Posted by: Mickey Goodman | May 25, 2014

New York Redux

In my email box this morning was notice that this dormant blog has a new follower. It was reason enough to post again – even though my travel has been almost nil this year except for a wonderful trip to NYC for the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference at the end of April.

 It’s an event I look forward to every year – three or four days with my writing peeps, including a vibrant board of directors. Plus the joy of being in the Big Apple. Each year I factor in extra time for sightseeing, and although I promise myself to venture out of Manhattan, there are always places that call me.

 This year it was the fabulous New York Public Library where the featured exhibit was “The ABCs of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” As a book lover ever since I can remember, I was mesmerized by the number and quality of books that have transcended time. “Goodnight Moon;” “Alice in Wonderland;” “Where the Wild Things Are” – and hundreds more favorites through the years fill room after room. Their original manuscripts and first editions are exhibited along side original drawings and drafts. Notes and comments from the authors filled the margins along with evolutions of illustrations that morphed into those that eventually made it into print.

 In the interactive exhibit, Alice’s head rises from normal level to at least 10 feet-high on a neck composed of books. I walked through a fuzzy Wild Things archway and watched the delight on the faces of children who must love books too. I traveled to a time when my mom read me a story every night until I was old enough to read one to her. And more recent memories of reading to young grandchildren flooded over me.

 I like to take credit for my Grands love of books, but I think it’s inborn. Jenna who began reading at three (no joke) and refuses to go anywhere without a book; Mia who struggled with reading in kindergarten and is now Ace-ing AP classes; Idan, the lone grandson, who devours books about his sports heroes; Jael who wanted a huge bookcase for her birthday to house her growing collection; Meg, whose love of reading runs a close second to her affinity for art. Who could ask for better?

But I digress. The NY Public Library building is a work of art inside and out. Even better, on a weekday afternoon it was crowded with visitors and members who came to see the New York icon and take advantage of computers, classes and millions of books. Don’t miss it if you’re in New York (in the heart of Manhattan on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street).

 My next treat was The Morgan Library (225 Madison at 36th Street) that I’ve visited every year since NYC friend, Margie Goldsmith, introduced me. Prepare to be amazed at the beauty of the architecture and art – and the unbelievable collection with priceless pieces like the Guttenburg Bible, an autographed manuscript of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s the “Haffner” Symphony; a note from Steinbeck to a friend about his struggle to finish “this damned book,” (The Grapes of Wrath) and so much more. Ask the guard to let you peak behind the locked gates and see Pierpont Morgan’s secret stairway, the one he used to avoid seeing unwanted visitors, and don’t miss his library filled with extraordinary works of art.

The special exhibit I went to see was The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) the most famous work of the French aristocrat, writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I had to read it in the original French while in college and came to love the story and simple drawings, all sketched by the author.

His original manuscripts filled with derogatory notes to himself and drawings line the walls, and as much as I still love it, I was surprised to learn that The Little Prince is the most-read and most-translated book in the French language. It has been translated into more than 250 languages and dialects (as well as braille) and continues to sell nearly two-million copies annually with a staggering 140-million worldwide since its first printing in 1943. Every author should be so lucky!

 

Posted by: Mickey Goodman | April 13, 2014

He worked himself to death

Mickey Goodman:

As writers, we often do crazy things to get a story. But crazy can kill. No deadline is worth a lost life.

Originally posted on Broadside:

By Caitlin Kelly

The world of journalism is full of competitive, ambitious, driven people. I’m one of them.

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But a recent death — that of 39-year-old New York writer Matthew Power — raises questions for me that remain troubling and unanswered. He died in Uganda while on assignment of heatstroke.

On Facebook I read, and joined, a discussion with other journalists why his decisions seemed normal. Not to me.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

And yet there was something else, too. Matt may have been a free spirit, but he paid a New York mortgage and worked hard to afford it. Reviewing Matt’s itinerary—red-eye, trans-Atlantic flight followed by a seven-hour drive to the trailhead the day of his arrival, then joining the expedition on his second day in country—I got a shiver of recognition. I’d have made the same mistake. Not just failing to give heat the respect I do altitude…

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Posted by: Mickey Goodman | April 11, 2014

Wave of the Future: Housing the Size of a Garage Parking Place

Interior of "Asian" SCADpad with interactive walls

Interior of “Asian” SCADpad with interactive walls

As a journalist, I get to meet the most fascinating people and visit sites I might never dream of, including multi-million dollar mansions. But one of the coolest things I’ve seen in 15 years of writing for a living is located in the Savannah School of Art parking garage in Atlanta.

If you love architecture, creative design, innovation, technology and just pure talent, don’t miss the open-to-the-public weekend dates in April and May (www.scadpad.com). You’ll be mine-boggled at what ingenious minds can produce when working together.

SCADpad is a community of three 135-square-foot residences on wheels (yep, that’s the size of a normal parking space in a high-rise lot). But every square inch has been re-purposed as an inventive comfortable, attractive living space.

The collaborative effort between 75 students from 12 disciplines in SCAD’s Senior Studies class and 12 faculty members has totally repurposed the bland garage into a park, a garden with an attractive NU box (nutrient box) with storage for gray water for the plants, a composter that supplies nutrients and more. Open workspace (The Rapid Prototyping Area) has a 3D printer designed by students, plus benches and tables for studying and a nearby parking rack for bikes and scooters.

Nothing goes to waste. Gray water from showers and sinks is used to water the garden; solar panels provide energy and lighting, and everything within the units is controlled by Apps created by the students. An added bonus: the views of downtown Atlanta are phenomenal.

Named European, North America and Asian, the three SCADpads are decorated to reflect the three areas of the globe where SCAD colleges are located. Each has a narrow and private outdoor space.

Interior of "European" SCADpad

Interior of “European” SCADpad

Most of the accessories for the tiny residences were produced on the 3D printer that was designed by students. Pod residents can also use the amazing printer to produce other objects they need for their spaces. Everything within the community is multi-functional. Most have been made from recycled materials.

In the park, a large round basket serves alternately as seating, a table or storage. The base of the round table that unites the curved seating area that was designed for both lounging and perching is made from brightly painted tires.

Think you could never live in such a tiny space? SCAD put out the word to their students and had so many applicants for the week-long experiments – life as art — they had to hold a lottery for the one-week stays.

“The idea is to provide housing for Millennials who don’t feel the need for cars, haven’t accumulated ‘stuff,’ but want their private spaces,” says Victor Ermoli, Dean of the School of Design and Academic Services. “We want to demonstrate that you can live big in small spaces.”

SCADoad 3D printer used to create accessories for interiors

SCADoad 3D printer used to create accessories for interiors

Ermoli proudly points to some of the innovative features. There are interactive pillows, wall coverings and cushions that light up at the touch of a hand or play music. Hand-designed wall, floor and ceiling tiles serve as insulation; windowpanes react to light and frost to create privacy — and more. Storage is tucked along the walls and on them and under the beds. Bathrooms are sparse, narrow spaces with the shower at one end, the commode at another and the sink in between.

“In the United states, there are 1.5 million parking spaces, five for every car,” says Ermoli. The SCAD garage has 109 spaces; eight are used for the SCADpad community. Our idea is convert some of them into eco-friendly living spaces that will revitalize cities and provide inexpensive housing.”

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Mickey Goodman | October 31, 2013

Live Like Royalty at the King and Prince

St. Simons Beach from King & Prince

St. Simons Beach from King & Prince

I first visited Georgia’s Golden Isles (St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll and Sea Island) decades ago, and the siren’s call of the velvety marshes keeps calling me back. When an invitation comes to be part of a group sampling the new farm-to-table menu created by Chef Jason Brumfiel at the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island I jump at the chance.

 My spacious cabana room in the historic section at the stately Mediterranean style hotel (www.kingandprince.com) affords a fabulous view of the ocean. I can simply open the doors for a walk on the two-and-a half miles of hard-packed sand outside my door, take a dip in the ocean or hotel pool or just relax on my private patio. The only ocean front hotel on islands, The King and Prince is a member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America and named to the National Register of Historic Places. But Southerners who return year after year don’t need the accolades to enjoy the ambience and activities on the island.

Chef Brumfield with Sous Chef Mickey

Chef Brumfield with Sous Chef Mickey

Each meal created by Chef Brumfiel is a gastronomical experience. He has a new take on Southern culinary traditions with options for guests who are vegetarian or vegan. He’s also gone to great lengths to source the meat, fish and vegetables locally.  My favorites include the shrimp and grits entrée and Frogmore Stew – both prepared with assistance from members of the group.

Every evening we gather for cocktails at the King and Prince and sample new drinks like the refreshing Due West, a combination of rye whiskey, fresh mint, club soda and St. Germain liqueur and Whipped Sunset, an eye-catching concoction of pineapple juice, vodka and vodka infused whipped cream. Served outside, we welcome a St. Simons sunset, enjoy new-found friends and listen to the rhythmic sounds of the surf. What more could anyone ask for?

One morning we tear ourselves away from Chef Brumfiel’s fare for a sumptuous breakfast at Tim and Melissa Wellford’s Sandcastle Café and Grill (http://sandcastleatthepier.com) that just celebrated its 25th anniversary. The country-style buffet features special casseroles and breads prepared on the premises by owners Tim and Melissa Wellford. Located steps away from the famous St. Simons pier and lighthouse, the Sandcastle is a favorite of locals and tourists alike.

Southern Soul Barbecue

Southern Soul Barbecue

Craving barbeque, we head for Southern Soul Barbeque (www.southernsoulbbq.com) where pulled pork, ribs, smoked turkey and chicken and all the “fixins” take center stage. We sit outside on picnic benches and soak up the barbecue and good conversation. The casual appearance of the diner belies its fame, because the friendly restaurant has been featured on the Food Network and in multiple magazines.

 Exploring the Island

Lady Jane shrimpboat

Lady Jane shrimpboat

Choosing a favorite experience on the islands is a bit like naming my “favorite” child. But a morning aboard “The Lady Jane,” a shrimp boat-turned excursion ship docked in nearby Brunswick is hard to beat.

 Marine biologist Phillip Flournoy deftly reels in the trawling net and picks up the most interesting creature in the catch – a plate-sized horseshoe crab with a long pointed tail.

Horse Shoe CrabThe species, considered living fossils, date back 450 million years. Once freed from Flournoy’s grasp, the intrepid crab makes a beeline for the sea alongside a tiny crab that uses runoff water to propel itself. As Flournoy tosses small flounders to the hungry flock of seagulls trailing the boat, we chant, “Go crabs, go.”

He chides us a bit saying, “Every creature is fulfilling its destiny as food for a larger creature.”

St. Simons Lighthouse

St. Simons Lighthouse

No trip to St. Simons is complete without a tour aboard Cap Fendig’s Lighthouse Trolley (www.lighthousetrolleys.com) that highlights places of interest on the island. Serene Christ Church built in 1884 had been visited by Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. Constructed from heart pine lumber, it remains an active congregation with multiple services on Sundays to accommodate members and guests in the tiny 140-seat chapel.  The oldest graves date back to 1796, each with a tale to tell.

At the Glynn Arts Association (www.glynnart.org) that showcases local artists and offers drop-in classes, we make sand castings that turn out surprisingly well. Other drop-in classes in oils, acrylics, pastels, pottery and more are offered weekly for adults, with special classes for children.

Another day we climb on gulf carts and tour the King and Prince Golf Club (aka The Hampton Club) that is open to the public. The par 72, 18 hole course is PGA-approved and 11 PGA golf pros live on the islands – more than any other place in the U.S.

Situated amid the bucolic marshes where eagles, deer, osprey and ‘gator are frequently spotted, the club must be one of the most beautiful in the country. Because of the care the islands take to preserve the eco-system, biodegradable ballsFran Kaplan are preferred and have even been approved for tournaments.

The lunch special features beef from Bob and Susan Woodall’s Fort Creek Farms (www.fortcreekfarm.com) located between Macon and Augusta. The couple left the corporate world to raise grass-fed Hereford cattle when Susan inherited the only intact antebellum plantation of its size still in private hands. “Natural hormone-free feed is good for animals and humans alike, because the meat is high in good fat, low in bad,” she says. It’s also delicious!

With full stomachs and memories of sand and sea, we say our goodbyes, vowing to return to the King and Prince again soon. From November until February, the hotel will “polish its crown” with lobby and restaurant makeovers. In the meantime special programs and rates will definitely lure me back. The sooner, the better.

Posted by: Mickey Goodman | August 23, 2013

Love Story

 This is a far departure from my usual Travelgram posts that feature fun times and special trips. But I’m feeling more than a little nostalgic today, the 10th anniversary of my husband Phil’s death. I still see him everywhere – in the giggles of our now teenage granddaughters and the mischievous eyes of the nine-year old grandson he never met, in his old denim shirt that I still wear, in his big leather chair, and most of all in the faces of my three children.

 Below is a shortened version of an article I wrote for Atlanta Magazine the February after he lost battle with that demon, cancer.

***

 “A life well-lived doesn’t end any more than music ends…

It echoes through time with whispers of beauty and grace.

If we listen, we can hear the encore with our hearts,

For the song plays on,

Just as love lives on.” – Unknown

 Phil 2001

My husband kept his Sony cassette player within arms reach during the unending hospital stays. Classical music wafting over WABE-FM sustained him through surgeries, radiation and chemotherapies. When he lost the final battle to cancer, National Public Radio broadcast the news of his death and a CNN banner streaked scrolled across the bottom of television sets across the country. The Atlanta Journal Constitution listed him among the “Notable Deaths of 2003.” There was even an article disseminated by the Associate Press. The man who never thought he accomplished much would have been stunned.

 He also would have been confounded by the scores of people who came to say farewell. There were former colleagues from GPTV and Peach State Public radio where he was the founder and director, Ham radio buddies, friends from every phase of our lives, the now adult friends of our kids who used to hang out on our den, neighbors new and old.

Some just hugged me, others wiped away tears of their own. Words were unnecessary. Their presence said it all. When a friend from my teaching days who had also lost her husband approached, I expected a life preserver. Instead, she threw me an anchor. “You’ll have to join my group,” she said. “We call ourselves the Merry Widows.”

Once the family left, the friends returned to their normal lives, the flowers wilted and the thank you notes were mailed, I was left in silence. Without my love and best friend, the house groaned, shadows jumped through the windows, the sudden glare from the deck’s motion lights spelled terror. A house once filled with love and laughter – even during the difficult years when cancer ruled our lives – became a tomb of memories.

I often think it’s still the little things I miss most. I long to see Phil’s eyes light up when I walk into a room. I miss his quick wit and off-beat sense of humor, his ability to think clearly in the midst of chaos; the man who never met a household project he couldn’t fix.

People told me there would be black days. They didn’t tell me that navigating life without him would be like paddling a canoe in the midst of a tsunami. The waves keep sucking me out to a black sea. A sentimental piece of music on the radio sends me reeling. A glimpse of an aging couple holding hands, brings quick tears. No one warned me I would lose my brain and my decision-making abilities along with my lock box key and check book register.

There are things you never know until you’re picking up the pieces of a broken life. I never suspected couple-friends would suddenly stop calling or that the husband of an acquaintance would sidle up to me and say, “If you ever get lonesome all alone at night, just call me on my cell phone – any time.”

When I emerged from a semi-catatonic state, I began making the phone calls. Social Security was first. With the swiftness of an American eagle they sucked out the previous month’s check. (There is no pro-ration, even if the death occurred at 11:59 p.m. on the 31st of the month. Since the monthly stipend is paid in advance, they immediately withdraw the entire amount from your account.) In a weird quirk, they also coded my account “deceased” so there was no income forthcoming until they straightened it out three months later. I felt totally disenfranchised. Was I worth less now that I was no longer half of a twosome?

I miss everything about coupledom – quiet dinners together, evenings out with friends, a hand to hold, a warm body at my side during the difficult nights, a sturdy shoulder to cry on. I light a candle nightly to connect tenuously with him. I’ve had brushes with the five stages of grief but we’re not intimate yet. “Sorrow, anger and depression” — are all consuming. “Acceptance” is an oxymoron.

“You quickly learn who your friends are in good times and bad,” a friend said to me recently. No one ever told me that many would soar with the angles angels to ease my way. My children were (and are) my sustenance, my five grandchildren, dessert.

On the first anniversary of Phil’s death, we gathered to plant a memorial garden in front of the house. Near my mother’s Japanese maple stands another for my dad. Phil’s is at the apex near the sidewalk, much as he stood as the forefront of my life. Ten years later, whenever I pass by,  I can hear strains of music, and the song of his life echoes in my heart.

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