|Susan C. Price |
with her interviewer
By Jonathan Price
I assume that your answers will be outside the bounds of propriety—
Always, I hope.
...but will conform to the knowledge that they take electronic form and are sent out into the ether, and may thus be redacted or reduced by interviewer/interviewee, to avoid insult, injury, truth, boredom, and so as not to violate the Geneva Convention unduly or to hamper the brother-sister relationship. Skip any questions that seem inappropriate. More may follow at some date....
How would you characterize our relationship?
It’s about the best bro-sis one I know of. We grumble and giggle and do not fight. We have never had a seriously cross word as adults, that I want to recall. We have threaded the dangerous rocks of discussing our other relationships without undue judgment, and (a real big problem for many families, according to the advice columns), not had a serious disagreement about how to work with our aging mother, nor the “estate.”
Why do you think we get along so well or don’t?
We agree on most basics: morality, money, politics/philosophy, and have many interests in common…Maybe the big one is how happy we are that we like each other and that we are both happy that our extended family gets along…almost all the time. We like to talk…a lot, and we are very funny, and share a vocabulary. Sometimes, we listen. Shared history that is good (functional family) and (so far) remembered. Memories are a good thing. We have had illness (yours...fixed yeah!) and death (but parents only)…We are fiscally comfortable...So mostly, things are well for each of us and it’s easy to be happy, and pleasant. And, if you disagree with me on this...la la la fingers in ears.
Tell us about your extraordinary relationship with Kathleen and your granddaughter Tehya.
Ah, well, not extraordinary, since I did not actually raise my stepdaughter (though I have been on the fringes of her life since she was 13). I am eternally amazed and grateful that she likes me and loves me and includes me in her life. It’s just so cool, cus K is so cool, bright, extremely stylish, loves food, theatre, and just plain nice. She is funny, a great and devoted psychologist in the schools, and a fabulous mommy to the granddaughter. And, she knows how to whine...on occasion. I dig that. And the granddaughter...whooee, so cute and funny and...well , hope you get one.
To what do your attribute your twin abilities in art and business management?
Basically, I have no friggin idea. But I suspect that the art stuff was a gimmee from Mom. She was very artistic in clothing, house decor, and food. I remember one time I was having a birthday party...a ballerina theme, and Mom hand-painted ballerinas on the invitations. Business management..hmmm, also lay that on the maternal side. Dad was okay...but I got it via mom via GRANDMA ROSE, who was a “business woman” and a “club woman,” I can hear it when I find I want to organize everyone. Heck, if I come into a business and there is a line and it’s disorganized, I smile and gently suggest, “How about we swing the line this way, so we are out of the way of the other folk?” And the management stuff is very deeply ingrained. I need order (I like control). If “stuff” is all over everywhere in the office or living room, I get anxious. Order/management keeps me sane. Well, somewhat.
How long do you expect to live and why?
Mid-80s, just hope I still know who I am. Parental units and grandparental units did not live much longer and though I eat well and exercise...genes will out. And, my fun money will run out by then.
Why have you never married?
At the time Mike and I got together, 32 years ago, he had been married before and felt that the “designation/expectations” did not work for him. He was perfectly willing to be committed to me, but not to be “married.” As I was perfectly happy to be in control of my own finances, and I love my own name, and did not need a white dress to only wear once...this suited me. And now, 32 years and counting, we are domestic partners and a happier couple than many who are married...It’s just a continuing joke between us. :-)
What event of the last 64 years stands out in your memory?
Kennedy’s death. First out of my head. Uh, that public event. Privately...lots of great parties and trips. Italy…always Italy and it’s not just the food, it’s the food and the landscape and the shopping.. no such thing as enough cashmere or leather. Ok, best party ever...and everyone of the 80-some who attended, still agree...my 50th birthday with the dee-jay, and Mike and me lip-synching, “Do You Love Me?” from Fiddler on the Roof. Bobby Short at the Carlyle in NYC. When Mike convinced me that that weird feeling I was having was falling in love.
Who’s your favorite president and why?
Well, I know you are partial to Roosevelt, so I’m beginning to agree. But I’m a simple creature and don’t study history so much...And I do like our current President, the First Lady, and the First Grandma...as she makes it possible for Barack and Michelle to focus.
How do you choose the books you read?
Your recommendations, virtually any friend’s recommendations. Reviews I read in the LA Times, Time, and any other magazines...Interesting covers as I wander the lovely fiction aisles of the Santa Monica Main Public Library.
Have you learned anything unusual from your experiences, your life?
Hmmm, nothing unusual, just that the dark square ones in the See’s box are caramels.
Whom do you despise?
I wish I could say no one...as that would show a great forgiving nature, but anyone who hurts people, and especially children...oh, and folks with cell phones turned on in theatres...Okay, I just don’t understand how Mr. Cheney ...breathes…and right now...the NRA head and Cardinal Mahoney seem pretty unclear on the concept of “nice.”
What advantage have you drawn from speaking Spanish?
My son-in-law likes me, my cleaning lady reveres me?
What’s the most exciting place you ever visited?
NYC, NYC, NYC, Broadway theatres. Italy, Italy, Italy, and Barcelona.
Today what is your opinion of our parents? How do you see them? Where did they go right? How did they go wrong? Try to remember an event about Dad that sticks out, that holds on. What comes up? Why do you think that is? Does it seem characteristic? Do the same for Mom.
I think they did a better than good job. We are both sane and good family people and good citizens. I wish I knew a great deal more about both of them and Dad’s family...but he did not tell all and it’s too late to ask. Right: They wanted to be parents, they loved us and let us know that, they taught us about the basics (right, wrong, where the forks go) and they hired caregivers that were great (Cassie, Addie), so that they could still work, and they taught us their own stuff, art, musical theatre, clothing, style, food, cooking, books, books, books. I don’t see a wrong that stands out. They were not “exercisers” but no one was. And Dad, particularly, was not interested in sports.
Dad. 1. Him being real angry one time when my room was messy (I dont like anyone being angry at me...so I remember that). 2. Him crying at watching a re-run of Mary Martin in Peter Pan on TV. (It was my first intimation of “aging” and adults crying.) 3. The verbal memories of Mr Lieberman and others at Dad’s memorial service. He was their friend, and that mattered. All characteristic. Oh yeah, 4. When it was Christmas season and he joked that the promised item was not coming your way...and you would not talk to him...he was devastated and could not bridge the gap…Hmm was that him or you that....???
Mom. 1. Decorating/setting the seder table at our house for tons of folks by buying a long piece of bright cerise cloth to cover the table, and after, making dresses for both of us from it (she was creative and not “the same” as everyone else’s mom and mostly, I liked that and have tried to emulate that difference). 2. Drawing the angled line in the living room to separate the new carpet from the tile portions. Anyone else would have done a straight line (same stuff). 3. She arranged the memorial service for Dad, because her Salvation Army bosses suggested that “other folks” needed to mark this passage. She was wrong, we needed it. (She wasn’t always right.)
What’s the funniest episode from Mom’s career in dementia? What’s the most painful?
Yeah! this stuff is funny. Dropping the vintage dining chairs from her 8th floor window at the seniors residence. Most painful, the $$##&&* fact that this disease runs in that side of the family and that she got it.
Why do you think you have so many nicknames? What is your favorite? Who are you really?
Maybe cus mom and dad gave me so many as a baby, and inscribed them on my window shade. Fave: Snu...cus only two folks still use it. Who am I..really? Again, I have no #@@%%&& idea.
Who’s your favorite historical, artistic, cultural figure and why?
Wait...just wait...frankly...I’ve spent less time and effort on the SATs!! Ye gods, Jon!!!
Okay...moving on. Historical...no one comes readily to mind. Artistic/cultural…hmmm, probably Oscar Hammerstein and Faulkner toss up...Difference media…Sondheim is right behind and whoa is that gentleman smart and snarky, my favorite combination...reasons why I like you. :-)
What are you trying to do with your art? What do you think of when you start a new painting? Who’s the visual artist you admire most?
Trying to get better at it and to please myself. We say in painting, you know when it’s “done”...I know which of my drawings and paintings are good and which suck and which just don’t quite....All of which has virtually nothing to do with the opinions of others. :-)
When I start: “Oh, shit, let this work” or “I got THIS” and then...I don’t...I think it will work...and it sucks.
Visual artist? mmmm, Picasso, Vlaminck, Bonnard, de Kooning.
You used to read an entire book on a jet from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Do you still do that? How? Why?
Hmmm, don’t do that flight much anymore...Books might have been shorter, can always finish Time magazine in that one hour...And now it’s sooo skinny. Now when I fly, I’m on “vacation” (hah! from retired) and I read mental junk food on vacation, People and fashion mags, like to keep up with the zeitgeist. But I can and do read novels and I am a fast reader and I don’t retain @@&&* much of anything. Just a general...”hmmm...liked that book” impression.
What do you think other people are for? What’s your purpose in living? Would you describe yourself as religious? Why or why not?
Oooh. other people...don’t know. My purpose...whoa, how lofty, is to not get in anyone else’s way and to be nice and kind and give time and a listening ear and help and make folks laugh. Religous...in my way. I hold both opposing views in my mind at the same time. 1. There has to be meaning/gods to make this much beauty and joy. 2 Nah, nothing other than what I can see, it’s all just chance and biologic order (Yeah, so how’d that happen, Ms. Smarty?) and we all die...I don’t do or not do for reward/punishment...but because I know it feels better and right to do good....
What television do you watch when you veg out?
Which I do a lot. Glee, Smash, every Law and Order ever, NCIS, Downton Abbey, The Mentalist.
And I got tired and went to see how long this list is/was. Yikes! didja think you were writing ##@@$$& Remembrance of Things Past...Pass the madeleines, please?
Why do you think when some people dine out in a group they insist on figuring their share of the bill down to the penny, while others are content, even happy to split the bill evenly and quickly, no matter the minor inequalities? In which group are you?
Everyone has an “interesting” relationship with money (and power). Some were poor and therefore trained to be “pennywise.” I like the latter approach...Doesn’t mean I don’t notice it if the even shares seem vastly unfair...I just like the “amity” and swift simplicity of the even shares. And you know I round up, don’t take the tax off and round up past the 20% tip...You KNOW that.
How do you account for Republican politics? What happens when you meet with your Republican friends? Does this topic ever come up?
Uh, my friends to the right and I gingerly discuss this. They bemoan the way the “brand” has moved further to the right and they were always the most liberal of Republicans. I can account for some of the Republican approach: some less government, some more business friendly. But dumping on womens’ rights and Latino rights and the gun thing?...Really?
I know you know, sort of, Whoopie Goldberg and Elliott Gould, and Mel Brooks, and Nina. Any interesting stories? What do you conclude about Hollywood or fame or art or . . .?
I have met and been stupid with the first two...Waaay too chatty. Mr Brooks and the dear Ms Bancroft were...so lovely and friendly...We met them one night at a dinner, and they had to move cus the nutcase seated next to Mr B recognized him and was annoying. I have no conclusions. Some people are nice, most folks don’t want to be bothered as much as we tend to bother “celebrities” and they all have their own battles.
What looking back, do you most regret?
There was one guy in college I probably should have kissed and I did not. I wished I had ignored mother’s distain of anything not modern and kept the silver...but what difference would it make. Rien.
What are you passionate about?
Mike, my family, musical theatre, food, niceness.
Do you use fractals in your work? Gerbils?
YES, fractals are the special way I move my hands to see images for my art work and the gerbils do all the bookkeeping for me.
Do you have any regrets?
See three back...STOOPID!
If there is something you wish you had done, could have done, what is it? Is there a city you would rather have lived in? A person you wish were your best friend or a friend, or you knew slightly. If you could go to anybody’s party on a certain day, whose party? Which day?
Wait, did I miss a party?...What are we talking about? Nope, I love Santa Monica...You are up to something here, and I am missing it
If you had coffee with the president in the next 10 minutes what would you say to him?
“Thanks so much for putting yourself and your family on the line for this nation, and thank Michelle.”
Suppose it were the Pope.
“If the church is to survive, it needs to apologize largely for child abuse and think again about how many kids we all need….”
Suppose it were Jesus.
“Thanks, you were a very good guy, it’s just that some of your followers got a little off-message.”
Suppose it were God.
“Duuude, what’s with the armadillo and hurting folks, but basically, thanks for all the beauty and joy and letting me come to the party.”
What do you think is the most serious issue confronting human beings today? Numbers of beings versus resources and resource distribution. Uh, faking it here to get to issues of...global warming, clean water, and greed. Ah back to ethics, are we?
Explain to the reader why you are sometimes known as the Beverly Glen Gazette.
Because I talk and tell what I hear. So daddy learned early not to tell me what he was going to buy at the corner drugstore—at the end of Beverly Glen, our street—as I would blab to all the neighbors. I am friendly and will talk to anyone/everyone. I now know...usually, what not to tell.
You forgot to mention that we used to live on a very small street in Chicago called Beverly Glen Parkway and that Dad, observing your behavior, gave you that moniker. Oh well, an editor and a brother occasionally spoils the flow here….
What do you want to do when you grow up?
Easy, not grow up. As you might remember, my favorite quote is from Jason Robards’s character in A Thousand Clowns...as he described his missing sister: “She has a philosophy of life somewhere to the left of whoopee.” :-)
Another good quote from same source is that when “Max” is asked to face reality, he says “I’ll come, but only as a tourist.”
You have been a kind of surrogate mother for your deceased roommates’ orphaned children and have stayed in touch with them and been invited to their marriages. This is above and beyond the call of duty. You were the central contact person and a kind of caregiver to a friend who began to deteriorate at the end of mid-life and saw her through until her death, despite her occasional lack of gratitude and irrational outbursts. Why do you think you did these things?
I like to be needed, and acknowledged. It’s all for me...So it’s not really a duty. And I have other not-so-sweet motivations in the latter case, as you know. I stood to inherit and my managing the estate ensured that I would. I am NO ##$$&& saint.
Why do you think you are so fond of genteel profanity, and never use a four-letter word in print?
Well, she huffed, my profanity is not genteel. I am not using it on this blog as I’m not certain that all readers are family and used to me.
Copyright © 2013 by Jonathan Price & Susan C. Price