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Tag: alex witchel

New York Minute

Alex Witchel profiled Bobby Cannavale in the magazine a few days ago:

Cannavale turned serious. “I don’t come from an intellectual family,” he said. “I fly them in for the opening night of whatever show I’m in, and it’s great, they love me, they’re proud of me.” He paused. “But we don’t ever talk about what the play is about. So I was always in search of people I could talk to. I guess you could pull apart psychologically why it’s always a guy this happens with. My father-in-law” — the director Sidney Lumet — “was like a dad to me, and we talked about this art form ad nauseam.”

That was another way his life changed because of “The Normal Heart.” Jenny Lumet saw the closing performance. “We met in July, got married in December and had Jake in May,” he said. “He was born two days before my 25th birthday.” The marriage lasted nearly a decade, though his relationship with her father lasted until his death, in 2011. Among the films Lumet directed were “Serpico” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” both starring Pacino. For years, before a performance, Cannavale would psych himself up by saying, “Pacino’s coming tonight.”

It does boggle the mind to think of this Jersey boy suddenly hanging out with Sidney Lumet. Not to mention Jenny’s maternal grandmother, Lena Horne. “Sidney was the most down-to-earth guy you could meet,” Cannavale said. “He loved me because I didn’t have anything and he came from nothing. By the way, I didn’t know who she was,” he said of Horne. “But I think she liked that I was a little dirty.” He smiled. “She, like Sidney, would love to say around her friends, ‘Bobby, tell that story,’ and I’d tell some story they would all be charmed by.” His voice held no edge. “Nothing is more charming than poor folks.” He leaned back into the couch. “They were all great, but it was Sidney, that guy,” he said quietly. “To the end, he was like a dad to me.”


Here’s an excerpt from Alex Witchel’s book about her mother’s struggle with dementia:

The meatloaf fooled me.

I should have known it would. That’s what a meatloaf is meant to do: make you believe the world is so forgiving a place that even an array of bits and pieces, all smashed up, can still find meaning as an eloquent whole. The duplicity is integral to the dish, if you make it well. And when I made my mother’s meatloaf, it was perfect.

In 2005, as my mother began the torturous process of disappearing in plain sight, I retreated to my kitchen, trying to reclaim her at the stove. Picking up a pot was not the instant panacea for illness and isolation and despair that I wanted it to be. But it helped. When I turned to my mother’s recipes, I felt grounded in her rules, and they worked every time. I could overcook or undercook the meatloaf, and it still tasted the same. I could eat it hot and eat it cold, and I ended up doing both, because my stepsons, Nat and Simon, and my husband, Frank, like meatloaf fine, but they don’t love it. The writer Peg Bracken summed it up perfectly in “The I Hate to Cook Book”: men prefer steaks and chops to casseroles and meatloaf, she wrote, because they “like a tune they can whistle.” But it was those inexact elements, murky and mystical, that drew me to my mother’s meatloaf again and again. It was my remnant of home and I conjured it, reaching back, always back. Each time I made it, it was absolutely perfect. And each time I made it, I felt more and more afraid.

[Picture Credit: Miya Ando via Zeroing]

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