Archive for January 2008

The Today Show, Meredith and Me

January 24th, 2008 — 6:59pm

I got back late last night from a quick trip to New York. Ann Gentry, executive chef of Vegetarian Times and owner of Real Food Daily in LA did a cooking segment on the Today Show. In about two minutes she: 1. Mentioned the name of Vegetarian Times 2. Mentioned the new “Vegetarian Times 2008 Vegetarianism in America Study,” which included the stat that almost 40 million Americans are interested in eating more meatless meals 3) that vegans exist 4) the merits of tofu. And all this with a gaggle of hosts butting in on her air time. I tell you, that Ann is a total pro, and I was proud of her!

Before she was on, Meredith Vieira passed me in the hall. I literally said, “oh, oh, oh, Meredith!” (or something eloquent like that). And I told her she was an inspiration. And then, she hugged me! Really, I am such a tourist sometimes.

Later, she passed me again (okay, I was seated outside her dressing room, watching Ann on the hall monitor) and she playfully tapped my foot and said “Oh, you!” And I laughed and pointed at her and said, “No, you!” Well, maybe this doesn’t translate and you had to be there, but what I saw was a lovely, intelligent, alive woman. (I also saw Matt Lauer – lots of pancake makeup, and Ann Curry, who seemed very “on”).

I didn’t get a chance though, to tell Meredith why she inspired me. Because, she had the guts to walk away from big jobs. Because her family seems to come first. Because she hasn’t had a face lift (or botox or restylne) and has the courage to face 6 million people (or more?) everyday with her real facel. Because she is real, and given her line of work, that’s impressive.

After Ann’s appearance, Ann and I shared a bite to eat. Then I walked up Fifth Avenue from the NBC studio on 54th street, up to 76th Street where I was staying. The air was cold. I passed Central Park, saw the horse and cabs parked outside the Plaza , the rich ladies in mink coats, the doormen who tipped their hats and said “Hello, young lady.” And if I had a hat, I’d fling it up into the air, a la Mary Tyler Moore, just for the sheer joy of it all.

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Vegetarian Times on the Today Show

January 19th, 2008 — 7:03pm

I’m off to New York for a few days. I booked Ann Gentry, executive chef of Vegetarian Times, and owner of Real Food Daily vegan restaurants in L.A., on the show. Ann is wonderful — funny, irreverent, and if ever there was a girl to introduce the merits of tofu to Topeka, she’s it.

The segment is on Wednesday, January 23rd, in the 9:30 am slot.

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Brahmari Breath

January 19th, 2008 — 7:00pm

I’ve been at the Yoga Journal San Francisco Conference these past few days, and had the privilege to study with Ana Forrest, a master teacher. She began her class with some pranayama, in order to get our energy moving through our bodies. We practiced Brahmari breath, a technique where you hum different notes to activate your various chakras. It’s a fascinating exercise. The higher the chakra, the higher the note. I found I could most easily access my throat chakra and heart chakra, meaning that the frequency of the note vibrated in these areas. I couldn’t reach my 6th, on the top of my head, or barely my first, in my groin area. What I did notice was some humming that sounded pretty, and I got the distinct sense that some people were humming what they thought they should be humming, and not what truly resonated in their bodies.

This is the value of a practice. To reflect back on ourselves when we are being truthful, and when we’re not. To engage with the authentic responses of the body.

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January 10th, 2008 — 7:45pm

“I can get you into Handstand,” yoga teacher Scott Blossom said to me

Since I’ve been practicing the pose on and off for 14 years, and no teacher has yet taught me to kick up fully by myself, you can imagine my skepticism. But since I was at my absolute, drop dead deadline for filing a piece on facing my Handstand fears for Yoga Journal, I thought I’d give it one more try. (I had actually already filed the piece and ended it with my still trying, proud of my gumption).

Scott gives me beautiful instruction on how to stack the arms, focusing my attention on my forearms. He shows me how to relax my Trapezius muscles, which often seize up when you try to kick. He shows me how to bring breath into my arms and back. But most important, he instructs me to drop all my stories about what I think and feel about the pose. That my ego is not queen of the show. That I don’t have to be a hero. To observe, not judge, and “simply witness.”

So I do. I go to the wall, follow his instructions, and with him standing beside me, I kick up.

He is a brilliant teacher, and I am a grateful student.

I’ve also learned that the stories we tell ourselves are not always true (I can kick up, I can’t. I’m too weak, too curvy, too old, fill in the blank). And, that bearing witness to your own life is an astounding gift.

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Dr. Phil's Noble Excuse

January 9th, 2008 — 9:50pm

Dr. Phil has been justly flayed for making his visit to Britney Spears public and trying to capitalize on her mental state. This was his response:

“Somebody needs to step up and get this young woman into some quality care — and I do not apologize one whit, not one second, for trying to make that happen.”

Whatever happened to privacy, Dr. Phil? Or is “helping” another not worth doing unless it lands you press coverage and money is to be made?

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Britney, Robert Altman, and Dr. Phil

January 5th, 2008 — 5:05pm

Yep – she’s a mess. Yep – she needs help. But from Dr. Phil?

According to Us Weekly, Dr. Phil visited Britney in the hospital today.


britney spears, dr phil

Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

“My meeting with Britney and some family members this morning in her room at Cedars leaves me convinced more than ever that she is in dire need of both medical and psychological intervention,” he said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. “I am very concerned for her.”

Yes, Dr. Phil, I’m sure you are. And that is why the article goes on to say “Dr. Phil will share more details from his chat with the “Gimme More” singer on his daytime show next week.”

He’s a bottom feeder in the guise of a therapist. I’m sure Britney’s had that kind of “help” before, someone who wants to sponge off of her fame, now despair.

So what does all this have to do with Robert Altman?

In his great film, Nashville, the last scene is of a singer being assassinated by a troubled loner. As she’s carted off stage, the microphone is thrust into a young wannabe country singer as she gets up, sings her heart out, and has probably launched her career. On the body of the one just hauled off.

This is what reminds me of Dr. Phil and Britney. He’s not launching a career (Oprah did that for him), but he’s stepping on the dead and hurt bodies of the troubled to gather more fame. The same tawdry view of the universe Altman depicted in his wonderful film.

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Remembering Bob Watts

January 5th, 2008 — 8:45am

Bob Watts

Bob Watts, the talented and kind art director of, died yesterday morning after a long battle with cancer.

I didn’t know Bob well, but had the good fortune to work with him for the two years I was at Salon. He was immensely kind, compassionate, and a little bit arch. When I would see him, his wife and now teenage daughter at the Salon retreats up in California’s Gold Country, I was always struck by the palpable sense of love they all shared.

The world lost a good soul yesterday.

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Barack and Mike

January 4th, 2008 — 1:38pm


A few months ago, I wrote that Obama had an aura of invincibility around him. But I regretted writing those words, because a year is a very long time in national politics.

Yet he won last in Iowa last night, and I found myself amazed, delighted, and heartened that maybe, just maybe, this country was ready to elect an African-American President.

In some ways, both Huckabee and Obama represent the essence of what their parties stand for. Huckabee represents allegiance to the evangelical base (with no knowledge of international affairs — as my husband Scott writes in his blog –“that worked so well last time!”) Obama represents renewals and change.

I do not underestimate Hillari Clinton. She’s a formidable adversary. But I’m putting my money on Obama getting the nomination.

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Trader Joes, China, and Black Beans

January 2nd, 2008 — 7:26pm

We usually buy our cans of organic black beans from Trader Joes. I noticed while opening a can the other day, that on the top it was stamped, “Product of China”.


With all the alternative sources of black beans available, Trader Joes imports them from a country that has routinely sold tainted food products?

So I sent them and email and told them I was concerned. Here was their reponse:

“Thank you for taking the time to contact Trader Joe’s with your concerns regarding China. At Trader Joe’s, we have been dealing with standards
and practices in many different countries for over 49 years, and our buyers are diligent about making sure our suppliers and the products
they provide are not below standards set in the United States.

Certainly some companies in China, and other parts of the world, are far behind the times when it comes to organics, etc; however we do not do
business with those companies. We also have high expectations from our vendors. If we do not feel safe eating it ourselves, there is no way we would be willing to put our name on it. We have stringent Quality Assurance measures in place to ensure that not only the USDA/FDA requirements are being met but ours as well.

We require FDA regulated GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and HACCP Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) program of our vendors.
HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating and controlling food safety hazards. In addition, our Quality Assurance Team
audits our vendors to monitor their facilities and practices to ensure cleanliness and safety.

While we are confident in both the safety and quality of our Chinese made products, our customers have let us know they are not. Trader
Joe’s has, therefore, begun the process of finding alternative sources for the products we currently source from China. The process should be
complete in early 2008.”

In other words, even though they still believe their products are safe, they will find alternative sources anyway because of customer concerns. Why? Because they would lose customers and market share if they didn’t.

As someone who earns her bread by practicing the craft of pr, I applaud them for getting back to me in a prompt manner with a form letter that doesn’t read like one. It’s a good lesson in how pr can help avert a potential crisis, instead of inflaming one.

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