Laraine Newman

The First Puppy

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by Laraine Newman

portwaterdog.jpgDear Mr. President Elect Obama,

Senator Ted Kennedy, the Lion of the Senate, had the right idea.  As he convalesced on his boat in Hyannisport I saw him beckoning to his dog Splash, a Portuguese Water Dog.

If you’ve never heard of this breed, they have a remarkable story.

Bred as working dogs, they carried messages back and forth between boats for the Portuguese fisherman. But what was even more impressive was that they were trained to herd fish into the nets and could dive under water at considerable depths to retrieve tackle and pull the nets in.

This breed is very old and although they are often mistaken for Standard Poodles, Porties (as we owners like to call them) are the source of the Poodle breed. They can be black, brown or white with either a curly coat or a wavy coat. They have hair, not fur, and that’s why we have two of them.

The Little White Box

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by Laraine Newman

laraine_newman_cameo_lg.jpgwhitebox.jpgI’m sorry to say that my husband is much more romantic and sentimental than I am. He’s a better gift giver and a better surprise planner. That’s why I was completely unsuspecting when our family went to one of my favorite restaurants for Valentine’s Day several years ago.  I loved Prego, in Beverly Hills, and to use a quote from Jerry McGuire “they had me at the breadsticks”.

Another thing I should mention is I’m not much of a jewelry gal. I appreciate the beauty of it, but I can’t navigate decorative rings, necklaces and earrings.  I work too much with my hands and everything else is just a nuisance.

So, there we were, the four of us, actually dressed up nicely for a civilized evening out. The girls seemed agitated and I just chalked it up to the usual fussiness that stopped us from taking them out in the first place. When they were much younger they used to love The Daily Grille in Brentwood. 

Seder in Studio 8H

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by Laraine Newman

laraine_newman_cameo_lg.jpgabout_photo1.jpg It probably never would have happened had it not been for the fact that we were trapped in Studio 8H for camera blocking for hours on end which was business as usual.  A group of us were sitting around the Green Room, which was next to Lorne’s office on the 9th floor overlooking the studio stage.

This was where we took our meals between the dress rehearsal and the live show. It was also where we got notes and the chopping block for sketches. But you’d never know that kind of carnage took place at any other time in this unassuming spot. It was furnished with the kind of couches and chairs that said ‘we don’t give a crap about this late night summer replacement show, let’s give them the stuff we have in storage’. The color palate was ‘tan 70s vomit’.

In the room were Gilda Radner, Paul Schaffer, Cathy Vasapoli (Paul’s girlfriend, now, his wife) Marilyn Miller, Alan Zweibel, Al Franken, and me. We were all in varying stages of exhaustion (the writers, obviously, even more so) and were draped over the furniture like the kids in the “Going Steady” number from Bye Bye Birdie.

“Hey, isn’t it pasacccchhhhhhhhhh?” Zweibel asked, shredding his throat and getting the laugh his sacrifice deserved.

The Circle of Life

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by Laraine Newman

laraine_newman_cameo_lg.jpgbig3.jpg When I was little, I had absolutely no idea what Easter represented.  All I knew was it had something to do with Jesus and you got chocolate bunnies for it.  My neighbor, Rory McManus told me Jesus was always by your side.  I loved that idea. Here was a magical being who could witness all my acts of kindness and maybe I’d get a reward of some kind. I don’t know, maybe all the candy I wanted, or maybe I’d be the kind of “pretty” boys fought over.

There was so much about Easter to love. Spring for one thing. I loved that time of year because of the colors.  Spring is beautiful in Los Angeles.  Our street was endowed with bougainvillea in every imaginable variations of pink, yellow, orange, red and purple. The ritual of dying boiled eggs along with the smell of vinegar was intoxicating, and another thing that involved color.  Pleasing ones.  Pastel ones. The candy around Easter time was the best.  

Sampling

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by Laraine Newman

photo-175.jpg There’s a homeless woman I’ve seen from Santa Monica to West Hollywood for years. I know it’s the same woman. She’s unmistakable. Her hair is sun-bleached and looks like she put her finger into an electric socket. With sublime irony, she’s often in a flower patterned cocktail dress or shift. Her face is red, probably from the sun and alcohol, but it’s also pure unadulterated rage. Her lips are white with it and she rants constantly.

I’ve always imagined her condition was caused by the Chinese water torture of injustices suffered by the poor on a daily basis. The powerlessness. She makes direct eye contact with me every time I see her. I’m always driving, which is good, because she scares the shit out of me. I mention her because I feel the same sense of powerlessness about so many things in my rich life. The economy, the war, public education, most of all the environment. One of the many obvious results of this, aside from the biblical weather, is the gradual reduction in the amount of quality fruit.

 

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