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Showing posts from 2006

Update to Someone You Didn't Know

Diane Newton's life was tragically cut short when a 19-year-old joyrider crashed into her parked car in Harlem on July 3, 2005. I worked with Diane, a public school teacher, for a short time when I taught writing as part of an arts program in New York City. Her classes were magical and inspiring. I will never forget her care and concern for her students and for her patience. My story, Someone You Didn't Know, tells of my teaching experiences and focuses on Diane's class.

Her killer was sentenced to three years in prison. Diane Newton's life was worth much more than that.

A Million Little Pieces - and a Few Lies

Writing a memoir means recreating past events and taking down the truth as we see it. And the way we see it or recall it is open to the varities of one's personality, persuasion, prediliction for remembering details, age, and circumstances. My brother and I remember the same events differently. The basic event is the same but our recollection and interpretation of the facts as we perceive it are different. It's not that we've created our own fantasy but we sifted through live's events and tragedies through different lenses. But the basic events are the same.

James Frey took events from his own life and embellished them to the point where they became lies. His books are technically fictionalized memoir which gives them the label of fiction. Should some memoirs now receive a label called "faux fiction" or "half-truth fiction"? How do we know what actually happened? But when facts - not thoughts or feelings - are tampered with the credibility …

So Long to Barrymore's

Barrymore's closed its doors this past evening, one more remembrance of what Times Square used to be. A handwritten sign taped to the door - "Kitchen closed" - and the people quietly sitting at the bar or at tables having a drink or two marked its last day. You could sit and have a drink at the bar or order a burger or salad in its cavern like space. Ted and Steve, two waiters, would pull up a chair and chat. At the next table might be a stagehand or two, or even Chita Rivera, George Hearn, Karen Ziemba or other Broadway regulars relaxing and unwinding. It was unpretentious, if you had an attitude it was best to leave it at home, and you could strike up a conversation with the people at the table next to you.

In its place, we've heard, is a hotel. The regulars will find another place to go and tourists will pay top price to say they've stayed in New York. And we'll walk past 45th Street and see the ghost of Barrymore's, just like walking down 42nd …