Jim Dandy

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Hey, if it’s good enough for Jimmy Fallon, popular new host of “The Tonight Show,” let’s all get on board: Be the first in your hood to start The Handwritten Thank You Note Movement! Time to forget about those generic email thank yous. Surprise! This ritual of politesse is not just for the Senior Set. Check out what Carroll Irene Gelderman, 20, a Columbia University student from New Orleans did when she was named the 2014 Queen of Carnival. Order new stationery, of course, to thank all those in her Mardi Gras Queen’s court paying homage. Apparently, we’re talking hundreds of gifts here.

“Like a lot of people in my generation, I might think, ‘Oh, just send them a text,'” notes this with-it queen. “But I actually enjoyed writing the notes because the process of opening a note, feeling the paper, seeing the imperfection of the writing, reading the message in another person’s voice, you actually feel like you have a piece of that person in your hand.”

“It is so important, in a digital world, to have the dignity to sit down and write something in your own hand,” adds Cristiano Magni, a New York fashion publicist who would know a thing or two about communicating. “It not only strengthens the bonds between people, in your personal life and in business,” Magni says about sending a handwritten note. “It also rings an emotional chord.” Too true.

A recent thank you from my stepdaughter, Stephanie

A recent thank you from my stepdaughter, Stephanie

Good News, Sad News…

Looks like we can silence the death knell sounding the demise of the independent bookstore – for now. And ironically, the good news hales from Seattle, home of Amazon which is often blamed for how these bookstores are struggling and, even worse, closing. Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company, one of the city’s largest independent booksellers, reports its first substantial profit in almost 20 years! According to the American Booksellers Association Seattle has become one of the most successful independent bookstore cities in the country.

A creative take on those pedestrian book of days offerings from author-turned-bookseller, Tom Nissley

A creative take on those pedestrian book of days offerings from author-turned-bookseller, Tom Nissley

I was also surprised to learn that Tom Nissley, the author of a book I picked up this winter and turn the pages of every day, recently signed a contract to buy and run his own independent Seattle bookstore, Phinney Books. And guess what? He’s a former Amazon employee. I’m loving Nissley’s “A Reader’s Book of Days.” Besides the predictable author birth and death dates, each day has literary tidbits: educational, moving and or funny —

April 13, 1963: “Flannery O’Connor confessed to a friend, ‘The other day I postponed my work an hour to look at W.C. Field in ‘Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.'”

February 22, 1938: “On his thirteenth birthday, Edward Gorey joined the crowd at a Sonja Henie ice show in a snowball-throwing riot.”

For each month, Nissley also supplies a suggested reading list. What more could a book lover ask for?

Rizzoli with its signature Diocletian window, a semi-circular window style that was used as early as the 16th century

Rizzoli with its signature Diocletian window, a semi-circular window style that was used as early as the 16th century and is similar to the one Colette had in her Palais-Royal apartment in Paris in the late Twenties

Rizzoli's interior with one of its dazzling cast iron chandeliers

Rizzoli’s interior with one of its dazzling cast iron chandeliers

Alas, with the good, must come the sad: the closing last week of Rizzoli, that bookstore jewel on Manhattan’s 57th St. When in New York, I’d always try to stop by and be comforted by its old-world, quiet and civilized interior with classical music to match. All those foreign magazines, the rich and weighty coffee table books. I will miss it.

A Deadly Distraction

Don

Don


My brother met Don at Tulane Law School in New Orleans many years ago. They were classmates and stayed close friends even with Don remaining not far from New Orleans in nearby Pass Christian, MS on the Gulf Coast and Tony living miles away in Maryland. Don took a graduate degree at NYU when I was working in New York and we’d occasionally pal around. A loyal friend, he came to my wedding in Oregon in the late Eighties. Several years later we visited Don in Crested Butte, CO which may have been the last time I saw him.
Over the years, I would hear about Don from Tony, trips he had taken, visits he had made. He loved to travel and was a great history buff.
This winter, we learned that Don had been in a car accident in April 2013 which plunged him into a coma. Only after he died last month, never regaining consciousness, did some of the details of the accident come through. He had been on his cell phone, either talking or texting – DOES IT MATTER? – and had gotten distracted.
Apparently, the type of brain trauma Don had experienced, known as shearing or tearing of the brain, could not have been worse, as I learned from a website:
“Tearing in the brain is very serious because in a sense it ‘cuts the wires’ that make the brain work. In fact this can be the most problematic of all the possible ways the brain can be damaged.”
What a pointless way to leave such a full life, one that included his wife, Kathleen, and daughter, Elizabeth.