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.

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terrasse1.jpg Around 6 years ago, our family took a trip to France. Our friends have a house in Ramtuelle, a Medieval city built in a circle overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean. Honest, it does sparkle. We frolicked on Pamelonne Beach, made famous by the production company filming And God Created Woman with Brigitte Bardot and we ate at Club Cinquante Cinque (55). 

You know how you often hear “oh, the restaurant’s right on the beach”? Well, Club Cinquante Cinque (55), really, really IS right on the beach. Sitting around a large table in the canvas-shaded patio of this beautiful place, we had no idea how hard it was to get a reservation. Our girls, aged 12 and 7, adapted to the lifestyle like seasoned European travelers.  The kids ate everything that came to the table. Fried smelt were eaten like potato chips…that is, until the real thing came along (one of the restaurant’s specialties). Lena and Hannah devoured catch of the day and seasonal vegetables such as artichokes without the usual suspicion, wrinkled noses and coaxing. Score! After 2 weeks in Ramatuelle, we went off to Paris. 

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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.

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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.

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phone.jpgWhen was it ok to just blithely accept that products are now engineered for obsolescence? Case in point: our stinkin’ Panasonic cordless phones!!!

We were perfectly happy with our KX-TGA650B Panasonic cordless phone when one day we found one of the handsets sprawled on the living room floor, like eviscerated lion prey. The antennae had been mangled by our dearly departed dog Satchmo. Here’s the evil part; not only had that model become obsolete, but once you’ve lost the use of one handset, you have to replace the whole effing system!

Now we have the Panasonic KX-TGA939T. We have 4 around the house and I hate it! The handset in my office, where I do all my work, is haunted. At first it was just an irritating quirk it had where if my ear was close enough to the receiver, my mouth wasn’t close enough for people to hear me and vice versa. So, my husband suggested I put all my calls on speaker. Personally, I think putting people on speaker makes everyone an automatic douche bag but what was I gonna do? And, it was no solution. The quality of the sound began to erode that way too!

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