alexandra alger


The Tooth Fairy’s Wad of Cash


Look whaI found—

I can’t remember what happened to her tooth…was it the one she swallowed? We told her the Tooth Fairy was just as happy with a picture as the real tooth. Oh, the magic of it all! Going to sleep with a tiny blood-crusted tooth under your pillow (or a picture thereof) and waking up to find one or two shiny quarters in its place. The Tooth Fairy never left much more than that, maybe a dollar at the most.

This was a while back, a decade or so. How much do kids get now, I wondered. It didn’t take long for me to discover that the Tooth Fairy’s is quite a bit more generous these days. In 2014, a writer named Michael Hingston, citing Visa research in, wrote that the kids were waking up to an average of $3.70, up 40% from 2011. That’s some serious tooth inflation.
Is the Tooth Fairy some kind of fat cat now, sporting rolls of bills that she peels out at the bedside? I did a quick check on recent picture books on the Tooth Fairy, just to see if she’s being imagined any differently. I didn’t find much, to my surprise. One book caught my eye: The Berenstain Bears and the Tooth Fairy, published in 2012. I love the B. Bears! And guess what, it’s all about what a tooth’s worth.

Sister Bear gets a quarter for her tooth, and she’s happy until she learns her friend Lizzy got a whole dollar for hers. Sister’s indignant (naturally): How come the Tooth Fairy gave her so much less? “Sometimes the price of things goes up, like gas,” Papa muses. “Maybe the same thing happens with teeth.” Sister hopes so. Sure enough, the next time she loses a tooth, the TF leaves a crisp dollar bill under her pillow. Papa, the price of gas may go up and down, but the price for a tooth? It’s only going one way.

Campaign calling…better late than never

I went over to the Hillary Clinton campaign office and made calls yesterday afternoon. I’ve been wanting to volunteer for…oh, months, but I kept putting it off. Because I know what campaign volunteer work primarily entails—calling people on the phone. Calling strangers who don’t want to talk to you. Bothering people in their homes. I cringe at the idea of making these kinds of calls, because—I’ll be honest—I hate getting them myself. “Hate” is too strong a word; I’m extremely impatient having to deal with strangers who want something from me. Mostly they are asking for money. I’ve gotten a lot of calls from various Democratic party entities, because I’ve given money to Hillary. I say, no, I don’t give money over the phone (true), but I’m often abrupt, not always friendly. So I cringe at the specter of my being one of those bothersome folks on the other end of the line. Also—to be more honest—I have this thing about wanting people to like me. Even people who don’t know me and can’t even see me and for whom I am simply a voice that enters their consciousness for a fraction of time.

With only 25 days to go until election day, it was now or never. I If I had to make calls, so be it. I had to do something to help Hillary beat the living nightmare that isTrump.

Sure enough: my assignment was to call Suffolk County voters to ask them if they’d decided whom they would be voting for in November, and if they were Hillary supporters, if they would be interested in volunteering. That was it. I wasn’t asking for money. Excellent. I took a deep breath and punched in the first number on my list. (I used a Hillary campaign flip phone—it was good to see she wasn’t wasting my campaign contribution on fancy equipment.) No one picked up. Many people weren’t home or weren’t picking up. In quite a few cases, the number I had was disconnected. After a dozen or so of such calls, it occurred to me that I had chosen a shift in which I was unlikely to reach many people—Friday 5 pm to 7 pm. Was this my subconscious looking out for me? I got a few men who were voting for Hillary and weren’t at all offended that I’d called. I started to relax—a bit. I talked to a woman who didn’t want to say she whom she was voting for. “Would you consider volunteering for Hillary?” I asked daringly. Of course, she responded no—but again, she didn’t seem to mind the question. I was starting to think I was cautiously starting to believe I was having a real breakthrough when an undecided voter caused me to have a brain freeze. He said he just hadn’t decided, and he was going to wait until he saw the last debate before deciding. He was Indecision incarnate; he needed me to help decide, I could hear it in his voice. But I panicked. My script told me to give him some examples of what I liked about Hillary—I went blank. I wanted to say, “You can’t possibly vote for Trump, he’s horrible,” but obviously that would’ve been inappropriate (for a Clinton supporter—Trump’s volunteer script probably reads, “You can’t vote for Crooked Hillary, she’s a liar and belongs in jail.”) I remembered my sister converted a waiter she met at a party. What was her argument? I couldn’t think. “You can go to and look at her platform,” I said weakly. I got off feeling like a total failure. And guess what—all of a sudden I wanted a chance to do better. To convert an undecided voter. I’m going to make more calls, from home. Turns out anyone can do this virtually, by going to Want to join me?

Harvesting the Kids



I’ve been trying to think of a replacement for the term “empty nester.” Which I now am, with my youngest recently off to college. I have nothing against “Empty Nest Syndrome.” It’s a catchy name for a real condition.

But people are using “empty nester” simply to describe someone whose kids are grown.
“How do you like being an empty nester?” Neighbors and friends ask me, in the same cheery way they might say, “How was your weekend?” I say that all’s well—of course, I miss Vanessa, and yes, the house does seem quiet—and incredibly neat—without any children around, etc. etc. The conversation moves on, just as it would if we were talking about the weekend, unless the other person is an empty nester, too, in which case I’ll get comforting words about how must fun empty nesting is.

OMG, it’s a verb, too!

The image of the mama bird sitting morosely in her sad egg-less nest. That’s not me.

There has to be a cooler metaphor, involving—animals. But I’ve been mentally flipping through animal lairs, and…hmm. Bear caves? Do bears actually live in caves? Rabbit burrows? Dens? “Den’s empty” definitely makes sense, and it’s even true. No teenagers are slobbing up the place. I was starting to see why “nest” was the obvious choice for whomever coined the syndrome decades ago. We all know what a nest is, and can picture it.

I thought I had an epiphany in August, when I spent four days biking through the vineyards of Chianti and Montalcino in Italy. “The grapes have been harvested,” I thought—our kids started out as grapes, and now they’re on their way to becoming a velvety wine. I’m not an empty nester, I’m a harvester.

Harvester! To the question “How are the kids?” I’d say, “They been harvested.” People could ask, “So how did the harvest go?” And I could say, “Good. It’s all done.”

Back in New York, amid the concrete and asphalt, it all sounded a bit out of keeping. A bit too …agricultural. My sister liked it, but her kids are in middle school—what does she know?

Then I had it—free agent. Free agent! “The feminists might take issue with that,” said my mom, a ’70s feminist (sort of). If Gloria Steinem ever talked about free agency, it didn’t ring a bell. But then I suddenly remembered there was a very common sports meaning for “free agent.”

I’ll do some “harvester” polling among my ED friends. And I’ll keep brainstorming. My younger friends will thank me.

Okay, Fine. It’s Worth Reading.



The plot finally kicked in for me, and once it did, I tore through the last two-thirds of Cursed Child. I’m in the mood to talk details here, so if you haven’t read the script but plan to, stop here!

Rowling and co-writers (mainly Rowling?) came through with a satisfying take on the Potter crew one generation later. It doesn’t have the sprawl and heft that a Book 8 would surely have; it’s missing a few vital characters (Hagrid! and, um, Voldemort); nonetheless I found myself admiring, as always, Rowlings’ storytelling genius.

I had trouble focusing at first (you know this, if you’ve read my earlier post). There were disturbing oddities, like Ron’s becoming a goofy, hapless adult. More problematic, I had trouble warming up to the two young heroes. In theory, what could be more interesting: the offspring of Harry and Draco, best friends! And in Slytherin together! Poor Albus is lousy at spells and flying. He’s almost obligated to hate Quidditch, and he does. He sees himself as the disappointing son—the “spare,” as he calls himself, using Voldemort’s word for Cedric Diggory. (Harry’s first born, James, and the youngest, Lily, are “easy” children.) Scorpius struggles not as much because of his own dad— though Draco is chilly and removed—than because everyone at Hogwarts believes a rampant rumor that he’s the secret son of Voldemort. I should’ve been brimming with compassion for these boys, but exasperated was more like it. I wanted to tell them to stop sniveling, to stop worrying about what their dads thought of them and to get a life! Rowling et al. expect us to appreciate the irony of Albus’ predicament—he has the family and love his father yearned for, but he’s miserable being his father’s son. It’s right up Rowling’s alley, this kind of emotional messiness but—there’s no time for depth. It’ll all telling instead of showing.

SCORPIUS: I know the—Voldemort thing isn’t—true—and—you know—but sometimes, I think I can see my dad thinking: How did I produce this?

ALBUS: Still better than my dad. I’m pretty sure he spends most of his time thinking: How can I give him back? (p. 81)

Going back in time to save Cedric Diggory from a brutal death was something, anyway. It’s a decision full of self-pity—awww, the spare wants to save the original spare—but any action is welcome at this point. Albus and Scorpius’ plan begins with a time-honored tradition: Polyjuicing in order to sneak into the Ministry, in this case to steal the Time-Turner from the office of the Minister for Magic, our own Hermione Granger.

They manage it far too easily, if you ask me. They know just where it is, and there’s no doubt they’ll find it, even if they do have to fight off a few enchanted books first. And if they’re caught? They don’t even worry about getting into trouble—that’s how ho-hum that trouble could be. An angry parent? What else is new? For the original trio, sneaking into the Ministry was a life-or-death affair once the Death Eaters took over. Think of the time they stole in to steal back Regulus Black’s locket from the horrible Dolores Umbridge, and Hermione, disguised as a low-level Ministry witch, is dragged into a Muggle-denouncing proceeding to act as Umbridge’s secretary. The three of them barely escape, with Hermione only at the last second able to shake off Death Eater Yaxley.

The clash of good and evil—that’s what’s missing in the first half of the script. There’s a specter of evil. Harry has disturbing dreams and wakes up with his scar hurting and the voice of Voldemort hissing his name. Haaarry Pottttter….I’m sure this was supposed to send shivers down my spine. It seemed hokey, though. I was unmoved until Albus succeeds in his mission, and in an instant disappears from the world, having altered time in the worst possible way. Voldemort doesn’t die—Harry does. Which means Albus himself doesn’t exist.

Page 159, halfway through. This is when I thought: Rowling is baaack.

Who hasn’t wondered what would’ve happened had Voldemort lived? Rowling seized upon the most compelling what-if of all. Here’s where I finally began to respect Scorpius, who’s left alone to figure out how to restore the post-Voldemort present and bring back his best friend. It’s clear once and for all that he’s too decent to be a Death Eater—he’s horrified at the cruel, Muggle-torturing world he’s trapped in. He ably takes on the hero role and proves himself much like Harry did time and time again (oddly, he’s more Harry-like than Albus is).

Of course, he’s got an easier time of it than Harry, because he knows everything about the past he’s entered. He knows to go to Snape for help—Snape, alive and well—as well Hermione and Ron, the last existing members of Dumbledore’s Army. These were my favorite moments: When three characters we know intimately from Book 1 to 7 meet, in an alternate past, a Voldemort-ruling past, a boy they think they know but they don’t, because he’s from an alternate future. It’s so crazy and mind-warping!

The whole Delphi-Augurey development was a delightful surprise—I didn’t for a moment suspect she was anything but what she was. She’s far from being a Voldemort replacement, though. I hoped he’s make an appearance at the end, when Harry and the gang are waiting to intercept Delphi in Godric’s Hollow. Instead of Harry v. Voldemort, Round 2, we get Harry disguised as Voldemort. “Horrendous,” the script notes read. Not for me, knowing that he’s just Harry. I can see reasons for keeping Voldemort out of the action. His and Harry’s history would swamp every other dynamic in the play. The scene as is brings in Albus to fight on the side of his dad, which honestly is hard to imagine against the real Voldy.

I have to grudgingly admit that whatever I might find lacking in the script, I can see it as the basis for a riveting theatrical production. I’d love to see how a set designer would create the Forbidden Forest; the Dementors; the fight against Delphi. With the play a sold-out success in London, it’s sure to come to New York. It could travel the globe eventually.

It’ll probably be turned into a movie. Don’t you think? We may well see it on the screen before we see it on the stage.

I hope Robert Patterson is free to play Cedric.

A few random thoughts and quibbles.

Who’d have thunk it:

Draco—wiser than Harry when he urges Harry to see that Albus needs him and Scorpius. A lonely child, like Tom Riddle and Draco himelf, lives in a dark place

Moms are a big deal in the books, but not here. Fierce, self-confident Ginny has virtually no role. She could be whited out and no one would miss her.


When Albus is Polyjuiced into Ron at the Ministry and tries to distract Hermione by suggesting they have another baby—“Or if not another baby, a holiday. I want a baby or a holiday and I’m going to insist on it. Shall we talk about it later, honey?”

Moaning Myrtle, as always. Flirty Myrtle acts as if Harry and Draco visited her bathroom only yesterday. “Hello, Harry. Hello, Draco. Have you been bad boys again?”

Biggest beef:

Where’s Hagrid? We see him in two flashbacks but never in the present. No wonder Albus is such a sad sack–no Hagrid to cheer him up. Could he have retired?


Cursed child–Harry, Albus, Scorpius? Every child who has issues with Dad/Dad figure? The unknown kid in the cover image?

What on earth is that cover image? A nest with owl wings?


Curses, Child!

Here we are, a week after I was supposed to have bought the Cursed Child and devoured it in one euphoric sitting. By now I should been well into the Joan Mitchell biog. I picked up from the library, even with time allowed to re-read favorite parts of CS.

Somehow, once I’d decided to postpone buying the book, I forgot to buy it all together. I forgot to write it down. It’s been true for quite some time now: If I don’t write a thing down, it doesn’t exist. I can’t say when I would’ve remembered had I not passed the wonderful Books of Wonder on 18th Street and seen Cursed Child in the window.

This was Wednesday. Lunchtime. I sat in the kitchen with some leftover pasta carbonara and open the book. For a few pages, it read more or less the way I thought it would, picking up the last chapter of Deathly Hallows. It was strange to see paragraphs winnowed into one-line bits of dialogue. Right, this was a script—a “Special Rehearsal Edition Script,” as the cover trumpets. (I could imagine the marketing meeting about the cover design. “Is there any other kind of script?” someone asked. “No.” The presenter, standing with a huge full-screen mockup. “It just sounds good. I mean, come on—it’s the eighth Harry Potter book! If that isn’t special, I don’t know what is.”)

But it wasn’t Deathly Hallows, in play form. Not for long. Page 10: Ron greets his niece Lily Potter with a…trick. Huh?

“RON: Are you aware of the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes-certified nose-stealing breath?

ROSE: Mum! Dad’s doing that lame thing again.”

Lame is right. Why is Ron doing lame jokes? He was never funny, like George and Fred—not intentionally, anyway. Is this the hand of Jack Thorne, the playwright?

Anyway. We’re still in Hallows territory. Albus get on the Hogwarts Express, with Rose, Ron and Hermione’s daughter. They’re looking for somewhere to sit. Remember Harry’s first trip? Rose does. She reminds Albus that his dad and her parents met on that first train. To my dismay, Rose reveals herself to be a terrible snob from the get-go—she wants to find just the right people to sit with, the ones deserving of being friends with the children of Harry, Ron and Hermione. But Albus ends up wanting to sit with—

All right. I’m not going to give anything away. Just in case you find the first part more riveting than I did. I found I was perfectly capable of putting the book down after lunch, and not looking at it again until I was in bed. At which point I read only a few pages before my eyes grew heavy. I put the book down and fell asleep. No all-nighter for me!

Michiko—how could you steer me so wrong?

I’m sorely missing Rowling’s voice. And her world building. And character development. I wonder why she didn’t just write this as a novel?

Well. I need to finish it before I say anything more. I’m on page 94—about a third of the way through. I’m going to try to get a chunk read this weekend.

The Harry Potter All-nighter


The night Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows was released I stayed up ’til 5 am reading feverishly. Like a vampire, my time would be up come morning. I was going to have to hand it over to my son, who waiting eagerly for me to pick him up at sleep-away camp. (It never occurred to me to buy two copies. I’d like to say it’s because of how deeply I believe in sharing, but it has more to do with my Puritan  horror of excess and lack of discipline. What–buy TWO books, just because I can’t for my turn?)

Is there another all-nighter in my future? The New York Times most senior book reviewer, the august Michiko Kakutani, is calling Cursed Child “a compelling, stay-up-all-night read.”

Now I’m not a rabid follower of Michiko or anything. I respect her. She’s not a gusher. She seems more inclined to hate something than love it. For Michiko to say a work is “compelling,” is astonishing enough. If she’d said it was compelling and stopped there, I’d go ahead with my plan to buy the book (script, rather) today.

But she’s saying it’s so incredible, I’m gonna be up all night reading it. And because she’s baldly saying this–could it be the first time Michiko’s ever called a book a stay-up-all-nighter?–I believe it. I feel the truth of it. On the one hand, I’m thrilled, as every Harry Potter fan has to be, that the script is so gripping. But man oh man–do I want to be up all night tonight? I’m nine years older than I was when Deathly Hallows came out. Do I have the stamina? Do I even have the will? (She whines. I know, nine years older and whinier.) I know if I buy it, I won’t have a choice. I’ll be up all night. Unless I ran out and bought it right now. Then I’d have to forgo the writing and research I was going to do this afternoon. I don’t have quite as much Puritan self-discipline as I like to give myself credit for.

I should wait for the weekend. Yes. Buy it Friday. If I stay up all night Friday, I can sleep in Saturday. Perfect.

Do I really have to wait ’til Friday, though?

Yes. I do. It’s not as if I don’t have anything to read. I’m going to finish Ian McEwan’s The Children Act (it’s absorbing enough). I’m not going to the bookstore.

Good. I’ve decided. A good decision. Right.


Harry Potter!

Harry Potter’s back! Behold the window display in my local independent bookstore for a midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.


A release party! Just like the good old days, when J.K. Rowling produced her seven Harry books ever year or so, starting in 1998 (stunning, given how long and complex the later books were). My bookstore, Bookcourt, has clearly been missing those years. “Costumes welcome!” the handwritten sign (so Mugglish) reads. “Butterbeer! Get sorted into your Hogwarts house! Make your own wand at Ollivander’s!”

I have to admit I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the news about a Harry Potter play opening in London. I’d gotten the Amazon emails, trumpeting my chance to pre-order the script. “Why would I want to read a play script,” I grumbled to myself. I’m as big a Harry fan as the next person—which is to say big—but this just seemed like a massive, cynical marketing ploy Why would Rowling write a play when she could write a novel? The play couldn’t be any good. Well. it’s rave review in today’s New York Times changed my mind about that. The review tried not to give too much away—in keeping with the level of secrecy that Rowling always insists on prelaunch, quite rightly—and I know just enough to know I’m going to have to buy this damn thing, a “rehearsal edition script,” whatever that is. After all, I won’t be getting over to London anytime soon. (The play is reportedly sold out until next May.) When’s that release party again?

I have fond memories of going to a midnight bookstore party for the seventh and last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. My husband and I were in Hanover, N.H.,  spending the night before picking our son up from camp the next day. It was the night be before  would be released–and of course, we didn’t know the title then, we didn’t know anything. The Hanover book store was having a release party at midnight. We went with another couple, friends who were  picking up their son at the same camp. The bookstore was packed, of course. I remember being pushed backward by the crowd. I was resigned to waiting many hours before being able to buy a book, when all of a sudden our friends–tall and determined–pushed their way to the front of the line and bought a book for all of us. Heroes!  I remember reading late into to night, and having trouble rousing myself for the trip to camp. When we got there, our son took possession of the book, and for days afterward, I waited impatiently for him to go to sleep at night. There was no other time for me to read, except when he was in bed. My longing to get on with the book drove me to distraction. But we did end up sharing the book,  the three of us, Dan, my son and I. For some reason, it never occurred to us to buy more than one book. No, there was one, and it was precious.

How nice it would to have that feeling again! And maybe I will.






I participated in a four-day picture-book boot camp at the Highlights Foundation last weekend. Days later, I’m still sifting through my thoughts about the whole experience, what I learned, and what I had to relearn.

There were twenty of us, all author-illustrators save for four –five?–who were writers only. The whole weekend, I thought of myself as “just” a writer, a lesser person, frankly, than these extraordinary individuals who could tell a story both in words and pictures. Honestly, I’d never recognized how much work goes into the pictures alone.



The Highlights campus lies in bucolic northeastern Pennsylvania, ten miles from the town of Honesdale,  home of the Highlights magazines for kids. Here’s the barn, where we met for meals and had many of our critique sessions. It really reminded me of the lodge of my summer camp, Green Cove, down in North Carolina. The food was much better, though. The food was astoundingly good. Everything was from a farmer’s market. Eggs  and sweet New Jersey blueberries at breakfast; homemade soups and salad and hearty breads at lunch; for some reason I’m blanking on the dinners, but they were delicious, too. And with all that,  because we are children’s writers, after all, we could have ice cream anytime we wanted. That’s right. Highlights has an ice-cream bar. With sprinkles. Two kinds. You’re searching for the Highlights schedule right now, aren’t you?


Most of us stayed in individual cabins like this. Simple inside, with two single beds, a dresser, a small desk, a mini fridge (with seltzer and sodas inside–a thoughtful touch). Here are three of our talented group–from left to right Merrill Rainey, Kristen Bannister and Sabina Hahn. I feel sure you’ll be seeing their names in print at some point soon. It’s a funny thing, how quickly  strangers can bond when they have a common goal. We were all there to polish a particular work, and we were all eager to share it with our own kind. We were members of a tribe coming together for the first time.


I worship the faculty–four noted author-illustrators,  Pat Cummings, Denise Fleming, Steve Light and Floyd Cooper. Here’s Steve in the Barn, talking about his career. My photo’s crummy, but note the fantastic ink illustration on the screen. Each one of them gave me something valuable to think about.

The crux of the weekend was a 15-minute meeting, for each of us, with a publishing trio: an editor, an agent and an art director. Of course, we were all incredibly nervous. And hopeful; a few of us had agents or books already out, but most (like me) were looking for their big break. I was pitching a biography that I thought was compelling, naturally.

It wasn’t for them. So be it. I did get some feedback I can run with,  having to do with digging more deeply into my character. That rang true to me, and that’s what I’m working on now.

Other boot-camp takeaways:

  1. Make a dummy for every revision. I mean writers–it’s obvious that author-illustrators need to make them. A dummy magically reveals where the story falters or where it needs more room–it’s astonishing. I knew this, and yet had managed to arrive at boot camp without a dummy for my manuscript. Denise Fleming, bless her, had a pile of ready-mades ones that she’d brought for us. ( I think she said she’d stitched them on a sewing machine. She’s amazing.) Once I’d put mine together, I saw all kinds of possibilities I hadn’t before.
  2. Make your writing irresistible to read out loud. Punch up the text. Shorten sentences, use lively verbs.  Cut out any “then”s. (This last was Floyd’s pet peeve, and for good reason. A “then” is usually a sign of flabby writing.)
  3. Stay true to your idea, and to your writing, but keep an eye on the realities of the marketplace. Some ideas aren’t going to lead to a book deal. Which leads to….
  4. It’s not you it’s me: Editors’s decisions are subjective. They like what they like, and sometimes they don’t want things for reasons that are entirely personal. As Pat put it, in her inimitable way, if you’re pitching a cat book to an editor who was mauled by a cat as a child, that editor isn’t going to want your book, no matter how good it is. Knowing this doesn’t prevent the sucker punch of rejection, but it’s something.

I know my group of boot campers is hard at work right now, using the ideas and inspiration from the weekend. A few are already starting to submit. One may well have a contract (I’m waiting for confirmation).  I salute this talented bunch!  In one or two year’s time, boot campers’ will have books on sale. Fingers crossed.





A Brooklyn Walk

I was walking home from the southern end of Hicks Street, where I’d taken my car for an inspection, when a bridge appeared in front of me–a metal pedestrian bridge that stretched over the busy four lanes of two-way traffic. In two decades of driving up and down Hicks, I’d never registered the existence of this bridge. Which is really strange, but there it was. Of course, I had to walk across it. Here’s the view north:


And to the east:



There’s nothing like a bridge for a new perspective. Walking on the other side of Hicks now, I passed a slim hardback book sitting on top of a garbage bin.



Will do, I thought. I picked up the book. I was fated to take it, wasn’t I? When I saw it was written by a Google engineer, I decided against it. I wasn’t going to assign Google the power of the universe. Enough already. But I admired the contrast of the vibrant blue against the battered wood. It’s a Brooklyn tradition, to leave books outside for others to take. Granted, most of the books are old, quirky or obscure titles that no one else wants either, but the impulse is nice, I’ve always thought.



Taking Sackett Street east, I passed this evocative painting hanging in a window and realized I knew the painter: Ken Rush, who taught art for many years at my children’s primary and middle school, Packer. What an oddly satisfying 10-minute walk, which began with something new and ended with a memory from the past.

L.A. Story

In Los Angeles for two days, there was time for only the highlights of the sprawling city–food, art and beach. Heavenly fare at Gjelina, not too far from the Getty Center (and we glimpsed Christoph Walz, of Quentin Tarantino’s must-see films, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, having lunch with his wife and a son ). Also tasty: Norah, in West Hollywood (I feel kind of cool being able to throw around “West Hollywood,” as if I know what I’m talking about) and Otium, next to The Broad museum. You’re now starting to get a sense of our schedule: Museum in the morning, then satisfying lunch with some kind of alcoholic elixir. Brilliant combo, which leaves the rest of the day pleasantly open to aimless wandering. The distance between areas of interest are usually enough to discourage concentrated site seeing.

A few things I love about L.A.:


That you can find a exterior museum view as breathtaking as anything inside. This is from the Getty Center.


This, too. And:





At The Broad, Robert Therrien’s big table and chairs!


Without warning: beautiful cacti.


Paparazzi! They look like something…out of a movie! Here hanging outside of Craig’s restaurant on Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood. They shrugged when we asked who they were waiting for. “David Spade’s inside,” one offered. David Spade…who knew he was still famous?


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