BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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There’s work and then there’s ironing


Princess Diana once confessed that she enjoyed ironing. I totally get it. Like Di, I find the job of ironing to be somewhat zen-like, calming and relaxing. Ever since I started setting my ironing board up in front of the television to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the seventies, I can honestly say I do not regard it as a chore. But my instruments and environment have to be exactly to my specifications, much like professional chess players, athletes and Glenn Gould. When the world’s fastest typist, the late Barbara Blackburn once failed to meet her usual high output of up to 212 wpm on a manual typewriter in front of an audience, she attributed her disappointing performance to her chair being adjusted one-quarter of an inch too low. We artists have specific standards.

Ever since my Mary Tyler Moore-watching days, I’ve scheduled my ironing to coincide with watching a favourite television show and the time just flies by. After putting up with a wobbly, inferior ironing board for years, I finally bit the bullet and purchased one of those sturdy extra-wide European models that cost about $150.00 and I can vouch for the fact they are so worth the money. It’s solid, has a rack for piling finished garments, an attached rack for the iron and slots in the frame for stacking empty hangers. Of course, a proper ironing board requires a serious iron that can guarantee an abundance of steam. Thus, another serious investment in a Rowena iron. Fortunately I haven’t yet felt the need for a Miele electric mangle for pressing sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths which is fortunate as they cost more than $3,000.00, Other than hotels and restaurants, who uses that many tablecloths?

One place where I draw the line, however, is men’s shirts. My husband’s wardrobe has been carefully curated so his everyday shirts are no-iron and dress shirts are handled by the dry cleaner. Does that make me a bad wife? I don’t mind ironing my own things, but men’s shirts are just plain drudgery. I once had a friend whose husband did all the ironing and he threatened to quit unless she stopped buying 100% cotton blouses. He understood the difference between work and pleasure.

You can’t deny it’s a beautiful thing.

I also have a passion for 100% linen tea towels—not cotton and not 50/50. I like to pick them up as souvenirs from places I’ve visited. It’s particularly satisfying to iron linen tea towels which always look so colourful, crisp and orderly when neatly pressed and stacked next to a pile of freshly ironed pillow cases. I use scented linen water to spray whatever I’m ironing so my spirits are always uplifted by the scents of lavender or ocean breezes. And there’s nothing as satisfying as admiring a line of freshly ironed blouses and tops. Call me crazy but it’s a truly rewarding sight. Let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you can start sending me your laundry to iron. The Marilyn Denis Show and CityLine are each only an hour-long and there’s only so much I can accomplish in such a tight time frame. We don’t want it to become work and we have our standards.

Stay special mes très chères.

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All The Money In The World . . . doesn’t buy happiness


John Paul Getty III with his mother Gail after his release.

If you’re a boomer like me, you probably remember the sensational newspaper coverage of a brutal kidnapping in the early seventies. Paul Getty, the sixteen-year-old grandson of the world’s richest man J. Paul Getty, was snatched off the street in Rome and held for ransom of $17 million. The drama played out for several months. Getty Sr. refused to pay the ransom while the Calabrian organized crime ring who kidnapped him grew increasingly desperate. I clearly remember the universal shock and horror when we read that the kidnappers amputated Getty Jr.’s ear and sent it to a newspaper to a) prove that they still had him and, b) to confirm their commitment to following through with further amputations unless their demands were met.

Watching the movie All The Money In The World filled in all the background information that was missing and forgotten about the notorious kidnapping. The substitution of fallen-from-grace Kevin Spacey with Canadian Christopher Plummer was a deft move. Plumber was perfect in his portrayal of Getty Sr. as a calculating, dispassionate, eccentric old billionaire. He protected his fortune greedily while indulging his passion for collecting art with the love and dedication he should have afforded his own family. Casting of Charlie Plummer as Paul Getty Jr. was also excellent and he even somewhat resembled Michelle Williams who played Getty Jr.’s mother. Williams played Gail Getty with just the right amount of angst, indignation and anger. Gail married a Getty son and divorced him without any form of compensation from the Getty family in order to retain custody of her three children. That decision left her broke and incapable of raising the ransom money herself leaving her at the mercy of her former father-in-law.

Michelle Williams played Getty Jr.’s mother Gail, accompanied by Mark Wahlberg as Getty Sr.’s negotiator.

All The Money In The World is a good movie. Not only do we learn the story behind the story, but we’re treated to beautiful shots of Rome and the Italian countryside. We watch the negotiations for a $17 million ransom drop over time as the kidnapping ‘contract’ is sold to a second crime ring. And, there are the obvious conclusions to be drawn about ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ and the disastrous effects it often has on second and third generations in wealthy families. My gal pals and I really enjoyed our couple of hours watching this movie and I’m confident you will too. We gave it four beautifully manicured thumbs-up.

You are special mes très chères.

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Living my dreams through Vanity Fair’s Tina Brown


What could be more enthralling than reading someone’s diary, especially someone who regularly rubs shoulders with the rich and famous? It feels forbidden, furtive, even a bit titillating. We’re discovering that person’s innermost thoughts, opinions and impressions in the context of their daily life. And when that life is one lived in the rarefied circles of Tina Brown, editor of Vanity Fair magazine from 1984 to 1992, it’s delicious beyond words. Which explains why I binge-read her book Vanity Fair Diaries in three or four-hour bursts until my eyes wouldn’t focus any longer. Brown is responsible for those avant-garde covers of a naked, pregnant Demi Moore and a moonwalking Michael Jackson.

Tina Brown is an upper middle-class British-born baby boomer, educated at Oxford University. At the age of twenty-five, she was hired to revitalize that famous British magazine, Tatler, which she did with skill and originality. Five years later she was bored and started looking for new opportunities. Across the Atlantic, Condé Nast in New York City was looking for someone to breathe new life into their ailing Vanity Fair magazine. After a six-month mating dance, Tina Brown was hired. Along with her husband Harry Evans, former editor of The Times of London they moved to New York, found an apartment, bought a weekend retreat on Long Island and began the dizzying life of news makers and reporters. She systematically dismantled the old VF staff and rebuilt on new foundations with creative people she knew could produce and deliver her vision.

Tina Brown’s husband, Harry Evans, a media star in his own right, was a strong supporter of his wife’s ambitions.

Naturally, any shakeup in business involves casualties. The politics and behind-the-scenes psychological games required to get a successful magazine to print involve a mind-boggling complex skill set of business smarts, networking connections, branding, marketing, creativity and ego management. Any senior business manager will confirm that one of the most difficult aspects of the job is handling the personnel issues and this is particularly true when dealing with sensitive creative types. Toss ego, personal wealth and power into the mix and it’s a volatile brew.

The name-dropping in this book is unavoidable and reading her accounts of interactions with famous people over the years is fascinating.  Her descriptions of daily events range from educational and informative to bitchy and salacious with wonderful and rather prophetic observations sprinkled throughout the book:

On observing the working women in the office of her real estate agent: “Looking at all these tense New York women, a little frayed, a little underpaid,  enough to keep them hooked on their career  path but not enough to finance escape. I felt they are the new prisoners of the American dream, always working harder than the guys and dealing and redealing the paperwork.”

On trophy wives: The perennial irony here is that men still have all the cards. “They can be driven bastards for years and ignore their kids. Then when they mellow out they can have a younger wife, a new family, and all the perks of a fresh start.”

On the pursuit of acquisition: “Without any market research he has crystallized the current longing for tradition and what he describes as the ‘lack of loveliness in the rootless, unbeautiful lives of the modern American woman who knows that deep down all the running is leading every day to a lesser life.”

With daring photos by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair covers broke new ground.

On dealing with male entitlement: “On the Washington shuttle on the way to Kay Graham’s seventieth birthday party . . . I am sitting across from the Wall Street investor and CEO of CBS, Larry Tisch. He asked me to reach up to the overhead compartment to get down his jacket and I tipped it upside down so all his money and pens and credit cards rained down on his bald head, and he had to grovel around under the seat and retrieve them.”

On working mothers’ quality time with children: “Quality time is a myth. Babies want slow, wasted time together, not intense nose-to-nose ‘involvement’. There is no comparison.”

On (prophetically) reading Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal in September 1987: “It feels, when you have finished it, as if you’ve been nose to nose for four hours with an entertaining con man and I suspect the American public will like nothing better. . . Marie has been able to establish such a pattern of lying and loudmouthing in Trump that it’s incredible he still prospers and gets banks to loan him money. . . He’s like some monstrous id creation of his father, a cartoon assemblage of all his worst characteristics mixed with the particular excesses of the new media age. The revelation that he has a collection of Hitler’s speeches at the office is going to make a lot of news.”

On technology: January, 1990: “By the mid-nineties computer owners will be able to buy everything from their home offices and retail marketing will become a dinosaur.”

On the importance of political skills in business: “Having political instincts is always underestimated as a requisite for hiring. In fact, calling someone ‘political’ is usually pejorative, implying manipulation and distrust, but many jobs are impossible to succeed at without political skills.”

On being patronized by male superiors for “throwing money around” :” As if I am some ditzy girl run amok with the budget . . . instead of acknowledging our 63 percent rise in circulation and tripling of ad pages from 431 in 1985 to 1,193 today (April 1989). So fuck all the naysayers. I am so over being patronized by know-all guys.”

Brown is candid about money issues. She started working at Vanity Fair for a salary of $130,000.00. She’s forthcoming about her real estate costs, raises and salary negotiations. Like most women, she toiled for years earning less than men in her profession who oversaw magazines with smaller circulation, less ad revenue and generating less profit than VF. We’ve all been there, but Brown eventually made the smart decision to have a professional third-party negotiate her compensation package.

Is my future life destined to be editor of national magazines? Maybe I should stick with my own one-person band, Boomerbroadcast.

I’ve always envisioned being reborn in my next life as editor of national women’s magazine. Not the kind that gives you tips on how to cope with the crush of holiday entertaining or how to ensure your kids get into the best Montessori schools, but the other kind, like VF or MORE magazine, that beacon for ‘women of a certain age’ that was sadly discontinued a couple of years ago, first its Canadian edition and finally by its American publisher. MORE was an intelligent mix of business advice, fashion, current events and general interest pieces for mature women with interests beyond hearth and home—sort of a VF lite.

A few months ago I read The Price of Illusion by Joan Juliet Buck former editor of Paris Vogue and having just finished Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown, I’m reconsidering my career ambitions for my next life. I must say, Vanity Fair Diaries is a guaranteed page-turner. It’s not a memoir reflecting on times past, but an actual diary written in real-time. It reads like a time capsule allowing us to compare how things and people turned out over time. While being editor of such a glamorous and relevant magazine may seem like a dream job, there’s a lot of hard work involved. The constant churn of political manoeuvring, business strategizing and networking is physically, mentally and emotionally stressful and the demands on personal time make home and family life challenging.

Like most women, Brown constantly struggled with the demands of combining motherhood and career.

In the midst of all this, Brown had two babies, one with developmental challenges resulting from premature birth, and she still managed to maintain her love affair with her husband. She constantly struggled with the bilateral demands of trying to be the best mother she could be and the best magazine editor she could be. That’s a tall order for anyone. I must admit I might not be up to the task, much as I think I would like the job. Perhaps I’ll have to settle instead for living the life of editor of a national magazine vicariously through reading books by wonderful, talented women like Tina Brown and Joan Buck. In the meantime, I’ll just stick to blogging with my staff of one (me), my limited and precious readership (you) and no politics, ego or money involved. Well, maybe a bit of ego (mine) but that’s the joy and benefit of being your own boss.

Stay special mes très chères.

Click here to read my earlier review of The Price of Illusion by Joan Buck

To order Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown from Amazon.com, click here.

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Will 2018 be the beginning of the end of oppression of women?


Stephen, please be one of the good guys.

I am a feminist and not being a feminist is a sign of ignorance. I love men and there are a lot of good ones out there. I’m married to one. My friends’ husbands are good ones—in fact, the majority of men are good ones. But the bad ones are now being exposed for the scum they are. Predators are dropping like flies. Stephen Colbert recently joked that he’ll soon be the only man left on television—keeping our fingers crossed that he’s earned that privilege, as I like Stephen Colbert.

Every day we read the growing list of men being toppled from their pedestals by accusations of sexual abuse. While it’s gratifying to see how the mighty have fallen, the current exposures do not begin to address the level of silent abuse that takes place every day in businesses, communities, homes and relationships.  I believe most of the good guys out there are not fully aware of the pervasiveness of the problem and we all have a greater responsibility to the silent victims to keep this dialogue open. It’s not just pretty women in high-profile jobs who are victimized, although we do appreciate their coming forward to raise awareness for all women.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if 2018 became the historical tipping point for a complete reversal in attitudes toward women? Since the beginning of time, insecure men have suppressed the accomplishments of women in the workplace, at home, in sciences, arts, religion, literature, politics, financial institutions, business and every other area of life. Imagine what the world might look like today if women’s inventions, music, art and other accomplishments had been allowed to rise and see the light of day. Imagine religion without rigid patriarchy and how our spiritual lives might have benefited from leadership with equal input and participation by women. Lindy West articulated the effects of this systemic suppression eloquently in a recent Sunday New York Times essay as “the invisible ripples of confidence lost, jobs quit, careers stalled, women’s influence diminished, men’s power enhanced”. Well stated.

The tiny country of Iceland is a microcosm of what can happen when women take over. After decades of male leadership the country was poorly governed and broke. In 2008 the corrupt bankers were indicted (unlike in the United States where they were paid enormous bonuses for their corrupt practices) and banished to a remote prison away from their families. Women took over parliament and rebuilt the country’s economy which is now prospering. What would have happened on Wall Street if the testosterone-loaded financial decisions made behind the closed doors of the old boys’ clubs had been balanced with equal input by women. We can only speculate. If only those misogynistic old white men in Washington had taken Anita Hill’s accusations against Clarence Thomas seriously all those years ago, we’d be further along our continuum today.

Women and seniors have specific needs in relation to safety and convenience for public transit.

I would also like to suggest that such everyday things as public transit would be infinitely more efficient and productive if managed by women. There are so many financially challenged single mothers who depend on public transit to get to their underpaid jobs, who have insights SUV-driving men will never understand. Ancillary services like moving sidewalks, access and egress, lighting, security, train or bus connections that were more accommodating of strollers, wheelchairs, bundle buggies, small children and even fares would be better designed and more efficient. Women would be loathe to start wars; we have no interest in seeing our husbands, sons and daughters sent off to die for a slice of foreign dirt. We’d put the kettle on, make a large pot of tea or coffee, crack open a box of cookies and get down to the business of resolving our differences. The only boots on the ground would be suede or comfortable patent leather together under the kitchen table.

It’s tragic to think of the thwarted artwork, literature, scientific discoveries, medical advances, technological advances, community support programs and social services that might have improved our way of life if women had been allowed an equal voice over the centuries. We only won the right to vote within the last hundred years and are still fighting for pay equity and equal recognition in the workplace. The macro-level abuses are obvious but the smaller, everyday struggles by all women who do not have the visibility of a business executive, a celebrity or a politician need immediate and serious attention.  I’m haunted by the story told to me by a professional friend about someone she knows who is subjected to sexual abuse every day by her employer in her workplace.  The victim is an immigrant with poor English language skills working at a minimum wage job in a factory. She needs the pay cheque to feed and clothe her children. If she complains, she will be fired, and in another example of blaming the victim, because of her cultural background her husband will divorce her. There are thousands/millions of women like her and they need everyone’s help to overcome these abuses. They need our voices to be heard.

Abuse is not always physical and we must be vigilant for signs from those in need of help.

Domestic or sexual abuse is not about sex. It’s about power. Abusers bully others to exert power, often because they feel insecure or inferior themselves. It’s not complicated. Until we call out the bullies, make them accountable and change the current psychology, we cannot change the world. I’ve had to address some of my own prejudices and misconceptions on the issue. After a lifetime of conditioning on such concepts as ‘degrees of abuse’, I’m reconsidering many of my own positions and opinions. I once thought women who dressed provocatively were inviting trouble. I’ve now rethought that issue and realize that regardless of how a woman is dressed, no one has the right to attack or invade her personal space without her permission.

‘Locker room talk’ that demeans women is not funny. It’s disrespectful and perpetuates the negative psychology. It’s not always about physical or sexual abuse. Bullies have an entire arsenal of methods to attack the vulnerable including financial, verbal and emotional.  Many people, women, men, seniors, minorities, children, anyone can be the victim of abuse. We have an enormous job ahead of us and it would be wonderful to think we are witnessing the beginning of change. Centuries of suppression and oppression cannot be turned around overnight but we can take the first step in a journey of a thousand steps. We are not advocating against men, just the bullies. All women want is true equality and inclusion which benefits men and women. Now that the problem is out in the open we have to formulate a solution. I’m working on myself to better understand and advance women’s issues and as we go into the new year I hope that you will do the same.

Click here to read I’m a witch and I’m hunting you, an essay in the New York Times by Lindy West.

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