Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yet Another Powerful Man Thinks With HIs...

Sex and powerful men.

It's a repeat topic on this blog because it's a constant issue in the real world. That potent - ha! - combination of power and alpha male, the possibility of taming it, the headiness of proximity to it.

Understandable on the part of women (or men) who find these characteristics irresistible. (Who wouldn't?) And equally so for the alpha male, who constantly believes he can get away with sexual gratification on the sly -- that is, until the media or some whistleblower is nipping at his heels, ready to expose him.

But seriously, won't these guys ever learn? How many of them will crash and burn, just from their inability to keep their pants on? My opinion: they'll never learn, and it'll happen as long as humans populate this planet.

General Petraeus is a true American hero. He's an awesome guy, no question about it. Squared-away, career military, four-star general, CENTCOM commander, director of the CIA, and totally respected in all circles of all political stripes. (You can check out his bio on Wiki -- I always thought it was kinda neat that he grew up in my neck of the woods, right here in the Hudson Valley.)

So why -WHY? - would a straight-shooter, high-roller, man who has everything risk it all for a beautiful, brilliant woman? Did he honestly think no one would EVER know? Did he think it wouldn't matter (like, not even to his now publicly humiliated, and fairly homely, but loyal, ├╝beradmirable wife?) if he compromised himself like this?

Or did he just think with his --? Well, you know. Yeah. He did.

And what about his partner? The other woman? Was she too intoxicated by his magnetism as the alpha male to consider the 'what if?' What if her husband found out? What if her two young kids were exposed to her extra-curricular activities? What was in it for her? Instant gratification, without regard for the consequences to herself, and to her family.

A powerful man is once again toppled by sex. Again.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ode to My Doggie

Okay, this is indirectly related to this blog.  My writing buddy - my Golden Retriever,  who always  kept me company, even during my 36-hour writing marathons -- is no longer part of the living. Her suffering and passing caused me much sorrow, and a serious slowdown in all my writing.

Jenna, my beloved Golden Retriever, after valiantly battling a slow-growing brain tumor for 14 months, finally succumbed on Thursday, August 18, 2012. At age 15, the tumor ruptured a few days earlier. Sweet and loving companion to the end, it was only in her last 48 hours that she became completely immobile and disoriented, and ultimately, just ... tired.  It was her time, much as it broke my heart.

Jenna was a devoted member of my family, providing unconditional love, sweet retriever smiles, wagging tail, and soft warm eyes that glowed with affection and kindness. She played with my children as they grew from being toddlers to college-bound young adults, ran steadily with my husband on 5-mile jaunts until she was 11, stayed by my side as multiple sclerosis stole my mobility and shoved me into a wheelchair shortly after her rescue.

I adopted her, sight unseen, at 11 months of age, in May 1998 -- the best Internet purchase I ever made, the best money I ever spent. Jenna came into this world with a proud lineage that included Topbrass Kennels in her background, surrendered by some fool who had no clue about the treasure s/he had. Thank goodness, because that's how she entered our lives.

While I had always been an avid advocate for neglected and abandoned animals (my kitty is a rescue also), Jenna proved even more strongly that rescuing a dog not only provides the gift of a new life to the dog, but provides a treasured addition to the recipient family.

She even rescued me, when an adverse reaction to one of many (ineffective) MS drugs caused me to go into a seizure - she barked frantically, racing up and down the stairs to summon help. Little did I know that 9 years later, I would be nurturing her through her own seizures as a brain tumor silently and slowly wrecked havoc on her brain.

Incredible dog, more human than most humans.

I was lucky to have her -- happy, healthy and wonderful -- for so long. Even in her last year of life, when she was presented with so many struggles, she faced them with the valor and intelligence of her breed, and with the love and trust for us, her family, that makes her passing so unbearably sad. There is a huge void in my life now.
I just got a puppy: a Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees rescued from a Georgia kill shelter when she was maybe a few weeks old. The peepee poopy accidents and constant chewing are distracting me from my writing, but the breath of babyhood is wonderful.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Are Divorce Judges REALLY that mean?

Ummmm...Yeah.  They tend to be hot-headed.

You could say they max out from hearing sordid, petty, nasty personal battles, day in, day out.  Or that they get fed up with how divorcing parties often make things up (okay, LIE) to try to get an advantage in their cases. Or that they tend to be judges on the bottom of the totem pole who get assigned to matrimonial cases until they work their way up the judicial ladder over the years.

Or maybe - maybe - some people have no damn business being judges at all.

Regardless of the reasons, matrimonial judges do tend to be heavy-handed -- sometimes downright nasty. And this judge in West Virginia is, unfortunately, not an anomaly. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I've Been A Bad Blogger

I have so many ideas for posts, but no time to write 'em. Instead, as my novel, Client Relations lumbers past its fourth year of existence, I've been alternatively leaping and slogging through revisions, up all night and then some. Hoping THIS will be my year... But I can't keep ignoring Bedroom to Courtroom like this, not when so much stuff is happening. From the John Edwards trial to the London Whale; from the latest craziness in the practice of law, to the insanity of Fifty Shades of Shit making it to the top of the bestseller list. Time to take a break from Client Relations soon, I think, or be forever dumping on myself as the world's crappiest blogger!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Razzle Dazzle- Top Fictional Lawyers

Ahh, my endless and, I hope, soon-to-be-ended, revisions to my novel, Client Relations, have made me examine my protagonist's stakes once again. And her "character arc." How she starts off as in the story, how she changes. I confess, I'm still mired in a quagmire, trying to define her.

So, after another all-nighter (no, they didn't end in college or law school), I stumbled on this fun article in the ABA Journal about the top 25 fictional lawyers of all time (excluding the awesomely righteous Atticus Finch).

I agree with 15 of them (asterisked)....

The ABA's choices are, in this order:

*1. Frank Galvin, "The Verdict"
*2. Paul Biegler, "Anatomy of a Murder"
3. Perry Mason
*4. Professor Kingsfield, "The Paper Chase"
*5. Henry Drummond, "Inherit the Wind"
6. Lawrence Preston, "The Defenders"
7. Jack McCoy, "Law and Order"
8. Rumpole, "Rumpole of the Bailey"
*9. Judge Haywood, "Judgment at Nuremberg"
*10. Sir Wilfred, "Witness for the Prosecution"
11. Alan Shore, "Boston Legal"
*12. Vinny Gambini, "My Cousin Vinny"
13. Lt. Kaffee, "A Few Good Men"
*14. Arnie Becker, "LA Law"
*15. Arthur Kirkland, "And Justice For All"
*16. Hans Rolfe, "Judgment at Nuremberg"
17. Mitchell Stephens, "The Sweet Hereafter"
18. Ally McBeal
*19. Sandy Stern, "Presumed Innocent"
*20. Patty Hewes, "Damages" - YAY,a woman!
*21. Michael Clayton
*22. Jake Brigance, "A Time To Kill"
*23. Rusty Sabich, "Presumed Innocent"
24. Forest Bedford, "I'll Fly Away"
25. Jonathan Wilk, "Compulsion"

My changes?

Delete ten of the ABA picks: Perry Mason (too cardboard-y); Lawrence Preston (who?); Jack McCoy (too annoying); Rumpole (too bleah); Alan Shore (ridiculous); Lt. Kaffee (too wide-eyed); Mitchell Stephens, Forest Bedford and Jonathan Wilk (never heard of them); and Ally McBeal (OMG, seriously?)

I'd add ten other lawyers instead:
Tom Hagen,"The Godfather"(Robert Duvall's character)
Karen Crowder, "Michael Clayton"(Tilda Swinton's character)
Ellen Parsons, "Damages"(Rose Byrne's character
Gene Hackman as Jedediah Ward in "Class Action" and Avery Tolar in "The Firm"
Joe Miller,"Philadelphia" (Denzel Washington's character)
Reggie Love, "The Client"(Susan Sarandon's character)
Benjamin Stone, "Law and Order"(Michael Moriarty's character)
Alicia Florick,"The Good Wife" (Juliana Margulies' character)
Billy Flynn,"Chicago"

Time for more women lawyers...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Shaming the Divorce Bar in New Mexico- and Everywhere

The Huff Po often swipes the news from other media - usually with an uber-compelling, National Enquirer-type headline.

So when I saw a headline in Huff Po Divorce about a rogue lawyer caught on tape breaking and entering the home of his client's estranged husband, I figured it was the usual sensationalist, anti-lawyer nonsense. You know, where the questionable misdeeds of one crazy-bad guy are supposed to portray the theoretical reality of the rest of us members of the matrimonial bar. And because I've posted an occasional blog on Huff Po Divorce, and attracted the ire of lawyer-hating Internet surfers - I know from personal experience just how nasty lawyer-bashing can get on Huff Po Divorce.

But this time? OMG, the "target" lawyer managed to shame not only himself but the entire legal profession.

Despicable Lawyer Raymond Van Amam not only broke into and entered his client's estranged husband's home in a violent fashion, destroying and absconding with the personal property inside - INCLUDING the husband's personal legal papers!!- but embraced his female client in an uncomfortably intimate fashion for at least twenty seconds, after he insisted, "I want a hug, I need some relaxation!"

It made my skin crawl when I heard him murmur, "Shh shh shh shh shh, oh yeahhh, put it behind you, shh shh shh shh shh oh yeahhhhh." The client didn't seem to realize that his moves were absolutely improper.

Just wrong. I sincerely hope the New Mexico Bar does NOT allow Mr. Van Amam, who used to be president of the local bar association, to put any part of his disgusting conduct behind him. He was suspended from practice once before, for cocaine. For crying out loud, get rid of this man's law license!!

The Huff Po's story generated only six comments:

Versus the hundreds of comments generated in response to posts about Newt's infidelities and Susan Sarandon's divorce.

This is my comment (only the seventh comment in response to the story):

This is amazing - this story generated only SIX comments????

As a member of the matrimonial bar, I find the misconduct of Mr. Van Amam an absolute disgrace. I can't fathom his being permitted to continue to practice law after such egregious behavior, captured on videotape for heaven's sake.

Breaking and entering, destroying and absconding with personal property -- and to top it off, asking his female client for "relaxation" and tightly embracing. (His sarcastic comments to the estranged husband are despicable too...)

Appalling misconduct. I shudder to think of the damage this guy could cause to tarnish our reputation even more - that is, if the world of Internet surfers cared about something other than the latest celebrity train wreck.

I guess I should be relieved no one's paying attention to this.

All I can say to this is.. unbelievable.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Realm of Civil Discourse

Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, calling anyone, let alone a student with the temerity to testify in Congress, a "slut" and a "prostitute" for no reason whatsoever - other than your personal disagreement with the subject of the tesimony - goes beyond any semblance of public discourse. … _blog.html

I went to Georgetown Law, as well as to Georgetown for my undergraduate degree. We were always excited by politics on The Hill, a short trip downtown. A lot of students interned there - Republicans as well as Democrats.

Georgetown is a Jesuit institution.  Jebbie priests are all over the campus (not so much at the law school) and many of the theology and philosophy required courses are taught by them - or were, back when I was there.  While Jesuits are committed to excellence in education, as a Catholic institution, Georgetown has certain policies that are annoying or objectionable to many students, and lead to lively discourse among the students and professors.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh verbally assaulted Sandra Fluke, who is a third-year Georgetown Law student (she's in her final year, and is going to be looking for a job upon graduation thus spring unless she already landed one - Georgetown Law students are luckier than many) as a "slut"  and a "prostitute" merely for testifying on the Hill, before a House Democratic committee (the Republican House committee said her request to testify had come in too late to allow her to testify about Georgetown's restrictive contraception insurance policies). (I wonder what he would have called her if she were a male student... )

I just called the alumnae office at the law school.  They were extremely appreciative of my call, and said they are ensuring that this law student feels safe and supported. And they're protecting her from being bombarded with blasts from the outside as best they can. 

They have assured me in the strongest possible terms - and this is consistent with my experience with Georgetown- that they, as an institution, are proud of all Georgetown students, professors and alums who engage in any form of public service.

Ms. Fluke is being trained to be an advocate. As she proceeds with her law career, there will undoubtedly be times when invectives will fly because of a position she's taken. Lord knows I heard enough of it as a matrimonial lawyer... In a sense, I suppose this is good training for what she may face in the future, in the courtroom or at the negotiating table. Because nobody, at least in my experience, ever attacked me at that level, in such insulting terms, even in the matrimonial field. So if she can handle Rush Limbaugh's garbage, she can handle anything.

But that really begs the question: why should she, or anyone else, have to handle this offensive verbal barrage at all?

I feel better having taken SOME action - a simple phone call, leaving my contact info - to express my support for this student.

But my outrage remains, and it seems the law school is equally outraged at the sexist verbal abuse that's been hurled at one of their students.

As should we all, regardless of our political leanings.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Triple Goddess Twilight

So this post has absolutely nothing to do with divorce...
But it has everything to do with creativity and recognition and, above all, passion.

I posted it two days ago on

When Alicia Keys sang “Send Me An Angel” at Whitney Houston’s funeral, her emotions throwing her pitch off and sending her tone into the raw zone, ( I realized (even more than I previously had) why I’m such an Alicia fan:  I hear Laura Nyro in her.

I don’t hear Laura in too many artists.  In fact, although she’s influenced countless musicians over the past four decades, I can’t think of anyone, save Alicia, who has Laura in them. That intensity.  Her incredible songwriting talent, the astonishing lyrics, a powerful 2 ½ octave voice in her heyday, her reliance on no one but herself to provide piano accompaniment-- and above all, that oft-cited, miscited and misunderstood intangible called soul.

Let me get the info dump out of the way: Laura Nyro was born and bred in the Bronx, half-Jewish and half-Italian, trained in NYC’s famous High School of Performing Arts, managed by David Geffen and mentored by a young Clive Davis (later, Whitney Houston’s mentor). Wikipedia has all the dull stats, mostly correct.  She was strongly influenced by early Motown - Curtis Mayfield and Smokey Robinson, two of my most beloved r&b artists (“People Get Ready,” “Move On Up,” “Tracks of My Tears,” “Ooh Baby Baby” etc.) were among her favorites - as most clearly evidenced by her joyful collaboration with Patti LaBelle in 1971 (Gonna Take A Miracle).

Laura’s best known songs are her earlier, more pop-like tunes, which were tossed into the mainstream by the successful commercial artists who covered them – like “Stoney End” covered by Barbra Streisand, “Eli’s Comin’” covered by Three Dog Night, “And When I Die” covered by Blood, Sweat and Tears, and “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Stoned Soul Picnic” covered by the Fifth Dimension.   Here’s a hilarious comparison: “Sweet Blindness,” covered by the Fifth Dimension with Frank Sinatra, in sparkly 5D regalia, piping in and Laura: ((sorry about the creepy ad on You Tube)

By the early 1980’s, Laura became an ardent feminist, breaking sharply from the heterosexual adventures that had formed the crux of her musical forays through 1976’s Smile.  And she became very agenda-oriented by the mid- to late 1980’s, writing songs about animal rights and the injustices suffered by Native Americans.  A recluse by nature, Laura died in 1997 at the unripe age of 49 of ovarian cancer.

Info dump over.  So, does Laura Nyro – finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in December 2011 after being dissed for at least a decade - ring a bell with you now?  Hope so… 

Laura circa 1970 was approaching the height of her musical prowess.  In live performances, she surpassed the quality of her studio work in terms of both her passion and her vocal virtuosity. E.g., and   (I’m not sure when this was recorded, but it sounds like early to mid-70’s: - I’m sticking it in here not only because I love her cover of this Dr. John song, but because she sounds so damn great.) 

I was just a kid back then, hanging with a bunch of badass kids from the wrong side of the tracks. We spent most of our free time (and we made sure we had a LOT of free time) singing and harmonizing with our record players spinning 45’s  – not just Curtis and Smokey, but the Staples Singers, Aretha, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, the Temps, the Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, the Supremes, Jean Knight, the Jackson Five, Isaac Hayes, the Stylistics, Marvin Gaye, the Isley Brothers, the Delfonics… Lord, I miss those artists from Stax and Atlantic and Motown...

It wasn’t until 1973 that I discovered Laura, and she quickly became my personal goddess.  Not a difficult musical leap for a white girl with a deep-rooted love of 70’s soul.  I remember the first time I heard “Poverty Train” on Eli and the Thirteen Confession with its wailing beginning- “Last call……..,” slipping into a strong, syncopated ¾ blues tempo directly following a long “yeahhhhhh.”  I was hooked. And since my vocal and piano skills were somewhat akin to hers, I practiced and performed her music throughout high school and college – her music was and is as much a part of me as those early soul singers ever were. 

I’ll never forgive myself for not seeing one of her famous Bottom Line shows in NYC until the early 90’s.  By then, her voice had been vanquished by too many years of cigarettes and hard living.  She was obese, puffed over an electric (yuk!) piano, struggling to reach any note above an A (the one above middle C, where she and I both switch to soprano mode).  The audience fawned over her every note anyway, indifferent to her shocking vocal missteps and limited piano skills.  Me, I was horrified and bitterly disappointed.

But I digress as usual…

Laura’s debut album was followed by a trilogy of what I believe to be among the most brilliant, mind-bending, gut-wrenching, personal collections of songs ever assembled: Eli and The Thirteenth Confession, New York Tendaberry, and Christmas and The Beads of Sweat (which has a superb cover of Carole King’s “Up on the Roof”). I could write volumes about each album.  Instead, I’ll simply quote one song from each:

Kisses from you in the flames of December’s boudoir
They fill me like melons
Touch me with chivalry
“December’s Boudoir,” from Eli and the Thirteenth Confession

New York tendaberry, blueberry
Rush on rum of brush and drum
And the past is a blue note inside me
“New York Tendaberry,” title track from New York Tendaberry

Merry boat on the river, freedom
Fresh dreams to deliver freedom
Over and over and over and over I call out your name
God’s standing on the brown earth
“Brown Earth,” from Christmas and the Beads of Sweat

The harmonies on these albums, usually on the chorus, are all tracked over by Laura, and their excitement and joy is palpable.  (In the 70’s and 80’s, she sometimes had a “harmony group” accompany her in concert, but the vocalists never matched the intricacies of her own harmonies done in the studio.) 

Then came Gonna Take A Miracle, a collection of covers from Smokey (the title track), Martha Reeves (“Dancing in the Street” and “Jimmy Mack”), Aretha (“Spanish Harlem,” definitely one of my least favorite tracks since ain’t nobody who can do Aretha) and others.  You wanna sing along to fun fun songs at the top of your lungs? This is the album. (sorry about the stupid embedded lyrics).

Laura’s later albums – Smile, Nested, Walk the Dog and Light the Light, Mother’s Spiritual – had one or two songs that matched her early brilliance.  Maybe it was the agenda-oriented lyrics, rather than the pure sex and passion that permeated her earlier work, that made these subsequent efforts less than inspiring from a musical standpoint.  Or her  greatly reduced vocal abilities.  And as her creative output lessened, and the compilation albums increased, the worst thing – again musically -  happened: a series of live albums were issued, and Laura’s vocal problems became magnified.  I still cringe when I hear her sing “Sweet Blindness” live on Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro.

My musical goddess had unraveled.

But the heartbreak wasn’t over.  In 1997, the year in which I was diagnosed with MS, Laura died. 

This essay should end right here. 

Except for one thing:  After she died, Angel in the Dark, recorded while she was suffering from the cancer that killed her, was released.  And Laura’s soaring voice was resurrected.

Triple Goddess Twilight, slow down. Feel the land, violet everywhere, I'll meet you there.
“Triple Goddess Twilight,” from Angel in The Dark



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Lawyer vs. The Writer

I've been a total bum, dissing my own blog to work on my novel - feverishly, I might add...

I expected my last revisions to Client Relations to be done by now. But no-oh-oh!! I'm on a tear.

Anyway, considering how distracted I've been (really, since November, when my latest big push began), I thought I'd re-post one of my earliest posts. It's very apropos for me right now...

The Lawyer vs. The Writer

Lawyer: The parties executed a separation agreement on June 25, 2009, approximately two years from the commencement of the action for divorce.

Writer: Paul grasped his pen as if it were a bayonet. Across the conference table, Elaine leaned her chin on her hand and suppressed a yawn at the sight of her husband's consternation. What's the big deal, she wondered? After two years, just write your goddamn initials underneath mine. Every page, just like the lawyers had instructed. She heaved a theatrical sigh as he finally scribbled his name under hers on the last page. Finally. All the lawyers had to do was not smear the ink from their notary stamps all over the page. And fill in the date: June 25, 2009. The hemorrhaging was about to end.