Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Happy Birthday, Panni!

Monday, January 23, 2006 (Appearing Tuesday, January 24, 2006, a year after I wrote The Quintessential American--blogged Sunday, 9/18/05.)

Happy Birthday, Panni!

She loved Van Gogh; she read Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, France, Malraux, and Colette in French; she read Endre and Petofi in her native Hungarian; and she read Life, Time, National Geographic, even The National Enquirer, in English (as well as Hemingway, Charles Kuralt, and Merle Miller's biography of Harry Truman, "Plain Speaking," which never left her bedside). She held Freud in the highest esteem (as well as Albert Einstein and, indeed, Karl Marx: the three most important men of the twentieth century, she called them). Truman, LBJ, and Lincoln were her favorite American Presidents: they made the most dificult decisions as President, she used to say. Her least favorite were Kennedy (for all the obvious Cuban-American reasons); Clinton (though she voted for him in 96); and Jimmy Carter (due to the discharging of many defenseless and needy mental patients from institutions). Her favorite actor was Leslie Howard; her favorite actress, Greta Garbo. In more modern times, she saw great promise in Tom Hanks: "He's going to make it big," she said after watching "Big." She also liked Matthew Broderick after seeing him in "Glory."
She liked Lucy more than Desi, was also fond of Carol Burnett. Peter Jennings was her newscaster--how could he not be, having been married to a Hungarian? While she sometimes watched Ted Koppel after the local news, I'm sure she also caught Letterman (and Leno) from time to time. But I remember--I remember--watching Johnny Carson with her.

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