Archive for the ‘Feature article’ Category

A high definition recording of speech showing vocal fry at the end.

A high definition recording of speech showing vocal fry at the end.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor Blogfinger.net. 2/5/21.  (Original post 2013; update 2017)


Did you ever notice the bizarre manner of speech adopted by young women and girls lately?   It actually is a speech pattern that has evolved from what used to be called “valley girl speech” in the 1980’s. That pattern mostly consisted of “uptalk” where the voice rises at the end of a sentence, making a statement into a sort of question.

In 2013, this phenomenon has evolved to consist of several components, but the most annoying is “vocal fry” where the pitch drops and growls, mostly at the end of sentences.  The other variations include the use of “like” punctuating every few words, but guys do that too.  Here is a video that discusses vocal fry on the Today show.


Some say that only “old guys” find this sort of speech to be ridiculous, but there are women who dislike it as well. I began to notice it a couple of years ago and, for some reason, found it obnoxious and irritating. At first it seemed like a way of talking used only by dopey teenage girls, but recently I have noticed it being paraded on TV and radio by otherwise intelligent and accomplished women.

At first I thought, “She needs to see a speech coach, because it is so distracting.”

And then I would wonder, “Is she going to talk like this for the rest of her life?    Did she actually go on a job interview speaking like that?”

But then I thought, “I’m just too sensitive as to how people speak—-get over it.”

However it turns out that many people have noticed this trend in female vocalizing, and some experts have written about it and some have found redeeming value to this style of speech.

Most observers have a negative view, while some talk about how anyone’s speech can be changed, for example by moving to the south and then saying, “Y’all.”  So girls hear their friends talking this way, or hear  Brittney Spears sing this way, or hear women on TV such as the Kardashians  (whoever they are.)

By the way, starting sentences with the word “so” is also getting to be a common speech technique to give the impression that the speaker is merely continuing a conversation that has already begun or introducing a new topic.  So I do it myself and find it to be a useful communication method, but now I have to stop it because it is becoming omnipresent and sloppily used.

A related manner of speech is to start a sentence with “and.”   Below is a  song by Barry Manilow (“When October Goes”)   It starts with “…and when October goes..”   The lyrics are by Johnny Mercer, one of the best lyricists ever.   And, you know, starting that song with “and” really does work—I like it that way.   OK OK, saying “you know” is also obnoxious…ya know what I’m saying?  And so is “like” as in “this article is like getting boring already.”

So I guess it’s good that language changes, otherwise we all would be speaking like Willie Shakespeare.  (What? You don’t think they had nicknames in the 16th century?   Getouttahere.!)

Here are some related links:

2011 Journal of Voice:


2012 NY Times article on female speech

Vocal fry in the NY Times 2012

2015  NPR  on female speech patterns:


2020:  And here is the latest   (below link), but this article  could drive you to drink or to speak in a falsetto, like Frankie Lymon who did that while asking the eternal question :  “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”    If you are a obsessive compulsive type who can’t get enough of vocal fry, try clicking on this, but you will be sorry!  —-PG:   “enuf awready.”

What is Vocal Fry and What Does it Sound Like?



So, here is a Johnny Mercer song which begins with the word “And”

“When October Goes”  by Barry Manilow (music) and Johnny Mercer  (lyrics)

And here is Harry Nilsson who knows something about people talking at him. So you may recall that this music is from Midnight Cowboy, which is on the Blogfinger Unforgettable Movie list.

2017 update:   Yesterday, October 9,  the  Wall Street Journal ran a piece on this subject, but this time a female linguist had a somewhat different take.  She finds that women who talk like this are victimized at work because of their speech pattern. She says that men also speak that way, so the idea that such speech is specific to women is a form of oppression.

I think this “linguist” has an agenda that is political and is not really about the speech patterns that we reported on in 2013.  She says that the pattern was only first observed in 2015, but our article shows otherwise.  In addition she only mentions vocal fry and not the other components mentioned in our article above.

Her interview is fake news because women are in fact the ones that use such speech predominantly. Men may sometimes have a sort of vocal fry, but it is indiginous to their maleness and not a form of speech meme acquired by women almost exclusively.

And, by the way, Blogfinger struck a nerve in 2013 with our post (above). It has become the most viewed article of ours compared to our roughly 7,000 posts in our archive. It shows that few experts are reporting on this topic and also that lots of people are interested and find us through Google searches and links sent from BF.


2021 update:   We heard Dana Perino  (former White House Press Sec.) being interviewed on radio by Brian Kilmeade regarding her new book Everything Will Be OK, and they were discussing up talking young women.  Dana was complaining about how young women say “like” all the time and speak with “uptalk.”

But she forgot to mention vocal fry, and, honestly, I could hear her uptalking also, but only mildly.  She said that such speech patterns will reduce the chances of a young woman to get ahead in our society.

Another journalist referred to “uptalking millennials.”

So clearly, the problem persists and thus we get hits of this piece on Blogfinger.net  nearly everyday.


Paul Goldfinger, MD,  Editor @Blogfinger.

Here is the link to the WSJ:



LITTLE WILLIE JOHN with “Talk to Me.”

“Talk to me, talk to me
Um-mm, I love the things you say
Talk to me, talk to me
In your own sweet gentle way”



Ladies:  Would you talk to a guy named “Little Willie?”

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Pine Barrens, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger © 2013

Season’s greetings from the Pine Barrens, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger © 2013

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger   (reposted from 11/29/13)

At Wegmans this morning they were already playing Christmas music.  Ironically, they call today “Black Friday”–an odd name for a day that should still be basking in the glow of a happy, happy, merry, merry holiday.    An employee that I barely know breezed by and said, “Happy Hanukkah.”  I didn’t have time to respond, but I thought, why is she wishing me happy anything?— I don’t really know her.  I was already a bit numb from so many people in stores and elsewhere saying, “Happy Thanksgiving.”  What’s the point?  No amount of good wishes would have any impact on the happiness of my Thanksgiving. And then you have to say “Happy Thanksgiving” back, even though I don’t care about their Thanksgiving. What a drag.

When I was in practice, patients would come in and wish me a “Happy Hanukkah.”  So I would wish them a “Merry Christmas,” but these greetings always struck me as awkward. For one thing, what makes them think I’m Jewish?  I never told them.  Maybe I’m a Moroccan Muslim.  I would prefer that they wish me a “Merry Christmas” so that I can fit right in.  Then I won’t have to answer questions like, “Is it the fourth or fifth night now?” I seldom know exactly what night it is.  Besides, I know they think that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas, and I wish I could explain that it is not even close. In my house, when I was a kid, we said a blessing, lit the candles and ate.  That was it.  And just one present, if I was lucky.

So I went up to the café in Wegmans and sat down to have coffee and a bagel and fiddle around with my iPad.  I’m wearing earphones, so I didn’t hear the man come up to me. When I sensed his presence, I looked up and there is a gentleman with whom I sometimes chat at Wegmans.  He said that he finds all these merry, merry, happy, happy  greetings to be a bit disturbing, because so many people are suffering in the world.  He mentioned the Central African Republic where, he said, “genocide” was occurring and also Syria, a place where he spent two years in the past.  There they are having death, destruction and a huge refugee problem.

I suggested to him that perhaps Americans are a bit delusional because they don’t know about such places. I never heard of the Central African Republic, so he told me that it used to be a French colony.  I always learn stuff at Wegmans.  Today I found out that the mashed potatoes are in the dairy department.  Go figure!

OK, I know, you all think I’m a curmudgeon, or something else. But we all have our pet peeves.  Do you have any pet peeves as it pertains to the happy, happy, merry, merry “holiday season?”

And that’s another darn thing:  Say “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holiday.”  We’re all big boys; even big girls are big boys these days.  Americans can handle the possibility of being insulted. Let’s all jettison some piece of political correctness this year.   Let’s lighten up this happy, happy, merry, merry season and wish everybody a new greeting.  Try something unexpected like,  “Ain’t that somethin’?”

And if you see me, wish me a “Merry Christmas.”  You’ll find me wandering around the Wegmans lot looking for my bloody car.

THE DIMMER TWINS   (“True Blue Aussie Christmas album”)

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By Charles Layton. (2011 on Blogfinger.net)

I happen to be reading The War in the Air by H.G. Wells, the turn-of-the-century British author famous for his prophetic ideas, depicted in what later came to be called science-fiction novels. The War in the Air foresaw World War I, describing it as a global combat employing enormous and powerful flying machines. It was written in 1907, only four years after the Wright Brothers’ first successful flight at Kitty Hawk.

About halfway through the book, a fleet of German airships moves in from the Atlantic to launch a surprise bombing attack against New York City. This German fleet, Wells writes, “reached New York in the late afternoon and was first seen by watchers in Ocean Grove and Long Branch coming swiftly out of the southward sea and going away to the northeast. The flagship passed almost vertically over the Sandy Hook observation station…”

What a picture! All those Methodists standing beside their tents marveling at the passage of an airship armada.

If anyone else has happened across an interesting reference to Ocean Grove in literature, please let us know.

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Photos and text by Paul Goldfinger.  Editor Blogfinger.net.    (Re-post 2013)

FEMA has named four corporations as the top companies in the U.S. for disaster preparation. They are Home Depot, Loews, Wal-Mart and the Waffle House chain of fast food restaurants. FEMA has been so impressed by the Waffle House company that they have created the “Waffle House Index” which is a metric that they use to informally guage the severity of a disaster.

Inside a Georgia Waffle House along Route 95.

Inside a Georgia Waffle House along Route 95.

Waffle House is a privately held company based in Georgia. They have 1,700 outlets in 20 states across the south and along the Atlantic corridor from the Carolinas down to Florida. Their restaurants stay open 24/7 and they are known for fresh, fast home cooked food. Waffle House restaurants do not advertise and they have achieved some cult status, being mentioned in movies ( a scene in“The Tin Cup”,) country songs, web sites and comedy routines. Traveling musicians, athletes and police love to stop there, and down south they call it a “cultural icon.” Each unit has a juke box and they strive to use diner lingo such as “scattered” hash browns, meaning spread out on the grill.

Much of their notoriety is because they try to never close during disasters such as hurricanes. They have manuals to guide their employees towards that goal. All the units have generators and other special equipment and they are prepared and supplied to continue cooking and making ice no matter what.

The WH Index was developed by FEMA in 2011 after several catastrophic Class 5 tornados struck in Joplin, Missouri, and 5 of the WH stores managed to stay open when everything else closed.

After a disaster, FEMA checks how the Waffle Houses are doing and they use a color code depending on whether the restaurants are serving a full menu, a limited menu or if they are code red (ie closed.) The commitment of the Waffle House company is so strong that FEMA knows that things are bad if Waffle House can’t function. We spoke to some of their employees who verified that pride and commitment.

Eileen and I stopped at a few of their units in the Carolinas and Georgia. They are small places with lively and pleasant staffs. A couple of times we went in at sunrise, and it was like an oasis with the lights on and the personnel ready.

The shops are spotless, and all the workers wear clean starched uniforms. The cooking is done in the open. The cook faces the stainless steel grill and has a basket of eggs in front. She cooks the eggs in small fry pans reminiscent of what you have at home, and great care is given to prepare your food just the way you want it. She flips the eggs into the air and catches them without any breakage—I think it makes them taste better.

The waitresses discuss your order with the cook, while you watch the action. It seems so comforting to be in one of these restaurants, especially if it is dark out and you’re on a journey.

ANNIE BATTLE.  “Waffle House.”

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Torro Shoe Repair and Leather Works. Ft. Myers, Fla.

Torro Shoe Repair and Leather Works. Ft. Myers, Fla.  By Paul Goldfinger © 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

I went into the Torro  Shoe Repair and Leather Works shop on McGregor Avenue in Fort Myers, Florida, not far from the Edison and Ford estates.  The sign in the window offered cheerleading and kick boxing lessons. Inside, it was a small space with several machines to fix shoes and the sort of disarray that only occurs in places where artists or craftsmen work.

Somehow old-time shoe repair shops  like this survive because some leather items are too good to be disposable. My belt came from Pennsylvania via Bill’s Khaki’s, and I needed two holes added.

This is not a belt to throw away when the size needs adjusting. I’m a sucker for handmade items that have patina, enduring parts, mechanical mechanisms, and classy old-fashioned  styling, so this is the ad from Bill’s that got me to purchase their English bridle leather belt with a stainless steel buckle—this belt had “meaning:”

For years, customers have asked us to make a belt that goes perfectly with our khakis and jeans. But making a belt just for the sake of it wasn’t compelling… the belt had to have meaning. Then we found Floyd, a second generation Amish harness maker whose workshop lies deep in the remote mountains of Pennsylvania. This belt was our first collaborative effort. The end result explains why we went to such great lengths to bring these belts to you.”   

I never met the Torro craftsman who fixed my belt at the rate of $2.00 per hole.  I imagined him to be old-world. perhaps Italian, in his manner, wearing a soiled apron that was tinted by hundreds of cans of shoe polish—-the kind that you had to rub into the shoe.  I thought he might have Puccini playing on the radio.   But he never materialized , and there was no music.

Instead,  a pretty, slender, young  blond woman came out from the back. She had no patina or other signs of aging or handmade workmanship, but she did have style. Maybe she was the kick boxing instructor.

Anyhow she told me to leave the belt and come back later.  I said, “Don’t I get a ticket or something?”    She said, ” I just handed it to you.”  Uh oh, my cover was blown.  I was so busy being distracted that a tiny orange ticket wound up in my shirt pocket.  On it it said only “2 holes.”

Did I feel loved at Torro?  Not really, but I did enjoy the visit. And, my pants no longer tend to drift south.

PINK MARTINI from their album “Hang On Little Tomato.”




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Blackbirds sit along the front downstairs railing at the Quaker Inn in Ocean Grove, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo.  Re-post from 2012.

By Paul Goldfinger, wildlife editor @Blogfinger

Carl Hoffman was startled when he walked by the Quaker Inn on Main Avenue in Ocean Grove. There along the front railing was a row of blackbirds. So Carl tipped us off, and over we went to get some photos. Sure enough, there were 13 blackbirds sitting there unperturbed. I decided to interview one of them and to get a quote. He wasn’t shy — quoth the raven, “Nevermore.” After that there were no more quothes.

It seems one of the innkeepers at the Quaker found the birds and put them up for Halloween. While we were there perusing the blackbirds, a young man named Nick Scott, age 14, came flying out of the house trying to make a getaway on his bike. Nick, a personable 14-year-old student at St.Rose, is the son of Liz Scott, one of the innkeepers. She preferred not to be in the picture, but Nick agreed to pose with the birds; that’s not to say that he is for the birds — only with the birds. Not that there’s anything wrong with being for the birds.

Nick Scott, Ocean Grover who was fearless in posing with a fake flock of finely feathered flying blackbirds. PG photo

The Quaker Inn dates back to 1877, making it an old hotel. It’s terrific if you are from out of town and feel like packing up all your cares and woes. There are no woes at the Quaker. So, if no one seems to love or understand you, this is the place.

The Quaker Inn sans blackbirds. Website photo.

SOUNDTRACK: From the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” by Joe Cocker (who sure sounds a lot like Ray Charles, but they cannot be brothers).

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Paul Goldfinger, MD, intern. 1967. East 97th Street at Park Ave, near the Mt. Sinai Hospital staff housing.

Paul Goldfinger, MD, intern. 1967. East 97th Street at Park Ave, near the Mt. Sinai Hospital staff housing.


By Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

(Originally published in 2008, Ocean Grove Record, Steven Froias editor. Also in 2013 on Blogfinger. Some of you may have missed it.)

“C’mon doc…let’s take a walk.”  Ordinarily this request wouldn’t seem odd, but it was 2 AM, and the idea of getting some sleep seemed much more sensible. But he was my boss, and such a request from the chief medical resident was not to be ignored. “Sure, John; that sounds terrific.”  John was an insomniac, with an insatiable love for the excitement of the big New York City hospital where we worked.


I was a twenty five year old intern, and we had just finished admitting seven acutely ill patients to the medical floor. My white jacket was wrinkled, and the tunic shirt, which had been clean, starched and buttoned up to the neck, was now sweaty and open at the throat. My pockets were stuffed with pieces of paper containing hurried notes scrawled as we put out one fire after another. Now it was time to catch up and do chart work. We sat at the nurses’ station, which was strangely empty, except for the rustle of an occasional nurse buzzing by.


My internship had just begun, and those long summer nights “on call” were extraordinary times of intense learning, exhilarating joy, crushing sadness and profound fatigue. We usually were up most of the night and had to work all the next day before finally getting some sleep. This was not a job for anyone over the age of thirty.


The interns came from all over the country, and each one seemed to have certain strengths which reflected where he went to school, so we learned from each other. My med school had emphasized practical “how to” knowledge, while others stressed theory. The latter group didn’t know which end of a suppository was up, but they knew all about the latest research trials. By the end of the year, it had all evened out.


Despite the hard work, everyone was very enthusiastic. Many times, someone would come in on their night off. I recall one time when a first year resident strolled in at 1 AM wearing a tux, followed by his date in a long gown. He went in to check an interesting new admission. The patient was quite impressed (as was I) and thought that we had a very classy staff.


The hospital by night was much different compared to its daytime demeanor. All the frills and frenzy were gone. There were no rounds, no conferences, no visitors, and no noise…only the bare necessities: people caring for people. It seemed like the place had been transformed into a sanctuary where a sort of medical swat team had formed to stand guard and make sure that everyone got through the night.  I liked to step outside in the early morning and breathe the fresh air blowing off Central Park across the street and watch the lights twinkling and the taxis cruising along the nearly deserted avenue. You needed to do that to clear your head of the hospital’s heavy atmosphere, even if only for a minute before the beeper went off.


As chief resident, John liked to wander about and make sure that things were going well. He and I walked through the underground tunnel that connected the various buildings, carrying paper cups of warm coffee. The sounds of our steps and voices echoed through the halls as we approached the emergency room.


En route we met the “dirty half dozen.”  This was the night surgical crew prowling about like a wolf pack looking for fresh meat. The surgical residency lasted five years, so there were five on each night plus a surgical intern. They were a motley assortment, dressed in green, all male, given to grunts, low humor and two day beards. “Hey Finger…got any hot gall bags for us?”  These guys were always hunting for OR cases and would operate on a salami if they could get consent.


The ER was a brightly lit, nonstop, wild and crazy place populated by drug addicts, policemen, drunks, crying kids, bag ladies and, of course, a textbook collection of patients. The interns who worked there seemed to be more cocky and raunchy than most, and the nurses were a hardened bunch who had no fears and who were incapable of being shocked.


John was asked to see a beautiful young European woman who stood out in that crowd. She had been partying and was due to fly home the next day. She was nearly hysterical about a small sore on her lip. John knew that it was a harmless cold sore and he told her so, but just to make her feel totally confident and happy, he gave her a shot of penicillin. I was learning the art of medicine and witnessing a small triumph.


Our next stop was the cardiac surgery ICU.  John had been a cardiology resident the year before, so he liked to stop there. Another reason had to do with a certain charge nurse who worked the night shift. While they chatted, I gazed about at the blinking monitors and listened to the humming and buzzing of respirators, suction machines and other assorted devices. The soft sounds of the machines and the voices of competent medical people were reassuring even to me, so I supposed that the patients sensed it also.


We returned to our floor at about 4 am to check in on our “sickies” and to discuss some of the cases. It was traditional for the resident to “teach” the intern prior to wrapping it up for the night. It was painful trying to stay awake during those early morning lectures, but the personal attention was amazing, and, besides, interns weren’t supposed to sleep.


Finally I was able to drag myself to our “on call” room. I would become unconscious even before my head actually collided with the pillow. If I were lucky, the phone wouldn’t ring for an hour or so. At 6:30 am we had to be on the floor to do “scut work” which included drawing blood, starting IV’s and running ECG’s before the 8 am start of rounds, where we had to present the new cases to the whole staff.


In recent years, there were complaints in the press about sleep deprived hospital interns and residents. Laws were passed requiring “house staff” to work reasonable hours. I didn’t agree with imposing those rules on a profession that knows how to teach young doctors in ways that go back to Hippocrates.  Yes, we were sleep deprived, but we had so much to learn, and working long shifts was a time honored way to become a competent physician. No one in our hospital was harmed by sleepy interns. The adrenaline kept us going, and there were wonderful residents, attending physicians and nurses to make sure that we did the right thing. We didn’t care about the sleep issue. What we wanted was the action, and you don’t get in the game if you’re asleep.


(Dr. Goldfinger trained for five years in internal medicine and cardiology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, where they had been training doctors for over 100 years and where he became a member of the first faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He eventually got some sleep and now he is enjoying retirement in Ocean Grove)



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Crew-members: Doolittle raid on Japanese islands, April 18, 1942. 16 B-25B bombers took off from the deck of the USS Hornet.

By Kennedy Buckley of Ocean Grove, New Jersey   (Re-posted from 2012 on Blogfinger.)

I was 9, visiting Ireland, when the war started in 1939. To get home we embarked from Scotland, and Mom bought me some toy soldiers and a tank for the sea voyage home.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was what changed life in the US; now we were in the war instead of watching. Lots of small banners with a blue star in the center started appearing in front windows, meaning a family member was in the service. My two older cousins from Philly went in, and  one would become an officer in the paratroopers (more about him later). Dad’s younger brother with no children was drafted — my dad not. Soon there were multiple flags in many windows.

Nobody was allowed to go up on the roof of my uncle’s tall apartment building in Brooklyn because a spy could see all the ships in New York harbor awaiting convoy. All  windows had to have heavy  drapes to prevent light shining out. If light could be seen, an Air Raid Warden blew a whistle until you fixed it. Rationing books were needed to buy food and things. Tin cans and tin foil were saved and collected for the “war effort.”

There was little car driving (gas and tires were rationed) so Esso (now Exxon) printed war maps instead of road maps on which you could follow the battle front as the Allies went through Europe and the Pacific. War news was really bad, defeat after defeat; however, our spirits were raised with very welcome GOOD news about a daring air raid on Tokyo by B-25 bombers flying off aircraft carriers. (The 70th anniversary of that raid just passed–in 2012.)

This family had 3 members serving. The service flag hung in many windows.

As the war went on, many of the BLUE stars in the windows started changing to GOLD, signifying the death of that serviceman.

Many of our neighbors in the tenements were Italian. Each family had a small storage room in the cellars. Italian families made wine there and stored it in big bottles. When V-E Day came, the celebrating started in the afternoon by bringing the wine to the street for huge block parties that went on into the wee hours. EVERYBODY drank. I was 14 and my buddies and I got falling drunk for the first time, rolling around in the street — nobody cared.

Newsreels of color war footage of the island by island battles in the Pacific were shown in the movie theaters. They were so gruesome that when the atomic bombs were dropped, nobody complained — soon after came V-J Day.  It was the end ….of that war.

4 brothers from the Demby family of Bayonne, NJ (Paul’s family) returned home after serving in WWII. Three were in the Pacific, and one (Marty) was in the convoys that plowed through the North Atlantic with supplies for Russia and England. PG family photo. 1945.  Front l to r.  Ben (Bronze star valor), “Duke” (subs), rear: Al on left (Sea Bees) and Marty  (Coast Guard).


Postscript by Ken:

The soldiers came back home in droves to try to begin a normal life. My cousin Jimmy, the paratrooper, was already back recuperating  in an Army Hospital. He had jumped twice in Europe, D-Day in France and later in Belgium. He lost most of his men in the 2nd jump and was badly wounded. He never really resumed a normal life. He married (I was in the Wedding Party) a wonderful, beautiful woman,  an ex-Rockette. He was in and out of Veterans hospitals until he died in his early 30’s.

I fear for the returning veterans from our recent and current wars. Will they get enough care? I really worry.

Kennedy Buckley   (Note:  Ken Buckley died earlier this year in Ocean Grove.)


MUSIC from that era:  A lot of the music was sentimental and often catered to the imaginations of homesick GI’s who literally spent years away from home and loved ones.

Here is Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman orchestra with a song that undoubtedly reminded many GI’s of their girls back home.  —PG


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Note:   Ken Buckley, of Ocean Grove, wrote this for us in 2009 when Blogfinger was just starting and we had fewer readers. Ken was a buyer for a major New York department store.  Ken passed away this year.


Paris flower

Paris flower market. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©


By Kennedy Buckley

Thirty years ago I was sent by a large department store to cover the showings in Paris. We were met at the airport by a rep from our Paris office and whisked to a chic small hotel on the left bank … the Lenox on Rue de l’Université … for a quick change of clothes and the start of our appointments at various showrooms around town. No time for lunch, “you’ll get a sandwich as you’re shown the new styles.” After some more stops, the suggestion of dinner was “poo-poohed” as two designer runway shows were to be squeezed in. Eventually back to the hotel for a late snack and a collapse onto a not-very-comfy single bed, but not before scheduling an early wake-up call for the next day’s big trip to the Prêt-a-Porter showings at the huge exhibition hall on the outskirts of town. Day one down!

(What about the wonderful restaurants and fabulous sights I heard so much of in preparation of this trip? All I’d seen was the Eiffel Tower out the taxi window as we sped from the airport.)

The Prêt-a-Porter venue was so distant, we took the Metro … buying a FIRST CLASS pass to have a chance at a seat. There were many hundreds of vendors there, spread out over an area twice the size of NYC’s Javitz Center. It required walking what seemed like miles of aisles to cover just SOME of the companies the rep had arranged in advance for us to see. Any others that seemed interesting while rushing about would require returning another day … and try to remember where their booth was located? Good Luck! Of course, we were again fortunate (?) to have secured tickets to a big-name designer’s fashion show that evening, so it’s rush back to get a decent seat, which allows no time for dinner … or even a (much needed) drink.

So much for day two. By now I realize I have already seen so much that if I don’t start writing some tentative orders from the day’s notes before I go to sleep, I’ll be completely lost. You may be wondering who the “we” are that I refer to. Well! Buyers have a merchandise manager who approves the orders, and the merchandise managers have a Senior Vice President. Plus, there is a Fashion Director overlooking the direction the store is trying to achieve fashion-wise. N.B: The only essential person in all this is the “buyer,” because if nothing gets bought, there is no need (excuse?) for anybody else to go to Paris. Get the “we” now? The Sr. V.P.and the Fashion Director are only around for the big-name designer runway shows and parties anyway.

I have to confess that many of the days and nights are distant blurs in my memory, so I will distill some showroom happenings into one typical example. After sleeping through the morning wake-up call … after a late night out … quick shower and dress hurriedly … I taxi to first appointment. No need to ask … it is obvious … coffee for me!!!

The models come past our table strutting their wares … turning if asked … and stopping if the style number is wanted. Although it is before 10 a.m., they are gorgeous, even though they have probably been partying late (it IS Paris). I become aware of a particularly striking one wearing a sheer black camisole with embroidered black polka dots, a couple of which, I notice, seem to be moving … (jiggling?) … I realize I am being paid to sit here, served croissant and coffee, to watch beautiful fashions parading past … what a wonderful world!

Enough about the work. Ten days (and nights) in Paris means some great food (try and forget our stupid dress buyer trying to order scrambled eggs, well done, at a famous sidewalk cafe) …  great entertainment … I don’t remember the singer’s name, but the standing room only crowd sang “I Will Survive.” The baths are an experience … going up La Tour Eiffel …

“Fashion” is what you observe: what real people walking around have put together … and small boutiques’ displays … Montmartre … Notre Dame … champagne at Crazy Horse! Ten days; all expenses paid (almost all)! Who needs to go to sleep? You can do that on the flight home.

Will I ever get back here? We will have to wait to see if the merchandise I order sells.

MUSIC:  Old Blue Eyes recalls what it was like checking out a beautiful woman:

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Eileen’s seder table. Passover 2012 (5772). Ocean Grove, New Jersey

J.A. Joel, Jewish soldier in the Union Army. 1862. Author of the Civil War seder article described below. (photo: Jewish Virtual Library)

During Reverend Stokes’ time, a Passover seder in the Grove would have been highly unlikely.  But these days, given the changing demographics in what used to be a one-size-fits-all religious environment, seders in the Grove do occur. The seder is a festive celebration devoted to family, traditional foods and retelling  the story of Exodus. A guide book called  the Hagaddah is used during the seder.

Although Passover is a happy holiday, the recitation of this phase of Jewish history is a solemn obligation and a touchstone for Jewish identity. Most American Jews celebrate a seder at Passover. But seders are held all over the world, and, although the framework is the same for each seder, there are many variations of  the rituals, depending on regional and cultural differences. It is surprising where seders have occurred in the past. We know, for example, that secret Passover celebrations were held “underground” during the Inquisition, in Spain and Portugal.

Image courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. Two marines and a soldier attend a seder in 1944. In front of them are Australian matzohs. They are probably in the Pacific.

In America, there are reports of seders being held by soldiers during the  Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  There were matzoh factories in unlikely places such as Montana and the Dakotas.

In 1862, an account by  soldier,  J. A. Joel of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Regiment,  of a seder celebrated by Union soldiers in Fayette, West Virginia, was published in The Jewish Messenger.  Joel and 20 other Jewish soldiers were granted leave to observe Passover.  They received matzoh shipped from Cincinnati.

Said Joel, “We sent parties to forage for Passover food while a group stayed to build a log hut for the services. We obtained two kegs of cider (Ed. note: wine was unavailable), a lamb, several chickens and some eggs. We could not obtain horseradish or parsley, but instead we found a weed whose bitterness, I apprehend, exceeded anything our forefathers ‘enjoyed.’ “   (Ed. note: The seder table includes “bitter herbs” to recall the terrible  times as slaves.)

Joel went on to report  how they used “Yankee ingenuity” to make substitutions for other traditional components of the seder. Those Jews who fought with the North felt like they had the moral high ground  (compared to Jews serving in the Confederate Army) because of the similarity between the freeing of Jewish slaves in Exodus and their participation in freeing the American black slaves. Happy Easter and Passover to those Grovers who celebrate these holidays.

Here is a link about a seder in Ocean Grove in 2011 with references to Haggadahs.

Ocean Grove seder 2011.


—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

ETTA JAMES: “Down by the Riverside.”


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