Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Service of Reunions

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Reunion 2

I’m not a big fan of school or college reunions although I loved my time at the institutions.

You can count on one hand the number I’ve attended. I know the amount of work and time involved with determining the topics, gathering the right speakers, planning the dinners and satellite events and marketing them all to gather a crowd.

I attended select parts of a recent one.

I can understand why Truman Capote wrote “Answered Prayers,” the tell-all book that destroyed his relationship with best friends such as Babe Paley and Gloria Vanderbilt. He was angry. So was I. 

Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”

Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”

However apart from the obvious differences between us, such as audience size and prominence, the first draft of this post, [torn up now], and Truman’s book differ in that mine wasn’t about others’ secrets; it covered snarky or off-the-wall comments of former classmates. And it didn’t give sufficient credit to the generosity of the couple who throw elegant dinner parties for class members and their partners to celebrate these occasions or the speakers at the discussion I attended.

Andrea Thompson, in an article on livescience.com, wrote “Bad Memories Stick Better Than Good.” She quoted Elizabeth Kensinger, Boston College, who reviewed research on emotional memories. “‘It really does matter whether [an event is] positive or negative in that most of the time, if not all of the time, negative events tend to be remembered in a more accurate fashion than positive events,’ Kensinger said.”

What inspires people to say thoughtless, nasty things at events such as reunions? Do you attend them? Do you remember the bad parts more than the good or is it all good?

 reunion

Service of Long Lasting Brands

Monday, April 11th, 2011

brands

There are branding specialists galore who help people create and maintain brands, their own, a product’s, a company or corporation’s. Yes, people are considered brands today to be packaged like a good or decorative element.

I’m forever fascinated by the longevity of so many who made a mark that continues to achieve buzz and attention even though the venerated person is either no longer in the public eye and most frequently is long dead or out of the public eye well before the word brand was in fashion.

brigettebardotThe April 7 issue of FurnitureSeen that appeared in my emailbox last week featured a Hepburn Modular Sofa which, the copy noted, could have been inspired by either Katherine or Audrey–and Bardot, a “curvaceous seating collection” for which the Spanish designer Jamie Hayon had the French 1950s/1960s movie siren Brigitte Bardot in mind.

Estée Lauder died in April 2004 and yet she still makes headlines for her namesake company that now sells 28 brands. In The New York Times article, “What Would Estée Do?” Natasha Singer quotes longtime employee and global brand president Jane Hertsmark Hudis: “I think a lot of us ask ourselves, ‘What would Leonard do? I also ask myself: ‘What would Estée Lauder do? Am I upholding her values and her vision?'” Leonard A. Lauder is chairman emeritus and Estée’s oldest son.

The End Note of Culture & Leisure Magazine‘s issue No. 44 features a smiling Coco Chanel and a quote, “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” The issue of this smart, fashionable, visionary publication was devoted to southern debutantes and editor/founder Natalie Rushing chooses to remember Chanel.

doris-dayDoes anyone think often of Doris Day these days? Will Friedwald interviewd the top grossing actress of all time recently for The Wall Street Journal‘s Leisure & Arts section in “Sunny Day Keeps on Shining.” Friedwald spoke with Doris on the phone-she doesn’t like being called Ms. Day-who said that when she moved to Carmel, California 30 years ago “I put all my records and everything away. I didn’t think anybody cared if they heard me or not.” And yet she continues to get fan letters and is perplexed that “after so many years out of the spotlight, her recordings and films continue to be cherished by generation after generation.” Friedwald adds that Sony Music will release a retrospective box set later in the year.

What do you think makes a brand long lasting? Does it help if the inspiration is dipped in the rosy glow of selective memory and is no longer in the harsh eye of public scrutiny that seems to enjoy watching people fall? Did these stars of business, fashion and film represent a kind of quality we miss or try to achieve today? Do you consider yourself a brand?

public-eye

Service of Memorials

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

cemetary2

Many remembered and honored the victims of terrorism on the 9th anniversary of September 11 this weekend. The outpouring of emotion and media coverage in the New York City area was poignant.

A friend asked me, “Why are we making such a big deal over 9/11, when,” he noted, “nobody did or does about World War II where so many more people suffered and died–or over other wars for that matter?”  So I decided to share my point of view.

This memorial recognition, while related to the topic of patriotism that I wrote about  in “Service of Independence Day,” is different. It has to do with respect and gratitude.

Back to my friend’s words: I think his impression depends on how you define “big deal” and “nobody” and how people honored their war dead in the past and are comfortable expressing emotion today.

stvincentdepaul2As a child, I attended a yearly memorial mass with my father at the French church, St. Vincent de Paul in New York City. Dad, a World War II veteran and prisoner of war who escaped, was French. In the back of the church, dressed in military uniform, musicians blew trumpets and horns mid-service, so loud that most jumped in their seats, startled even if they anticipated the alarm. The church was always full.

That was largely the extent to which Dad shared his war experience with me, although it scarred his life and his family’s.

normandy-beach2I visited Normandy a few years ago and couldn’t face the cemeteries with thousands of crosses and stars of David and I didn’t know one of those fallen soldiers. Instead, I marveled at Normandy Beach-so barren with not a bush or tree to hide behind. I was awestruck when I saw, in three dimensions, how exposed those soldiers were. You’ve seen the soldiers jump off the boats into enemy gunfire in movies and vintage newsreels. My husband’s uncle landed at that beach and survived. Just imagine.

There are over 58 thousand names on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. Other memorials, such as Holocaust Museums or Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam, attract millions yearly from around the world.

So why does one horrific event that exterminated a few thousand continue to pull on our heartstrings and how come we recognize these dead, almost a decade later, from what was equivalent to a battle more than a war, with the same fervor as the year after? The raw wound might be because the act broke all rules of war; attackers victimized innocent citizens and involved no military forces. We are more vocal and emotional than our forebears where stiff upper lip was the fashion. And, I think, we are still shocked by the sheer below-the-belt, horrific ramifications of it all.

What do you think?

worldtradecenter

Service of Memory

Monday, July 12th, 2010

sunset

We drove by a remarkable orange and magenta sunset backing a mountain view. A man had pulled off the road to take some photos and at first I was annoyed with myself for driving in the country with neither my camera nor my phone.

To console myself I remembered how I tend to best recall missed incredible photos more distinctly than most of the thousands I’ve taken and put away in albums or boxes. The mother and daughter on horseback early in the morning in either Upper or Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds is another example. I had no film–it was that long ago–but I see the two of them emerging from the fog, dressed for the hunt.

We have selective memories. If a doctor or nurse asks me details of some disease I’ve had I have to think long and hard to remember the year or details. I know folks who can relate every gruesome detail. I may recall a childhood event neither friends nor relatives do. Conversely, they reminisce about a party or conversation that seems new to me, yet they assure me I was there.

politicianCan you imagine being a politician, being held accountable for details you really can’t remember? “You said this in 12th grade when you ran for treasurer and stood for that at overnight camp! You belonged to the such and such club as a college freshman and your first job out of college was at XYZ, tisk, tisk, and didn’t you once baby-sit for the so-and so’s?” [Actually, I remember all of that…but I shudder to think what I’ve forgotten.]

I’m amazed at some of the insignificant details I do recall–a psychiatrist would either have a heyday or fall asleep. [I’m of average size now, went through a few too-thin periods and was a blimpette until I was 14. I vividly see myself sitting in assembly hall in school looking down at the fattest thighs in America–through senior year.]

I tend to try to remember happy events or interactions and on occasion test unhappy ones-as you might touch a black and blue mark to see if it still hurts or has healed. What a fabulous feeling of relief–as when Advil erases a headache–when something that had me swiveted to the Nth degree no longer bothers: That boss or friend who lied or took advantage, for example.

anger2I’ve heard that it’s bad for your health to masticate past upsets and forever grind them around inside, keeping them alive for years. Resulting anger makes you grumpy. It’s probably best to be grouchy sometimes to protect you from the fate described in the saying “Only the good die young,” but best not overdo.

Do you tend to brood endlessly over the negative or select the happier moments from your memory bank? What seemingly insignificant details do you remember from the past? Why? Are you shocked when an old friend or long lost cousin recounts hilarious tales that your memory has dismissed?

 memory

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