Laraine Newman

What a Crock

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by Laraine Newman

jetsons.jpgThere are so many conveniences the Jetsons had that I could really use today. Jane Jetson had this thing that came down from the ceiling, encased her head and presto! New hairdo! I hate doing my hair. My bathroom has all kinds of gizmos with one purpose; to make my hair look cute. You can’t imagine the work that goes into that.

Flat irons, blow driers, round brushes, the Denman Brush, which is a plastic brush that grips the hair, pulling it taut, while I beam my Elcim blow drier at it. I blast it with the highest heat you can find on the market. God forbid there’s a hint of moisture in the air. My hair goes back to Israel before you can say Jiminy Cricket.

The conundrum of my hair is only surpassed by the puzzle of what to serve at the end of the day. The Jetsons had what really amounted to a microwave oven and TV dinners. I wouldn’t serve that even if I could.  This free-floating dilemma had me open my eyes one morning with what I thought would be the solution: A Slow Cooker! Yes! 

Vegan Schmegan

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by Laraine Newman

forks-over-knives.jpgThe venerable Dr. Soram Singh Khalsa is my physician and he puts out a newsletter that I subscribe to. His smiling bearded face crowned by the Sikhs Pagri is at the top of the page. That smile always makes me laugh because it reminds me of a little boy who is thrilled because the teacher he has a crush on just praised him.

Dr. Khalsa is one of the first people to start a crusade extolling the virtues of vitamin D. But recently I noticed a DVD on the page entitled Forks Over Knives.

I’ve always made fun of Vegans. It was a way for me to mask a mild contempt for what I deemed a ‘sissy diet’. I also didn’t want anyone telling me I had to limit meat, even though, after reading Fast Food Nation and seeing the movie with the same name, vastly different from the book but showing a graphic slaughterhouse sequence that haunts me to this day, my outlook on eating meat was never the same.

That’s why, for the life of me, I can’t tell you what made me order the DVD, but I did and I watched it. Its just pure common sense that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better. The less adulterated your food is, the more nutrition you’ll get from it. But this movie made a much more persuasive argument for eliminating meat as much as possible.

Holiday Catalogue Shopping

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by Laraine Newman

ImageTis the season of Catalogues and I was flipping through the Bed Bath and Beyond Catalogue and besides realizing that it's absorbed Sharper Image, I noticed that the Catalogue itself was pretty fuckin’ funny.

I’ve always assumed BB&B to be at least a step above Fly Mall and one that I believe might be local simply called Home Improvement. Both these catalogues have the kind of products you can easily imagine being pitched and approved on those ‘invention’ game shows. Like the device that bores through the center of a piece of candy to determine what’s inside. If it turns out to be something disgusting, like marzipan, you can just place the perfectly shaped plug you drilled back into the candy, warm it with your fingers and nobody’s the wiser. Genius!

So, when I was going through my BB&B today, I never expected to see ads for ‘ladies leggings’ (no possessive apostrophe for the ‘s’) Meant, I’m sure, to look like a segment of a Rockette’s line of disembodied legs, it resembled more an ad for the movie Human Centipede. This is a movie, which only warrants the trailer, but basically people are connected face to anus. On the opposite page was the Rechargeable Mangroomer. A do-it-yourself back hair shaver. It’s fully adjustable and extendable fellas. I hope it comes with a do-it-yourself first aid kit.

Thank You Gwyneth

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by Laraine Newman

goop_header.jpg For years, as both my husband Chad’s and my weight have yo yo’d, I’ve begged him to diet along with me but we’ve never been able to be in sync with our willingness to trudge the road of deprivation. Until now. We email each other from different rooms in the house. (And they say Great Britain is in danger of having the laziest people in the world). The subject line in his email to me read: “yes, or no”.

It had a link to a newsletter called Goop, written by Gwyneth Paltrow. I know most so- called “celebrity diets” have to bear up under a lot of scrutiny. After all, what qualifies someone like Marilu Henner to give herself the moniker of “health pioneer” when her children’s cookbook, in the words of health writer Sally Fallon, “contain guidelines that are more likely to produce a variety of pathologies, including some kinds of eating disorders…”?

Well, Gwyneth merely presents what she’s learned from Dr. Alejandro Junger, a cardiologist and ‘leader in the field of integrative medicine’. I’ve never heard the term ‘integrative medicine’ but it seems remarkably intuitive in the context of wellness.

Also, this program is not a diet. It’s a Cleanse.

Cooking Light

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by Laraine Newman

betty-boop--sunbathing-boop.jpgYou know how sometimes you come across something that reminds you that you used to do things right? I saw the magazine Cooking Light , a magazine I used to have a subscription to and I remembered that I used to make more of an effort. And now, here it is, summer, the time when everyone wants to take off the pounds so they can fit into their bathing suits (not me, of course, because I wouldn’t dream of letting anyone see how my fat has decided to distribute itself these days) and I’m contemplating all the wonderful American food I can make and eat for the 4th of July. Macaroni and Cheese. Hot Dogs. Hamburgers. Potato Salad. 

There was a time when I wouldn’t have considered eating some of them and if so, I would search for a palatable recipe that was a lighter version of that particular traditional indulgence. Then, I rebelled. “Diet food? I don’t need no steenkin’ diet food!” My big complaint about light products is some replacement ingredients tend to be sweet. Light mayonnaise is sweet, light salad dressing is sweet…these products are supposed to be savory, damnit!

Chicken Fried Cheer

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by Laraine Newman

nhscc.jpglaraine newman cameoThe first weekend in January, I went with my daughter Hannah to a National High School Cheerleading Championship in Dallas, Texas. In the cheer world, just the mention of Texas would be accompanied by the crash of cymbals or a chorus of angel’s voices. The competition facing our Beverly Hills High School team was experienced and they meant business. Mainly from places like Oklahoma and Texas, these teams came from a cheer ‘culture’. Our team, with the exception of a few kids with All Star backgrounds, didn’t know from that. Many of them didn’t know the difference between cheering a football game and the kind of showmanship that wins you points on the National level. That was key.

The event was held at The Dallas Convention Center, so, I’d say the expression on the kids’ faces the first day they walked out on the mat and heard that roar from the audience was an amalgam of ‘deer in the headlights” meets “fuck yeah!”

Initially, when one enters the arena, you’re assaulted with the cheer music mixes which all have that pounding beat, then it suddenly drops out for the school to do their cheer, then it explodes back on for the last portion of the routine which is a dance that looks like it’s in fast motion, but it’s not. I have to admit, for the years my daughter has been doing this, I’ve always loved this part. It’s just downright thrilling, there’s no two ways about it.

Lucky Peach

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by Laraine Newman

lucky-peach-4-thumbMy husband used to quote his Turkish grandpa Bernie about the secret to creating a successful business. Something about finding a gap in the market; a service that is needed but hasn’t been provided…yet.

I think the good folks at McSweeney’s probably took a page from Bernie’s notebook when they dreamed up Lucky Peach Magazine because the world certainly needed an in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, fuck-you, let’s see you do micro-gastronomy recipes at home you sorry bastards, food publication.

To give you some idea of the subversive nature of this thing, the cover of Issue Number 4 has a cow being fed a hot dog!

This would be The American Food Issue and it opens with a pretty dang funny apology from David Chang, renowned chef/owner of The Momofuku Restaurant Group. The deliciously ironic tone of the letter does more to promote the new wave image of today’s young chefs than any of the spiky-haired, contest winning, road tripping drunken loudmouths you find on the Food Network.

I wish I knew more about art so I could convey the style of the magazine’s graphics. The photographs are gorgeous and there’s a sense of humor infused in every aspect of it’s content. Jonathan Waxman’s Fried Chicken is presented simply with images and arrows pointing to the next step. Good for toddlers and, well, me.

Live from New Orleans, It's Saturday Night

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by Laraine Newman

french-quarter.jpgI was excited. As the limousine was speeding along the freeway that lead into the city of New Orleans, it occurred to me that for the first time in my life, I was in ‘the south’. That represented so many things to me, but I was determined to focus less on the “They call me Mr.Tibbs” of it all and more on the bodice tearing romance of The Vampire Lestat.

My hotel was nothing less than gothic. So old, that there was no elevator, the doorframes were small and the stairways were warped, no doubt from years of flooding. That’s not to say it was decrepit. It was grand. My room was huge. It was the corner of the entire building. Wood paneling everywhere and heavy red velvet drapes adorned the 4 sets of double doors that spanned the front and far wall. The room faced the street and there was a wrought iron balcony that wrapped around it.

My bathroom had a sunken tub.  Franken and Davis’ room was next to mine and the door that would have separated us was too warped to close. Ahem. Much has been written about this time. One of the more memorable things for me was when Danny (Aykroyd), John (Belushi), John Head, Michael O’Donoghue, Anne Beatts and me were all crammed into a car headed out to a blues club we’d heard about.  It turned out to be reggae. We left.

Kids Say The Darndest Things

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by Laraine Newman

laraine_newman_cameo_lg.jpgart_linkletter_album.jpg When I was 4 years old I was on Kids Say The Darndest Things with Art Linkletter. My folks told me the teacher in our Nursery School recommended me. When I think about the fact that I once called her ‘fatso’ just to try out the word, nothing personal, and she got so mad she locked me in a broom closet, I’m ever convinced of the altruism of teachers.

I told some outstanding whoppers to Art Linkletter and my lies are preserved in perpetuity on a 78 recording that was issued to each family along with a Tiny Tears doll for the girls. This thrilled me no end. 

Prodigal Latke

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by Laraine Newman

box8.jpglaraine_newman_cameo.jpgI’m a California Jew. If one were to compare ethnicity in terms of packaging, we’d be ‘plain wrap’. Both my folks were Jewish, but Mom was an Atheist and Dad, well,  he grew up in the little town of Chloride Arizona and  Grandpa Harry was the Sheriff.  Once, when I was a kid, I brought a stray cat into the house. Dad hated cats. The center of his face turned purple with rage. “You git that ornery varmint outta here!”  Get the picture?

Then I met my salt of the earth, “Philly bro” husband who promised his father on his deathbed that he’d have his kids bar/bat mitzvah’d, what the fuck was I gonnna do?


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