the history of debcentral



clare & stephen
amy & scott
andrea & jonathan marc & liza

grandma's window
state of mind


hair issues:
my pink hair mistake
my purple hair mistake

chinatown/little italy
thanksgiving 2003

moving day
our new digs
garden of stones

eleanor turns 26
deb turns 27
deb's birthday collage
susan's holiday party
new year's 2004
rich turns 30

jenny miller in nyc
lakeland, fla
the unveiling

zina and me
our ira visit
gators v. vols
ny state drivers license
the nobel manatee

Tough Cookies

Last night, I made the ugliest cookies.
I am not proud of this. I think I am baking-impaired. I spoke with former co-worker Aiesha, who is big with impeding child and cooped up in her Brooklyn apartment, too big to do much besides going to the doctors’ appointments and chatting on the phone.

So, of course, I am a bad friend, and have neither purchased nor made anything for the impending baby or the baby’s mama. I was feeling lousy about it, but then got an idea that I could bake her a batch of cookies and wouldn’t that be nice and warm and sweet.

I could double recipe and give the rest to my fellow jurors. What a swell gal that Deb Schwartz is!

Only, I’ve baked cookies three other times in my life. On the last occasion, Brian and I were still living in Queens, and we presented our Super with the half the batch of cookies. He couldn’t have looked more repulsed if we were presenting him with a plate full of human head. After the initial shock of the grotesque baked goods, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I guess I can give them to my children.”

As soon as the door shut, Brian turned to me and said, “You know those cookies are going straight in the garbage. They look like they’re poison.”

And they may have tasted like they’d been poisoned as well, as I generally view recipes as simply jumping off points for negotiations. In this particular case, I was positive that an extra couple spoonfuls of salt would make the cookies more delectable. Also, I substituted oatmeal for walnuts. In fact, they ended up tasting like lumpy salt cookies. Our poor Super.

This time, I did my dern hardest to follow the recipe on the back of the chocolate chips bag. And still, they are deformed and elephantine in their lumpy oozy grotesqueness. But they don’t taste like salt. I know this, because I’ve already eaten about half of them. I am like the hamster mother who eats her babies. I’m sorry, Aiesha. I’m sorry, jurors.

By the way, I am serving my jury duty at the New York County Criminal Courthouse. Also there is Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco International Ltd. I left the courthouse during lunch yesterday to pick up a knish from a street vendor, and I had to fight my way through people wielding TV cameras and a sundry other photojournalists. On my way back in, I decided to make a number of calls on my cell phone right in front of the entrance, on the off-chance that someone from the Tyco trial might exit, and I could get my picture in the news.

Eventually, I felt my scheme to launch my star was too transparent, and so I preceded back inside the building. One of the security guards looked hard at me and said, “Nice bag.” I assumed he was mocking the small brown bag that held my knish, all part of my tawdry machinations towards fame. So I grimaced. He was in fact referring to my tote bag, which I found on the internet and which is composed solely of sewn-together juice boxes.

I hope I don’t see that same guard tomorrow when I enter the courthouse with my three pounds of deformed cookies. I just couldn’t face him.

The Crazy House on Wards Island has an eatery called "Mon Petite Café" as well as something my uncle calls "the Discothèque". I asked him if there is music at the Discotheque, and my uncle said he guessed there was, but he never paid much attention to that.

I said, “Do people dance at the discotheque?”

“I told you I don’t know,” my uncle said. “I just go there because they sell fifty-cent hotdogs and seventy-five-cent cokes.”

“Did people ever dance at the Discotheque?”

My uncle became sullen. “They used to,” he said, “but nobody’s used it like that for years. They’re going to redo it soon. Right now, it’s just I place I go to get fifty-cent hotdogs and seventy-five-cent cokes.”

This all came up because I used to slip my uncle a couple of bucks on our visits. Recently, my grandmother has condemned these actions, and has threatened to eject us from the apartment if we are caught shuttling Uncle Ira any more money.

Without those extra few bucks, Uncle Ira is no longer able to get a coffee and doughnut at Mon Petite Café or a fifty-cent hotdog and seventy-five-cent coke from the Discothèque. I told my uncle I would do what I can to find a way to get him money, but until that time, I valued shelter in general more than a fifty-cent hotdog at the Discotheque.

The other exciting news is that while we were visiting, one of the patients went berserk and had to be restrained. A tiny, largely toothless fellow began flailing his limbs, shrieking, and trying to bite the nurses. It took three nurses to hold his hands and feet and push him into a chair. But the entire time, the nurses were giggling, saying, “For a little old man, this bastard sure has a lot of energy.” Once they had sedated him, they called for assistance, telling the person on the phone, “Come down here and get your patient. He’s a feisty one. He’s going to beat your ass once you get back on the ward.”

It was like a thin ray of sunshine in an otherwise glum environment.

I have been off Jury Duty this whole week.
I'm back on Monday. And I miss it. Jury Duty and I have become co-dependant. No. That is not true. But I am not good and straddling two worlds -- my work world and the world of the criminal justice system. I've been feeling awfully frazzled lately.

In my work world, raises have finally come due. I received a form letter from our human resources department telling me that my contribution to the Museum is valued. It goes on to say that my skills and experience are one of the true strengths of the Museum. My name is filled in by hand in a blank at the top of the letter. We all got identical letters with our hand-written name at the top. I thought this was odd.

I suppose my small pay increase should make me happy. But I'm feeling a bit down anyway. Brian has a banquet this evening for his law journal, but I refuse to go because guests of journal members must pay $60 a plate. I am boycotting, on the grounds that $60 is an absurd price to pay for a lousy plate of pasta primavera. I don't know the last time we spent $60 on dinner for the two of us. I'm not going to pay $60 for one order of pasta primavera. I will not let the terrorists win.

Sometimes I think about how rich people must live. Or even quasi-rich people. $60 for pasta primavera? Why, that sounds like a fine price! I look at the price tags in boutique stores and wonder what it must feel like to put down $700 for a pair of pants. Doesn't life lose it's flavor when you can afford everything? How do you know when something really is special if everything is accessible? It must be surreal to walk around in a pair of shoes that cost more to buy than I get in my bi-weekly paycheck (even with my new raise). Would it not feel absurd to walk around with my bi-weekly paycheck on my feet?

For the most part, I am not jealous of people who can afford to wear my bi-weekly paycheck on their feet. I just assume they have no moral structure and so are rotting on the inside.

Still, today, I'm feeling lousy.

My phone salutation at work is: "This is Deborah Schwartz calling from the Museum of Jewish Heritage." This makes sense, as my given name is Deborah Schwartz and I am making my calls from the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Still, people will say things to me like, "Oh, hello, Debbie." But sometimes they say, "Hello, Judy." And today, someone said, "Did you say your name was Barbara?"

No. No, I didn't say my name was Barbara. I said my name was Deborah. But, funny, I imagine that at the Name Party, Deborah, Judy, and Barbara all hang out together. They congregate in the same corner (a little ways away from the band), and they all drink a little too much of the punch.

Most of the Deborahs (and Debbies) I've met are about 20 years my senior. Like the Deborah who wrote for Baywatch. I bet she's a few years older than me. She was writing for Baywatch in 1989. In 1989, I was still in middle school, teasing up my bangs in a do I liked to call the waterfall. I wore paisley vests with tight-rolled pants and sock-less Keds. In 1989, I became a Bat Mitzvah, which meant I wore a multi-tiered hot pink sequined dress and had a big fun party with a band. There was a religious component as well, but it was lost on me.

By the way, at my hair's peak height, I was going through a can of Aquanet a week. These are very painfully memories for me. Writing them down for the world to see is part of my therapy.

I don't like meeting other Deborahs. I feel edgy, confrontational. And I especially hate when they're around the same age as me. Then we really have to throw down. There's only room at the Name Party for one twenty-something Deborah.

And Debras need not apply. They are a cheap and tawdry version of the original. Deborah mean's "the bee". I have no idea what that means. Except that maybe Deborahs have the ability to sting those imposter Debras. For godsake, somewhere, people are starving to death. Somewhere, people are suffering. People are throwing down. People are drinking too much punch at the Name Party. Life is serious. We don't have time for big hair or bad names.

On Friday night, Brian and I had dinner with friends from the gallery.
I was going to hold off mentioning it, but I am too excited. Remember that short film in which I played the hussy? Well, that film will be showing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Ruth, who is the film’s writer and director, says that once the festival schedule is posted, I might be listed on

Don’t think I haven't already looked for myself there. I am always seeking out my doppelgangers. Another Deborah Schwartz has already made it onto She appears to have been a writer for Baywatch. She apparently wrote a book about it too. Don’t think I haven’t checked.

The atmosphere at the gathering on Friday was so convivial, Brian became a little too convivialated. When we got home, he laid down on the carpet next to me while I checked over my new friend test. To see if it worked properly, I read Brian questions, and had him guess the answers. He passed out after question three.

The next morning, he checked the site and declare, "Who stole my name? Someone took your friend test and called themselves Mr. Deb. They didn't do very well anyway." I told him that it was in fact he who, to an extent, had taken the test. I said that I had been so annoyed he had passed out after question three, I caused him to get answers 4-10 wrong.

He has since retaken the test. Still, he missed the question about how many cans of hairspray I used to use in middle school – even though I’ve told that story a hundred times in the past seven years.

On Saturday, Susan, her friend Lauren, and I took a train to Bridgeport, Connecticut to see the Barnum Museum. We had a good time, and the museum was cute and all, but we got the feeling it was in a transition phase. Mostly because there were things empty cases here and there. Also because on the same floor as the miniature circus there was a room off to the side with nothing in it but a set of antlers hanging on the wall and a real mummy in a glass case on the floor. It creeped us out.

Afterwards, we ate lunch in a bank that had been converted to a restaurant, but which still maintained all the ambiance of a bank. Then we went home.

Giving no real explanation, my judge has given the jurors this week off. Still, relatively few people have applied to DebCentral’s Guest Blog program. The phone lines are still open.

Thanks, Taryn.
Due to Taryn's urging, I have gone ahead and made myself a friend test. Of course, if one were to fail, one would be immediately annihilated. So don't fail.

I'm glad we're all in agreement about what's important in life.

by Niall from Toronto

While she’s away…
Guest blog for Debcentral…
While Debbie is on jury duty?
Does she not realize we are
No longer our once fully formed selves,
But merely shadows, absensed of light?
Uncle Ira? Evil Grandmother?
The light, look for the light…

I drank green beer tonight.
And before the beer had become green, it was Budweiser. Is this sad? I’m not even sure.

Heck’s Kitchen has linked to some really gorgeous pictures of outer space. I’m proud of outer space for being so pretty. I mean, I feel like some people might think it’s trite for outer space to be a beautiful thing. Haven’t we all read a million different stories where two astronauts are sitting in a moon crawler and looking up at the sky, saying to each other in breathy romantic tones, "Look, Alfred! Look up there. That’s space. So wide. So expansive. It’s beautiful, by gum!"

And if I were a writer, because would be only a mediocre writer, I would try to be different. I’d have those same two astronauts in their moon crawler looking up at the sky, saying, "Alfred, I remember a leaf I once held in my hands as a child. I folded it, and it broke in half. And the pieces were green inside, moist. And filled with life. I folded it and broke it again and again. It was so beautiful."

"Well, Bertha Ann, space is nothing like those leaves from your childhood." Alfred shifted his weight, moving his shoulder, snaking his arm around Bertha Ann’s waist. "Look at it," he said, "It’s ugly and cold and empty—filled with a million galaxies, like so many black eyes."

"Oh, Alfred," said Bertha Ann. Her annoyance was rising like so many bubbles from the Martian carbonated soda. "You are a party-pooper and an idiot. How you ever got through Astronaut School is a wonder to us all." Bertha Ann pulled away from Alfred, nearly allergic to his touch. She forced open the door to the moon crawler and let herself out, making her way back to the mother ship.

But she had not re-adjusted the controls on her Zero-Gravity suit. Before she was even half way to the mother ship, she began to float away, into oblivion, into the ugly emptiness of space. She could have helped herself. She could have radioed the mother ship. They could have unleashed to octopus-harness and drawn her back into the ship. But she didn’t. She floated on, thinking of leaves halved, their verdant centers damp and reveled.

That’s what I might have written about outer space. But it would have all been a cheap lie. Now I know, if I were in that space crawler, I’d have to give it up for outer space. It’s gorgeous. Uncompromised. Just look at it!

It’s supposed to snow today.
I think I live my life in fear of extreme weather conditions. I keep wondering if that’s such a bad thing. If I were to move someone entirely temperate, maybe my life would slump into a malaise. Maybe the sudden snowfall in mid-March gives me that shot of adrenaline I so need.

Yesterday, my class at the 92nd Street Y workshopped my new story. Well, no one went out of his or her way to tell me what a wonderful writer I was. Maybe it’s better that way. It’ll keep me humble.

If you would like to request a copy of my most-recent story, or would like to participate in Deb Schwartz’s Guest Blog program, please contact me at: contact @

Heck’s Kitchen has linked to some wedding pictures of people we met when she and Sarah were in New York City.

A last thought before jury duty this morning: I want to mention one cute thing my grandmother did about a month ago, the same grandmother who often causes me so much pain. I received an email from her with a subject line of "Send previous email", but nothing in the email’s body. This concerned me, and I told her that Sunday that I thought she might be sending me a virus. "No!" she said. "I was typing you a message and, all of a sudden, it disappeared. I tried to find it, but I couldn’t. Finally I tried sending a message to the computer: Send previous message. It didn’t work?"

3-D movies are fun.
The Film Forum had a double feature on Thursday of Man in the Dark and Drums of Tahiti, both 3-D movies from 1953, both whose greatest attribute is the funny glasses one gets to wear while viewing the movies.

The taglines for Man in the Dark were "Death rides the roller coaster!!" and "Terror stalks the carnival in 3 DIMENSIONS!" 'Nough said. Drums of Tahiti tells the story of an American restaurateur living in 19th-century Tahiti who gets involved in intrigue against the French colonial government. This film envisions a turn-of-the-century Tahiti populated solely by white people in orange pancake makeup and peddle-pushers. The climax of the movie involves a planned armed rebellion, monsoon, and a volcanic eruption. A must-see for people who enjoy stock footage.

Brian and I discovered the most wondrous Little Caesasr’s Pizza on West 14th Street. It’s mod. It’s modular. They have their menus displayed on plasma screen TVs. And if you need to use the computer while you eat your pizza, this is the place. They have several computer terminals available as well.

I’ve finally posted some more pictures. Here are some pictures from Brian’s grandfather’s unveiling and some from Rich’s 30th birthday party. It’s almost Passover, and I still haven’t posted the pictures from my extended family’s Chanukah party. I move very slowly.

Jury duty has been moving along swimmingly. I recommend it to everyone.

Duncan Primaeux of Ponca City, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia writes:

i hope this is deb of debcentral. hi, you may remember me, duncan, from maryland? we once spoke of spalding gray, in "gray's anatomy" or another of his films. we seemed to agree that s.g.'s monologues were kicky good. he's dead. hope you're happy!!
love duncan lamont primeaux.
"Single Bars, Single Women"

Yesterday, I watched the movie "Georgia," which I had requested through the library system for some reason. Apparently, that part of me that loves sensitive movies about rivalries between musical sisters but didn’t get enough from "Hilary and Jackie" placed a hold on it. So, it arrived, and it was OK. That Jennifer Jason Leigh sure is edgy! My favorite of her film roles was the one where she played that out-of-control addict, tramp, or prostitute!

But, yeah, the movie did seem like it was designed specifically for the purpose of garnering JJL an Oscar, much like Charlize Theron in the recent "Monster." Both movies were produced by their stars and seem to serve no purpose beyond showcasing the "dramatic stretches" and "intensity" and "courage" and, in the case of Georgia, "unbelievably bad singing" of the leads. And Jen J-L was really good in this, but I’m just saying that some parts, like the 8 and a half minute scene of her caterwauling her way through Van Morrison’s "Take Me Back" were probably not included in the film because the producers thought it would make the movie the "My Big Fat Greek Heroin Addict Sister of a Moderately Successful Folk Singer" of 2004.

(On the Nia Vardalos tip, she’ll be back to light up our screens--and our hearts?--next month in a movie where she plays a lounge singer who hides from the mob… by posing as a drag queen! It’s "Sister Act" meets "Victor / Victoria" meets "The End of a Career That Once, Briefly, Seemed Promising!"

I read today in a trashy rag that Catherine Zeta-Jones hired the director of "Monster" to write and direct a movie for her, in which CZJ will play… a construction worker. I have no further comment on this time.

But, yeah, so the shameless Oscar-begging of "Georgia" didn’t work out too well for our Jennifer. I see from my IMDB research that her co-star, someone named Mare Winningham, was nominated for an Oscar, but they passed over Jen in the Best Actress category in favor of… Sharon Stone. I don’t think there’s a more direct fuck-you you can give someone than to say, “Thanks for the movie, but we actually prefer the acting skills of noted thespian Sharon Stone. Did you see that one where she totally flashed the camera? Yow-za!”

Finally, this Mare Winningham character has been in some awesome movies, according to IMDB.

You can catch Mare as

  • Locksley Claitor in “A Few Days at Weasel Creek”
  • Aggie Modgelewsky (Modge’s Daughter) in “Steeletown”
  • Modeena Dandridge, the name of any and all of my future daughters, in “One Trick Pony”
  • Helen Keller in the no-doubt fabulous sequel “Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues”
  • Janice in the also awesomely titled “The Special Olympics: A Special Kind of Love”
  • Prudence Crandall in “She Stood Alone” (Do you think that character was, by chance, repressed and moralistic?)
  • Bootsie (!) in “Single Bars, Single Women”

    I leave you to ponder the delights they may hold or run to your local Blockbuster.

    Jury duty has begun.
    And though I am not sequestered, I have been spending many hours a day far away from a computer. My goal is to have a computer chip installed in my molar. But, until then, my blogging may be a little lackluster.

    Now is your chance to shine. Mr. Geller had the wonderful idea of inviting guest-bloggers. So hear it is. Come, submit a guest blog entry, and if I do not find its contents morally or aesthetically offensive, I will post it. And you will gain fame, respect, and the envy of all your peers.

    March is Women’s History Month. I am going to suggest that the blog entry be somehow connected to this, be it because it mentions women, history, or a month. Or not. The form is up to you. The length should be not too long. All submissions should be emailed to contact[at] Allow me a couple of days to review the submission and to decide whether I find it morally or aesthetically offensive.

    I look forward to working with you.

    Spalding Gray, 62, Actor and Monologuist, Is Confirmed Dead.
    This is sad news.

    This weekend I returned the new cell phone and switched back to the old, not-lost-anymore one. Then I went next door to the Verizon store and signed a contract with them and got a new cheap phone and a better plan. I feel younger already.

    I went with co-worker Val and her boyfriend to see the John Waters’ exhibition Change of Life at the New Museum. It was wonderful. I think I’m going to head back there a little later in the week (I got in free with my museum ID card). I only wished my sister or our friend Kevin could have been there with me. Ali and Kevin used to encourage us all to dress up in wigs and bizarre clothing. Then we would drive out to a video store 40 minutes from our home to rent the more obscure John Waters’ videos. It was a Happening. Ali and Kevin: I would have liked to take pictures for you, but they made me check my camera. I hope the show makes its way to SoFlo.

    Saturday Richard Ramirez turned 30, and we were there to see it happen. His lovely wife Karen threw him a surprise party. They did not make me check my camera at the bar. But maybe they should have. I took lots of pictures. But they’re all still maxing and relaxing inside my camera. I’ll try to get them up soon.

    This is what I do in my spare time.
    I do so love the manatees.

    Last night, Heather Scott got us all free passes to see 21 Grams. I was under the mistaken impression that the movie was about drugs. It wasn't about drugs at all. I spent the entire movie watching for the drug tie-in. In the last five minutes, Sean Penn gives a monologue about the meaning of life. The movie was about Life! What a let down.

    I kept thinking two things throughout the entire movie: 1) When are they going to talk about drugs? and 2) Don't these people work?!? Why don't any of these people have jobs? If they would just get a job, they wouldn't have to become embroiled in the downward spiral of drug-addiction, which I understand will be revealed some time later on in the movie.

    I must now get my desk in order for my impending jury duty.

    Fun Facts for the first week in March.
    You might run into if you do a google search for any of these things:

    august 14, 2003 blackout pictures
    Miami Vice Fancy Dress
    HoneyMoon Island
    Jason Biggs Diet Pepsi
    birthday collage
    history mousaka
    cartoon image of yogi in yoga
    cords to stairway to heaven
    smart lines phrases answer back
    pictures seagulls and Alka-Seltzer
    pitchers of giant squid
    In addition, someone has asked Jeeves, "is deb the one". Well, I guess the answer is: Yes!

    I have been working frantically to get things in order before my impending jury service. I had a thought last night. What if I were to come into jury duty wearing a shirt that said "Jury Duty"? Would that be post-modern?

    A couple nights ago, we went with Susan to see Johnny Fox swallow his sword and talk about shrunken heads at the Gershwin Hotel. On the way to the show, I passed a pair of orange and blue KangaROOS sneakers. Well, now I own a pair of orange and blue KangaROOS sneakers. Just what I needed.

    Guess who had jury duty yesterday?
    Guess who was selected as a juror for a criminal case that will be lasting between 6-8 weeks. And guess who is horrendously annoyed.

    I suppose I could have been sequestered. That would have made my life a bit uncomfortable. I just knew something like this was going to happen. I will not think about it any longer, or my head will explode.

    Also, while we're playing our fun game, guess who got a call from the Garden Cafe on Saturday afternoon saying they found a blue cell phone.

    Uncle Ira was tons of fun as usual. I asked him to tell us the story of his cats. Over a period of about 30 years, my uncle acquired a number of cats, naming them all Jessica, then managed to lose them upon being re-committed. Uncle Ira told me that his first Jessica cat he used to keep perched on his shoulder, as if it were a parrot. He continued to do this, until the cat got too big for his shoulder, at which time he put a leash around the cat's neck and took it on walks through the park. The cat didn't like being on a leash, and it eventually ran away.

    The second cat he got while he was living on the bowery. It too was named Jessica. It managed to disappear shortly after he was taken back to the loony bin.

    The third cat (you guessed it: Jessica) he had while living at East 79th Street. I told my uncle that I remembered him having that cat. He said, "Yeah, but it was dead." I asked him what he meant by that, and he got very indignant and said, "Look. I'd rather not talk about that right now."

    He was, over all, in a very good mood, and he sang to us some nebulous doo-wop song. He showed me off to the other crazies in the visiting room, saying what a wonderful niece I was. Then he kissed me on the cheek, getting mush-mush that had been dripping down his chin on crusted onto my face. I smiled my nausea away. I looked appropriate for the M-35 bus ride past the crazy house, past the shelter for homeless men and the home for delinquent boys, back to 125 Street and Lexington and the subway.

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