WHY I (USUALLY) DON’T SAY “CAWFEE” 

Decades ago, I theorized that something we give little thought to might impact racist attitudes—for bad or good. According to Katherine D. Kinzler, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, I’ve been on to something. In her book How You Say It: Why We Judge Others by the Way They Talk—and the Costs of This…

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THE TWO OF EVERYONE 

Last Tuesday was the 112th anniversary of my mother’s birth. Belying surface impressions, there was more than one of her. Blanche Finkle Perlstein was a middle-class Jewish housewife with a successful husband (Morris); a well-furnished apartment in Queens; a mink coat and lots of jewelry. She loved opera and Broadway theater. But . . .…

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DO YOU HAVE TO BE JEWISH? 

From 1961 through the ’70s, Levy’s Real Jewish Rye Bread ran a celebrated advertising campaign in New York. It’s worth a thought when we talk about casting actors in films and on TV.  The Levy’s campaign (agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach) featured obviously non-Jewish models across the ethnic spectrum. Smiling, each held up a piece of…

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FAREWELL, GRACE AND FRANKIE 

One of our family left us. No one died. The comedy TV series Grace and Frankie (Netflix) aged out. I feel the loss.  Seven seasons involved Carolyn and me with two elder women thrown together reminiscent of The Odd Couple. The straightlaced WASP Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) and ex-hippie Frankie Bergstein (Lili Tomlin) were forced to live together…

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GOV. DeSANTIS, BURN MY BOOK! 

When it comes to banned books, I once was ahead of the curve. I fell back. Now, I appeal for a boost from Florida governor Ron DeSantis. In 1969-70, I taught English at a private school in San Antonio. I assigned a high school class Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winner To Kill a Mockingbird. The school…

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