you don’t even have to be Jewish to have one. Its four chambers are: humor compassion acceptance and action.”

I try to live like that, with a Jewish heart. The point of the quote is that anyone can have the “four chambers” of a Jewish heart.  So, you can skip the speed-praying that some men do in synagogue, or the gossip that some stereotype of the Jewish woman does in Shul, the hurrying to get the makings of a Sabbath dinner before sundown on Friday, and think about the social action and gut reactions of a person who has a great sense of humor, compassion, acceptance of others, and action–be it social or career.  It’s why I’m a writer, or storyteller. It’s why I work and spend extra time to get other folks to tell their stories and create podcasts which I share with others. It’s my politics and my hibernation from politics from time-to-time.  It’s my respect for my dogs and pets as not things I own, but furry persons with whom I live with.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s why I try to create friendships, even very temporary ones, where ever I go-like here, on this blog post.

Maybe there are a lot more souls out there with Jewish hearts than I realize.