Liz Smith: HBO Celebrates Feminist Icon Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem: American revolutionary

And more from our Gossip Girl: rethinking old age … remembering “Planet of the Apes” … Michelle Obama — last to know?

“THIS BUSINESS is scrounging around for what to do. The medium is busy knocking its brand out to display the fat lady at 375 pounds, who in two months is gonna be 240. Who gives a shit?” asks the one and only Jerry Lewis.

He was speaking of TV’s show “The Biggest Loser.” Boy, oh boy, I’m with Jerry. I don’t really care if fat people chose to remain fat. It’s their business if they want to die early and get diabetes. I guess the fact that they cost the rest of us a fortune in medical overages is beside the point. We’re getting screwed coming and going anyway.

* * *

Some of the biggest names in New York are hosting an elegant lunch at the famed historic La Grenouille restaurant on August 10th. They’ll be lifting glasses to a major American revolutionary who has never bothered to exalt or pay any mind to food or drink.

I do mean Gloria Steinem, who is still the pivotal driving force behind the modern women’s liberation movement. She has been an icon, much celebrated, often misunderstood, for over 40 years. She is still dazzlingly beautiful and, these days, I find her serene and upbeat.

This is to celebrate a landmark documentary coming from HBO, titled “Gloria: In Her Own Words.” It debuts on Monday, August 15 and you shouldn’t miss it. Kudos to HBO, fabulous as always, and especially to the producers Sheila Nevins and Peter Kunhardt. He also directed.

Television, quite literally is often sordid and debased these days, but HBO keeps raising the profile and doing great important work. You won’t want to miss Gloria!

* * *

DIDJA know that a baby girl born today is eight times more likely to live to 100 than one born 80 years ago? New figures released in Britain say also that 20-year-olds are three times more likely to reach 100 than their grandparents, twice as likely as their parents. A man born in 1931 has a 2.5 % chance of   reaching 100. Women have a 5.1 chance.

Life expectancy is changing dramatically and experts think we need to radically rethink saving for retirement and old age.

And while we’re on statistics, do you notice your feet seem bigger? In the past twenty years, women’s feet have gotten wider and larger by a size and a half. This is because women grew taller and heavier.

Women shouldn’t be concerned with vanity in their shoe size. Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Greta Garbo sported less than delicate tootsies. Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Michelle Obama, and Geena Davis all have large feet. Shoemakers are beginning to stock more sizes 10 and 11.

As my Park Avenue foot doctor, the brilliant Dr. Richard Kushner, says: “The minute my foot hurts or a shoe pinches, I throw the pair away and get a larger size. Your feet are so important!”

While we’re goofing around here, let me ask the question – are older people more content because they are capable of experiencing happiness without excitement?

Professor Cassie Mogilner of the University of Pennsylvania says: “Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, as they get older, they are more likely to associate happiness with peacefulness.” She adds, “The difference appears to come from the varying degrees of importance placed on the future, compared with the present. Among young people, around 60% of happiness is all about the future and excitement.”

Her team programmed an analysis of millions of blogs written by people in various age groups. Results were fairly consistent.

* * *

WHEN THE first “Planet of the Apes” came out in 1968, The Hollywood Reporter says nobody thought it would spawn six sequels, prequels or remakes.

Makeup for the first one was the most ever spent in Hollywood history, to that time. And when a lone Oscar was awarded to the movie, it was to makeup man John Chambers, who received a “special honorary” Academy Award.

This was presented by actor Walter Matthau, who was holding a tuxedo-clad chimpanzee in his arms as he handed over the Oscar.

Say what you will about this movie based on a French sci-fi novel, whenever I see the ending where Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison ride on a horse down the beach and realize that they are seeing the head of the Statue of Liberty and are still on Earth, not a different planet, it makes me sob out loud.

* * *

BEFORE the recent debt limit crisis, the First Lady Michelle Obama was saying, when asked if she’d ever go into politics, “The answer is N-O. Period. Dot.”

And since that time, she feels the same, but with more emphasis. Mrs. Obama says also she is always the last know what is happening.

Arriving at a dinner with friends, she was told that Osama bin Laden had been killed, “I was like ‘Wow.’ Then I wanted to know the details. I was like every media person.”

16 comments so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Actually Charlton Heston realizes he is looking at the Statue of Liberty.  Linda Harrison has no idea what it is.  Actually she has no idea about much of anything.  I always wondered if people realized the implication of the final scene.  Or if people do today when they watch it. As we move closer to annihilating ourselves along with the earth as we continue to arm ourselves with more and more nuclear weapons instead of disarming ourselves and everyone else. Not to mention the disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima.  The implications of Fukushima as chilling as the final scene of Planet of the Apes. Although few probably even think about it. Yesterday’s news as they say. Despite it possibly becoming tomorrow’s again.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Snooks, it is chilling and I think that the biggest single “ingredient” moving us in that direction is overpopulation. Fewer resources, more competition – it ain’t gonna be pretty, and weapons will be brought to bear by one faction or population against another. Already happening in a lot of places. The latest in Somalia is just one more turn of the wheel in that region – drought exacerbated by too much pressure on the environment, coupled with warring insurgents who intentionally prevent movement of aid in, or people out. Look for much more of the same in coming decades.

      Calls to mind another Heston Movie: Soylent Green. And toss in a random disease or two, and we’ll have The Omega Man.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Africa. The Forgotten Continent.  Most of the future trouble spots most likely will be in Africa. Fueled by religious fundamentalism in reaction to centuries of colonialism and oppression. As it already is. You have to have uranium to build a bomb. And Nigerian “yellowcake” will probably replace South African diamonds on the “blood money market.”
        Americans love their current “Might Makes Right” superiority and so the response to a nuclear attack on one of our cities that occurs as a result of a bomb hidden away in a lead container in a ship from the Middle East or even a refrigerator from Mexicorst will be the same response we saw after 9/11 and we will quickly start a worldwide holocaust. And probably be the first to be annihilated after Russia and China decide to annihilate us in order to attempt to save themselves and the rest of the world. We are not as mighty as we believe we are.  Thems that has the most nuclear weapons will win.  And be left with whatever is left. But it won’t be us.

  2. avatar Lila says:

    Oh, Liz!! The FEET! The bane of my existence. Or actually, the shoes. If women’s feet actually have gotten bigger on average, that explains why it is that back in my high school days, I could go into any department store and easily find several choices in size 5 that would actually FIT. Now – not so much.

    Two problems: first, most women’s dress styles start at a size 6 these days, and second, the size 5 – when you can even find them at all – are larger than they used to be. I still have a favorite pair of my late-1970s size 5 heels, and yes, they are noticeably smaller than today’s size 5.

    With some styles I can make a 5 work, but to get a dress heel that fits, I should be wearing about a 4 wide (my feet must have shrunk!). Such exist, but tend to look like orthopedic shoes, or are otherwise terminally boring. And then comes the ever-helpful suggestion “Have you tried the children’s department?” Oh, why yes, perky salesperson, I was really hoping you would direct me to the pink plastic shoes with the My Little Pony logo and the flashing lights. Although – for sports or “utility” shoes and boots, the kids’ sizes sometimes do offer a good deal.

    While there is the Internet, and several large suppliers who provide tiny adult sizes, the choices are comparatively limited and expensive.

    Sigh.

    • avatar Mary says:

      LiLa,  Shopping with my friend who has a size 4 foot is always fun and makes me laugh so hard that tears will roll down my face.  She has a great sense of humor and also has weird timing and desires for shoes.  Last year it was fashion boots.  Do you know how hard it is to find ladies fashion boots in size 4?  It was over in the childrens department that I got the giggles.  They were the only choices she had.  The boots with My little Pony on them, ( pretty little pink numbers) or the slick and slippery look of rubber boots with blue plaid trim.  I told her, ” some things are just not meant to be”.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Mary, YES. YES. YES. I know how hard it is to find size 4 anything. I’m glad your friend has such a good sense of humor about it. I am well into my 40s and it has gotten old, especially because – as I said before – in the 1970s it was a piece of cake to go into any shoe department in my small hometown and find a choice of several dressy women’s size 5 shoes that fit perfectly. This was great! Why did they change it? Ironic that it was easy to find adult shoes as a teen, but not as an adult.

        For the first 15 or so years of my military career, I was almost always in boots, and they do come in a women’s 5. With socks – perfect! Alas, late in my career and afterward, my duties shifted and I was expected to wear “adult” civilian clothing. As in, a suit. Well… after beating my head against a brick wall, I finally just bought some Capezio “character shoes,” those heels you see on chorus lines. They run small, and also come in kids’ sizes. Not very sharp or flashy, but with slacks at least they were not very obvious. If anyone noticed I was actually wearing dance shoes, they did not say anything.

        I am not interested in bigger boobs or liposuction or a face lift. But if I could get a size 6 foot, now — THAT would be something! The “Oh, you’re so lucky, you have tiny feet like Cinderella!” has worn very, very thin. They mean well, but have NO idea of the frustration.

      • avatar Mary says:

        Lila, my friend and I are 60.  My little pony boots being worn by a 60 year old woman is quite funny and esp. funny when the salesperson directed us to the childrens size boots.  LOL.  I still laugh when I think of it.   Poor thing…………..to make things worse for friend, she has extremely skinny legs, humungous boobs and is very short.  I always think of myself as being short at 5’5″ but I tower over her 4’7″.  But I am the shortest in my family with the next shortest being my sister at 5″11 1/2″. 

        My mom always had the opposite problem with shoes.  She wore a size 12 AA/AAA and it was so bad that whenever we found a pair her size we automatically got them, mailed them to her and expected to hear how wonderful the gaudy shoes were!  I wear size 9 M and have no problem at all.  

      • avatar Lila says:

        Mary, I ran a little experiment: went to a large online shoe supplier and found these numbers:

        Women’s shoes total: 35531
        Size 6: 23491 Size 6 heels: 4384 Size 6M heels: 4173
        Size 12: 6076 Size 12 heels: 1064 Size 12 AA heels: 121 Size 12 AAA heels: 2
        Size 4: 1780 Size 4 heels: 312 Size 4W heels: 7

        Oh, to be a 6M… if you know where I might find a genie or other wish-granting supernatural, let me know….

      • avatar Lori Castle says:

        Mary tell your friend to try zappos.com for size 4 shoes that are fashionable. Some are kids but you can find really nice boots in a size 4 on this site. I have small feet cuz I’m disabled and I love this site!

  3. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    I was just commenting on the last scene of “Planet of the Apes” on Face Book and there is no other shock one can experience as seeing the Statue of Liberty. But my interests begins and ends there. The next several decades are men with monkey masks. This seems to be the thrill of the film. Nothing came close to the original, nor did I expect it too. But for 1968, it was different (either good or bad) for the population. I got bored very quickly, as I did on the TV show, “Lost”. Endless jungle scenes. I would take Gilligan’s Island any day. But, the Ape fans, now, are usually a cult for the young. A current version makes them excited and happy, which proves Liz’s survey.  I have no interest in getting tickets to the film. To me, it has all been done before…when I was 11.
                              Shoes? I’m lost. I am not fussy and wait until my sneakers are falling apart until I buy a new pair. I think that the subject of shoes passes right by straight and some gay men. If it feels good when you try it on, then it is bought. I have known MANY men and have never seen a shoe closet. (All I can think of is Carrie, with a room of shoes between her bedroom and bathroom. (I have never known anyone to be THAT obsessed about these feet covers, privately and professionally).
                                  Inner peace brings happiness or joy to older people. Those who believe that they have really done it all before.  I  feel joy for the people anticipating the event. All I can think of is our 4th of July mega event on the Charles River in Boston. It draws in thousands of people to listen to the Boston Pops, and usually a semi-famous host is provided.  It ends with a display of fireworks that equal no other. People love this event so much, they come out to find a spot for the next day; they’ll keep their place at any cost. At one time, I was in the middle of that mess for years and my happiness came from the anticipation of the 4th of July Boston Event. The same could be said about Christmas morning for kids!  As I got older, I am joyful for the people attending.
                   Conversation, dinners and attending social events make me feel good. Happiness is a bit fleeting as it comes and goes and we prioritize what is the most meaningful for us. Usually something family related. Our joy remains within, and…with the young people, the excitement of the external makes them happy. Again, for the reason we have done it all before, so a new appreciation is developed. And gratitude keeps us in line. Many do not have a long life. Being happy, let’s say, while being fat shows us how painful the internals The need to be thin. There are many reasons, not excuses, why people are heavy and we all adjust in our own way. At 55, I need a knee operation because to jog is impossible. Jogging long enough can put you into a natural euphoric state and with this knee…any type of exercise doesn’t work. I have what people once called a trick knee. But, in my 50’s…medical issues come up. At 20, I had never been to a physician for any reason. All of my diagnoses were done over the phone. I expect, as I get older…this will be more and more the norm. Just one last note, I love jogging and am getting surgery with a long recovery time to allow that exercise again. No exercise? No weight loss. Diet alone will not do it. You need to put your body into an aerobic state of exercise. This is how people can jog 10 miles and, without exercises, jogging for a minute exhausts us,. A thank you for reading this and to spell check, who purposely messed up my post.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Richard, re: exercise: good luck with the surgery. I find that running makes me work harder than using an elliptical. Swimming is good but again, I don’t think it makes me work as hard aerobically as running does.

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:

        Thank you for your kind words Lila. Aerobically (though it takes a few months to achieve), with a simple diet makes the pounds drop. Jogging is an exhausting exercize but works. I could care less about all of those phoney diet pills that melt fat, newly discovered diets or contraptions that you have to put together in your basement, which you never use. (they are mostly the infomercials). Even old fashioned aerobic classes are beneficial but even THEY are a bit too much for me if I can’t keep up. For me, jogging is peaceful. Hard work, but peaceful.

  4. avatar D C says:

    ““THIS BUSINESS is scrounging around for what to do. The medium is busy knocking its brand out to display the fat lady at 375 pounds, who in two months is gonna be 240. Who gives a shit?” asks the one and only Jerry Lewis.”

    Wow.  I’ve always heard that Jerry Lewis was a real bastard, but I kinda figured he’d mellow a bit in his old age. 

    And a LOT of people “give a shit.”  A lot of people are inspired by what they are seeing on The Biggest Loser.  A lot are inspired to get up and do something about their weight issues.  When you see someone who outweighs you by possibly hundreds of pounds getting up and changing diet and adding serious exercise and looking fabulous after several weeks, it makes you realize it’s possible to do the same thing. 

    Is that the best you can do to feel superior?  Really?  Oh well.  Haters gonna hate. 

  5. avatar Deeliteful says:

    My sister and I have a running joke about how easily amused we are these days – these days being the days since we hit our fifties. As we approach 60 it takes even less to make us laugh at ourselves, others and life in general. One either laughs or cries and most days we choose laughter.
    Feet – another thing we laugh/cry about. I can’t wear a shoe without some sort of heel and my sis can’t wear shoes with a heel. We inherited some very strange feet. We both have wear a narrow width; I’m a size 9 1/2 and she is an 8 1/2 – both difficult to find. We go for comfort these days and our 81 y/o mother still wants to wear her pretty strappy sandles even though they do not provide the comfort and stability she needs. My nieces are 20 and 29. Both wear size 11. Fortunately, they wear a medium width and are able to find great shoes. I’m so glad manufacturers have realized the market is there.

  6. avatar French Heart says:

    I think that’s true, Liz. When younger a person tends to be piling up experience, education, accomplishments as excited as a puppy at the beach. Later the pooch is content to savor the beach without running around like her tail’s on fire.

    Love Gloria S. but haven’t had a TV in 20-years. Agree with Jerry Lewis it’s full of tasteless schlock. Things would like to see often appear later online–like Hulu.com Just saw years ago 60-Minute & also Dave Letterman interviews of Anna Wintour on youtube. Excellent. Love her. Ordered the ‘September Issue’ as a result from Amazon.

  7. avatar Caroline says:

    You made very hateful comments about obesity and The Biggest Loser. You should be ashamed of yourself.  I don’t see that you are a perfect person, wrinkle free, sag free, fat free so who are you to put down anyone else? 

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Liz dear, it may soon toll for you!