December 30th, 2014 § § permalink
The conversation begins:
Lovey, I promise to never again move all of your notebooks while dusting without first asking!
I’ll believe that when I see it. Pussy, I promise to never stand over your shoulder when you’re cooking, whispering in your ear any secret ingredients to add to your recipes.
Right! I promise to always use the fine, horse-hair brush to brush your corduroy skirt in the same direction, so that the nap is smooth and velvety to the touch.
Thank God, nothing worse than uneven, nappy corduroy. And I promise to do the dishes and pots and pans on weekends when Helene is gallivanting about Paris.
Right! And rough up your writing hand!?
Promises, promises! We’ll see, I’ve been around the block with these girls for a long time.
December 18th, 2014 § § permalink
A post from Paris via Fogo Island, Toronto and San Francisco.
As the year ends with the usual holiday celebrations, it is also time to celebrate another event, the 3rd anniversary of the publishing of GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM.
Sometimes it feels as if this happened a long, long time ago, but whenever I pick up a copy of the book to send out, there are still very positive feelings of accomplishment, newness and satisfaction.
A few weeks ago, those feelings hit an all time high when a package arrived from Toronto. In it was an exquisite bottle of Turkey Hill maple syrup – “Canada No. 1 Light,” some Mary MacLeod’s Shortbread – “Handmade All Butter,” two, attractive greeting cards (one with the Cat in the Hat, the other with the image of a folk art style elephant), several photographs, and a block letter written note, which looked very much like the one from Fritz and Tom in my book.
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December 17th, 2014 § § permalink
More than thirty years ago I began collaging postcards for the holidays and mailing them to friends. At one point they began having only GertrudeandAlice themes. I wonder how that happened?!
Here is this year’s card which is only available in this online version. Sorry to all of you who used to receive them the old-fashioned way via post.
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November 1st, 2014 § § permalink
In November 1954, the first edition of The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book hit bookstores in the U.S. and U.K. Since then it has never been out of print. Here is my tribute to this culinary classic in the online magazine scene4.
copyright 2014 S. Maude Thornton
September 9th, 2014 § § permalink
Eighty years ago this month, 27 rue de Fleurus was busy, busy, busy! New suits, new gowns, new gloves, new handbags, new hats all had to be made or purchased under the watchful eye of Alice, the stylist!
In a few short weeks, GertrudeandAlice would be returning to the U.S. of A. for the first time in 30 years for Gertrude and 27 years for Alice. They would crisscross America, coast to coast to coast for 191 days visiting 37 cities in 23 states. Gertrude would present 74 lectures and be interviewed for radio programs and newspapers and magazines. GertrudeandAlice would eat and drink and schmooze, always under the curious and watchful eyes of the media.
“Lovey, I’ll take the berth under the porthole.”
In the next 6 months, from time to time I will be posting overviews of their activities.
I’ll take a look at who they met, what they did, what they ate, what they and their contemporaries thought about this visit and what was going on around them both in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Once we reach the week of May 4th, we may all be as exhausted and over-stimulated as they undoubtedly were. Hopefully, however, the journey will have been worth it.
In the early 1960s, there was, for a short time, a television program in the U.S. imported from the U.K. called “That Was The Week That Was.”
The show was a satirical look at the week’s news presented in short skits and songs. There will be no skits and songs as we relive the 1934-35 GertrudeandAlice U.S. lecture tour, but it should be an enjoyable and informative journey into “Those Were The Weeks That Were,” eighty years ago.
July 16th, 2014 § § permalink
This may be the shortest post that I will write, but enjoy.
In 1931, GertrudeandAlice self-published Gertrude’s How to Write. 1000 copies were printed. Chapter two begins with:
“A Sentence is not emotional a paragraph is.”
Fast forward, July 2014:
May 14th, 2014 § § permalink
The role of a critic in any field, whether in the arts, food, fashion and so on, is a balancing act. If a critic is too “nice,” (s)he is often suspected of being in cahoots with what is being evaluated. If a critic is too harsh, (s)he is often branded as someone who has lots of bad days and is taking it out on someone else. And if a critic is wishy-washy, readers often question the critic’s credentials and move on to the critiques of other writers.
A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an e mail mentioning a new novel which features Gertrude Stein as a central character. It was written by a respected Moroccan poet, Hassan Najmi , and has recently been translated into English. It is simply called GERTRUDE, but that is where the simplicity ends. My response to the book after reading it is far from simple and is, in many respects, very complicated and perplexing. The book is published by Interlink Publishing whose tagline is “Changing the Way People Think About the World.”
How about replacing a few words making it “Changing the Way People Think About Literary Icons by Dragging Them Through the Mud?”
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May 11th, 2014 § § permalink
A 3-day conference at the University of Copenhagen celebrating the 100th anniversary of Gertrude Stein’s book TENDER BUTTONS ended yesterday.
I brought a few things from my collection, including the first edition seen above, to exhibit in the library and had a short presentation about them and how my GertrudeandAlice obsession began.
There were presentations about performing Stein, how new technologies can be used to consolidate and make available information about her, perspectives on GertrudeandAlice’s relationship, their salon’s significance and many more. One of the keynote speakers was Catherine Stimpson, one of the Grande Dames of Stein research, who is really not at all Grande-Damey, but instead very approachable, only too eager to share, most candidly, her expertise and genuinely interested in learning what is going on in the realm of Stein research. She is also an incredibly engaging speaker.
Several performances, both musical and theatrical, were interspersed throughout the conference. One of the highlights was a performance of Gertrude’s “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene,” which many consider the first literary work to use the word “gay” in its contemporary meaning. Check out the text online – there are various links.
Don’t know who these ladies are, but they could be Miss Furr and Miss Skeene!
One evening featured an Alice-cookbook-inspired dinner coordinated by my friend Karen Hagen, who is the publisher of the Norwegian edition of the cookbook. The various courses were punctuated by readings from the cookbook and I had the honor and pleasure to read the “Haschish Fudge,” recipe. A good time was had by all!
It is so encouraging to see the broad interest in GertrudeandAlice and how it continues to develop more and more.
A few additional days in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen and then homeward.
Last night we watched the finale of the Eurovision singing competition, a mixture of the finals of American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, and Oscar night. The winner was from Austria – a full-bearded, drag queen named Conchita Wurst! What more can you ask for during a trip to Europe?
March 20th, 2014 § § permalink
What are the landmark birthdays? 1,5,13,16,18,21,25,30,40,50,60,65,70,75,80,85,90,95,100?
Now that’s a landmark !
Well, today I’ve reached the one almost in the center of the top listing (does that still make it middle-age?), so officially I am now a Senior Citizen, though I know for some benefits that age has dropped to 55 and even 50.
As many of my generation have gotten older, it has become popular to confront our ages by making them seem less old than our parents or grandparents by creating the “is-the-new” model: 30 is-the-new 20, 40 is-the-new 30, 50 is-the-new 40, and so on.
In that case, though birthdays at any life-stage have never concerned me, as far as I can remember, I’ll make 65 the-new-45. Why not? Where was I at 45 and what was I doing? Let me think.
To put it into perspective. Gertrude was 60 at the beginning of the U.S. lecture tour. Alice was 77 when her cookbook was published. I wasn’t born at the beginning of the U.S. lecture tour and was 5 when the cookbook was published.
Alice, you shouldn’t have !
One of Gertrude’s quotes which has joined the ranks of greeting card quips is her take on age. It’s a very simple set of words, but quite profound:
“We are always the same age inside.”
I’ve always liked that and especially today as I reflect on landmark birthdays of the past (at least ones I can remember), I’ll use it as today’s mantra, so that my body and mind clearly get the message, as a very fulfilled life goes on.
Thanks again Gertie.
February 3rd, 2014 § § permalink
One-hundred forty years old, that’s how old Gertrude Stein will be today, February 3rd or would have been, were many of the magical, medical, longevity miracles that are beginning to surface been around fifty years ago. But then the question is, does anyone really want or need to live that long?
I’d be 140 in 2089 , only 20 years from the 22nd Century and not sure if I’d like to be there, there!
A miniature of the house Gertrude was born in at 850 Beech Ave., Allegheny, PA.
But let’s go back to 1874, the year of Gertrude’s birth to see what was happening.
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