"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: nora ephron

New York Minute

Jim Dwyer on Mike McAlary and the final work by Nora Ephron, “Lucky Guy”:

If memory serves, sometime around March 1999 a caller to The Daily News introduced herself as Nora Ephron, and how about dinner?

She was thinking that the life and death of Mike McAlary would make a film. Ephron told me that she couldn’t remember ever meeting him, but that she had read the obituaries a few months earlier, after his death at 41 on Christmas Day 1998. Seen from a distance, the contrails of his life were the stuff of myths.

Fueled by high-octane swagger, McAlary had been a star columnist at the city tabloids for a decade, specializing in police corruption and police heroics. Near the end he fell spectacularly on his face and was written off, prematurely and in some circles, gleefully, as a sloppy, self-aggrandizing hack. Terminally ill, he bolted his own chemotherapy session one summer morning to sneak into the hospital room of Abner Louima, who had been grotesquely tortured with a plunger by police officers. A few months before he died, McAlary was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the columns that made the case a national scandal.

What Ephron needed from me, and others, were not bold-type headlines, but brush strokes. There were things I couldn’t be much help on. McAlary and I were not bar buddies — he was a night life Olympian — and for most of the decade, we worked at different papers. But we were the same age, both writing columns three times a week and we spoke almost every day to help each other feed the column furnace, swapping names, phone numbers, angles.

He began practically every conversation not with hello, but by announcing, “This is good for us.”

[Image Via: Iconoclast]

The Last Laugh

Writing in the New York Times, check out Jacob Bernstein’s takeout piece on his mother’s final act:

At 10 p.m. on a Friday night in a private room on the 14th Floor of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on 68th and York Avenue, my mother was lying in her bed hallucinating, in that dream space people go on their way to being gone.

She spoke of seeing trees, possibly a forest. And she mentioned to Nick, my stepfather, that she had been to the theater where her play was showing and that the audience was full. In reality, she had not left the hospital in a month, and the play, “Lucky Guy,” was nearly a year away from opening.

My brother, Max, and I stood there in disbelief. Though it had been weeks since her blood count showed any sign of improvement, the gravity of the situation had crept up on us. Mom’s housekeeper, Linda Diaz, who had worked for her for 25 years, was in the corner sobbing.

At some point, a team of doctors and nurses arrived to assess the situation, and Mom became slightly more lucid.

“Can you tell me your name?” one of them asked.

Nora Ephron,” she said, nodding.

“Can you tell me where you are?”

“New York Hospital.”

“Who is the president of the United States?”

At this point, my mother looked annoyed, gave a roll of the eyes and refused to answer the question, which later on was the source of some debate between Max and me about whether her sarcasm and humor remained even as her memory and focus faded or whether she was simply irritated at being treated like an infant.

[Picture by Bags]

Making it Work

This is nice. Nathan Englander on Nora Ephron:

Nora once had me and my wife over for a birthday dinner where she served an almond cake. The best I’ve ever had. I asked for the recipe (not because I’m much of a baker, but because seeing Nora bake made me think baking was the greatest thing around). The point is, Nora gave me the recipe. And she also gave me some advice. You’ve got to sift the flour. (She’d sift three times.) And if the almond cake sinks in the middle, as it sometimes does (hers hadn’t, but she surely knew that mine would—and it did) she told me to cover it with powdered sugar, and then put some fresh strawberries on top. Then it would be perfect. And that to me is a good way to sum up what being a working artist is all about. It’s about being a person who makes real things in a real world. You set out to do something, and to do it right. And if it doesn’t come out exactly as planned—you don’t just live with it, you find a way to make it even better than it would have been before. And who isn’t going to be happier with a strawberry on her plate?

[Photo Credit: t/here]

Funny Lady


Sad news in New York this morning. Nora Ephron died yesterday. She was only 71.

Over at New York magazine–where Ephron wrote for years–Noreen Malone offers a nice tribute (also included a links to several of Ephron’s pieces).

I was no fan of Ephron’s work in the movies and don’t know enough about her writing to comment with any clarity. However, this piece, first written for the New York Times, and later featured in “Nora Ephron Collected” is worth reading:

Revision and Life

Plus, she also once said: “I don’t think any day is worth living without thinking about what you’re going to eat next at all times.”

I can dig it.

[Illustration by Simon Pemberton and Larry Roibal]

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver