March Goes Out Like A Lion

melanie Not since Gone With The Wind, when Melanie spies her husband, Ashley Wilkes, a tiny, limping figure emerging on a path, returning world-weary from the war, and makes a tearful, mad dash, arms open wide, running across the open fields of Tara to welcome him home, has there been such an emotional, heart-wrenching reunion until the reunion of Christian the Lion, and his surrogate parents, Australians John Rendall and Anthony Bourke, who purchased Christian at Harrod’s as a cub in 1969. Nearly a year later, Christian, having outgrown his rectory playground, was flown to Kenya, and reintegrated into the wild. The following year, his human family went to visit him in his new home in Africa. In December of last year, a video of their reunion surfaced on Youtube, flooded the internet, and left millions crying to the tune of Whitney Huston’s warbling of I Will Always Love You.


Of course, like all things hip and cool, I missed it. And, when I brought it up at knitting circle on Wednesday nights, enough other people had missed it that posting this lovely bit of schmaltz – a veritable animated Hallmark card – on the last Friday in March, my least favorite month, seemed appropriate.


So Happy Almost End of March! Enjoy!

Just Say No! Steve’s Gotta Go!

I’ve been walking around slightly irritated for two days now.


Is it the 19% proposed increase in my property taxes?  No.


That I bought 10 random Powerball tickets yesterday, and three of them had 29 as the Powerball?   Slight annoyance, but eh, whatever.


Constipation?  No, all is fine down there, thanks.


No, I’ve been stewing.


WTF is Steve Wozniak still doing on Dancing with the Stars?????


If there’s one thing I hate more than clowns and midgets, its Steve Wozniak on Dancing with the Stars.


Not only is this guy the worst dancer EVER, if he keeps going, I reallywozniakdancing think his ring around the rosies style of dancing (all fall down!) is going to do serious damage to his partner.  I don’t care he’s a nice guy, I don’t care he’s a nerd and it would be nice for a nerd to do well with the cool kids – he can’t dance, and he should be banished.  And, after his accusations that Dancing with the Stars is rigged, he’s a bad sport.


I’m not saying I’m disappointed that that lunatic, plastic faced Denise Richards got the boot (did anyone notice Maks constantly whispering in her ear?  I think he was saying thinks like, “you are crazy in the head, woman, you know that?” and “it’s not complicated – you’re a cooky looky,” and “you’re gone tonight, looney tooney and I can’t wait to run so far, so fast away from you”)  Nor would I have been sad to see that lazy playboy bunny hit the road (did you see that look on her face when she didn’t get kicked off – sheer disappointment that she couldn’t go back to sleeping until  4 p.m) but come on – this guy is worse than Chloris Leachman, and let me tell ya, I hated Chloris.


You’d think from my serious case of irritation, I’d be a ballroom purist – but I don’t know a bogo pogo from a twinkle step.  If I attempted a quick step, it would be a quick fall.  And, am I offended like Carrieann when someone oopsy’s and takes their foot off the ground?  Nah, big deal, put a sock in it already Carrieann.  But, I am the girl who has an autographed picture of Gene Kelly in my library, and grew up with a serious fascination with the American Movie Musical.  A vote for Steve Wozniak is like saying f- you to Fred Astaire – and who would ever say f- you to Fred?   Would anyone have paid their nickel to see Steve trod on Ginger’s toes?  Of course not! 


On Monday and Tuesday night, I just want to sit in front of my t.v., knit, and see something graceful and beautiful (or hot and steamy like the naked guy from Sex and the City) – even Steve-O is at least trying, and you’d never know that the Queen Bee turned the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia into Jailhouse Rock with all of her new found posh.  I do not want to watch the Pillsbury Doughboy in lederhosen (’cause you know some crazy Bavarian Bratwurst dance is coming – I can just see the producers thinking how great it would look for his belly to be hanging out between suspenders.  And, instead of the worm, he could do some crazy thing called the sausage!) . 


So, if you want to save me much grief and consternation, please vote for someone other than Steve on Monday.  I really don’t want to have to boycott my favorite show.

Goodbye, Farewell, Amen to Wolf, Block

My road to legal fame and fortune began when I was fifteen years old (although some may say it began in the womb, as I  emerged stubborn and argumentative).  My mom worked at a now defunct personal injury law firm as a legal secretary.  In my mom’s day, being a legal secretary meant, “I could be the lawyer, but I don’t have the piece of paper.”  She opened the files, generated the complaints, wrote the settlement letters, filed the pleadings, everything — and all in some cockamamy thing called shorthand. 


From the minute I walked in the door as a summer file girl, she kept pushing me – ask to work the switchboard, they need a fill in — learn that.  Ask to type dictation – you can type, never mind you don’t know how to use the dictaphone, you’ll figure it out later.  Tell them you can comp the medical bills, I don’t care if you’re scared – just do it!  There was always another skill to pick up, another thing to make myself useful – and valuable.  And, if I ever was going to become a lawyer, because to her, I certainly wasn’t going to be the secretary, I would be ready, ready from the ground up.


And, if I was going to be a lawyer – there was no way I was going to be a shyster PI lawyer – oh, no – she said, you’ll work some place – some place like Wolf Block.


Wolf Block was it – if you were a Jewish lawyer, working at Wolf Block meant you had arrived, you had made it, you were really the real deal.  You could now call yourself a “Philadelphia lawyer.”  All of the lawyers who worked at our small personal injury firm said, “Wendy, you don’t want to be a lawyer.  Don’t become a lawyer.  But if you have to be a lawyer, be a lawyer at Wolf Block.”   These PI lawyers were overworked, they made no money, they sued over slip and falls, car accidents, botched minor medical procedures.  They walked with their heads tilted to the side, as if too heavy to hold up.  And, to these weary, miserable guys who hated their jobs, and hated being a lawyer, Wolf Block was like a mirage, a geyser in the desert. 


And, as I grew up, their hopes grew – she got into Penn State main campus – next stop Wolf Block.  Temple Law? Moot court? Law Review?  Wolf Block here she comes.


And, when I became a public defender?  Eh, they said, she’ll do that for a couple of years – and then Wolf Block.


Well, the road that took me to the public defenders office took me through a few large law firms, as a secretary, and from the behind the scenes, after hours view I had (I worked my way through law school as secretary on the night staff of a big firm), it wasn’t for me.  But, it’s still with sadness that I wish a fond farewell to Wolf Block Schorr and Solis Cohen, which voted yesterday to close their doors.


Wolf Block was founded in 1903 as Stern & Wolf.  In 1935, it’s founding partner, Horace Stern, became the first Jew elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and eventually became its Chief Justice.  Up until the mid 60’s, it was the only elite Philadelphia firm where  a Jewish lawyer could get a job.  In 1962, half of the largest firms in Philadelphia had no Jewish attorneys, and the rest had a token one or two.  It really wasn’t until after 1964, when the Union League finally voted to accept Jewish members that doors finally started to open for Jews in the larger law firms. 


To me, it’s hard to imagine a time when doors were closed to Jewish lawyers, but they were.   The legal community, you would think, would be the last place you would find anti-Semitism, but it was a truth nonetheless.  And while Wolf Block wasn’t always a harbor for liberal thinking — participating in the McCarthy witch hunt for Communists in the 1950’s and defending Jefferson University’s firing of several, alleged Communist doctors — it was still always a front runner for at least religious diversity. 


Wolf Block’s disintegration is no surprise – it’s been coming for a few years, as one failed merger attempt after another was reported in the Legal Intelligencer.  But, there’s still a difference between recognizing an economic reality, and accepting that an icon for Jewish success is no longer going to be part of the fabric of Philadelphia’s legal community.  And, while being a lawyer a Wolf Block is hardly a measure of “success” to me, I still know how proud my mother would have been (of course, she’s proud of me here), and the other guys at the PI firm, would have been, had a hung up my shingle behind the hallowed doors at Wolf Block, and what they stood for.


So, goodbye to Wolf Block, and good luck to the 300 or so attorneys who now find themselves jobless, as well as the equal number of staff members who now have to find a job in this dreadful economy.  Paths take you to strange places sometimes, and who would have ever thought Wolf Block’s path would come to a deadend..

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