Pete Buttigieg: Shortest Way Home

              In January 2011, Newsweek magazine published an article titled “America’s Dying Cities” focusing on 10 cities with the steepest drop in overall population as well as the largest decline in the number of residents under the age of 18. Among those listed such as Detroit and Flint, was South Bend, Indiana which over the years had lost or seen diminished several large manufacturing companies including Studebaker and an exodus of young talent.

              “What is particularly troubling for this small city is that the number of young people declined by 2.5% during the previous decade,” the article posited, “casting further doubt on whether this city will ever be able to recover.”

              Around that same time, Pete Buttigieg, who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and had worked for the management strategy consulting firm McKinsey and Company—the type of resume that screams New York, Los Angeles or London, but certainly not his native South Bend—moved back to the city where he grew up and threw his hat into the ring as a Democratic mayoral candidate. He was 29 years old.

Buttigieg won his election. During his first term, as an officer in U.S. Navy Reserve from 2009-2017, he took a leave of absence to serve for a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan in 2014, receiving the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his counter terrorism work. Back home, he won re-election with 80% of the vote despite having come out as gay just four months earlier. Let me repeat that—a gay man was re-elected in Indiana with 80% of the vote.

              “I’ve found people are really accepting,” Buttigieg tells me when we finally connect on the phone—since we set up a time to talk it’s been changed numerous times because he’s been very busy since announcing he was going to run for president. He’s appeared on “The View,” “CBS This Morning,” and “CNN” and has been interviewed by Rolling Stone, the New Yorker and the New York Times to name just a few. Plus, his father, a Notre Dame professor, had passed away.

              The citizens of South Bend also like results and this city, which Newsweek had doubted could come back just eight years ago, is doing just that.

              Buttigieg, who is only 37, shares both his story and the story of South Bend as well as his views for creating a bright future for our country in his new book, Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future (Liveright 2019; $27.95).

              I live near South Bend, my brother taught at Notre Dame University for 30 years, my son went to Holy Cross College and I’m a big football fan so I’m there a lot. Over the years I’ve watched the city’s downtown empty out, morphing into a place of empty storefronts as retail and restaurants left either for good or for the area around University Mall, a large sprawling indoor shopping center surrounded by smaller strip malls, car dealerships and both chain and independent restaurants.

              Then came such Buttigieg initiatives as “1000 Homes in 1000 Days initiative,” which demolished or rehabilitated abandoned homes in the city. His “Smart Streets” redefined the downtown, making it both safer and more appealing. Two years ago, the city made the largest investment ever—over $50 million– in its parks and trails, creating the green spaces so valued by urban dwellers. 

              “There’s been an evolution in economic redevelopment,” Buttigieg tells me. “It’s not about smoke-stack chasing anymore. The coin of the realm is the work force—the people. A city is made of people and it needs to be fun and a place you want to live. We didn’t have those expectations before.”

              Buttigieg talks of “urban patriots,” a term he uses to describe groups of people who savor the challenge of turning a rust belt city around and making it a “cool” city.

              “It’s a type of militancy in how people are approaching it which is quite different than when people were leaving cities,” he says. “I grew up believing success had to do with leaving home, but once I got out, I missed that sense of place and I realized I could be part of my city’s economic re-development. So, I moved home. At a moment when we’re being told that the Rust Belt is full of resentment, I think South Bend is a reply, we’ve found a way of coming together, getting funding to make our city better. There’s a sense of optimism. I think people are beginning to look at politics and politicians and asking do they make life better or not and what do they bring to the table to help everyone.”

              Here’s what South Bend is like now. You can go white water rafting through the center of town. Vibrant neighborhoods consisting of coffee shops, eclectic boutiques, trendy restaurants and outdoor gathering places thrive in the downtown. Last fall, Garth Brooks performed outdoors in Notre Dame’s football stadium (its $400 million expansion which added several thousand premium seats as well as new academic buildings was completed just two years ago) in front of a sold-out crowd of 84,000 on a very cold and rainy October night. SF Motors started manufacturing at the old Hummer plant, producing electric cars. Walking trails, including one along the St. Joseph River, abound.  Eddy Street Commons located across from the Notre Dame campus continues to expand, a destination of bars, shops and eateries as well as condos and apartment buildings. Old neighborhoods with homes that once had sagging porches and peeling paint, are now pristinely restored.

              “We’re calling out to another generation,” says Buttigieg. “There’s an energy here, people are proud of their city and are working together to make it even better.”

              Indeed. The other day, I was flipping through a magazine article about the best places in Indiana and paused at a magnificent photo of a downtown scene lit with colored lights reflecting on the sparkling waters of a river. Where is this? I wondered. Looking down, I saw the answer: South Bend.

The Border: A Novel (Power of the Dog)

          “I’ve long and often said that the ‘Mexican Drug Problem’ is really the American drug problem,” says Don Winslow who recently completed The Border, the third book in his Cartel Trilogy.

          While Winslow is writing fiction, his New York Times bestselling books are all too real.

          “We’re the consumers and the ones funding the cartels and fueling this violence because of our demand for drugs,” says Winslow. “And then we have the nerve to point to Mexico and talk about Mexico corruption. What about our corruption?  If there’s anyone who should be building a wall, it’s Mexico to protect themselves from our demand.”

          Winslow’s fast action paced books, written in a style he describes as “close third person,” are good reads on several levels, including the enjoyment of a well-researched thriller about Drug Enforcement Agency undercover operative Art Keller and his long struggle in a harrowing world amidst Mexican cartel power struggles, traffickers, drug mules, teenage hitmen, families seeking asylum to escape the drug wars, narcos, cops and political corruption on both sides of the border as well as attorneys and journalists.

          The other level is the indictment of what he views as a failed policy by the U.S. to stem the tide of drugs.

“We’ve had a War on Drugs for almost 50 years and last year more people died of drug overdoses than ever before,” says Winslow. “We’ve already had this lab experiment and it was called Prohibition. As long as you have people wanting drugs, you’ll have people selling drugs. The way to end the violence and crime that goes along with drug use is to legalize drugs and treat them as the social health problem they are.”

Whether you agree with Winslow, whose books have been acquired by FX Networks for television, his writing is compelling as he takes us into a world he has inhabited since his first book, The Power of the Dog, was published. He intended to end the series with The Cartel, his second book about Keller, which he sold to Fox for a seven-figure amount.

“I swore that was my last book—I was done,” he says. “But the difficulty was that the story wasn’t. The violence in Mexico is increasing, the heroin epidemic in the U.S. is killing more people and the immigration issue—there was more to discuss. Like in my first two books, I had more to say through the medium of crime fiction.”

Winslow says the escalating violence in Mexico is amazing. In 1998, the big news was the murder of 19 people in a Mexican village that was drug related.

“By the time I was working on The Cartel, that kind of incident wouldn’t even be in the papers, it’s such a low body count,” says Winslow, noting that the difficulties in writing his earlier books was finding people involved in the drug trade who were willing to talk. “By the time I got done writing The Cartel, people who had been hiding their crimes were celebrating them.”

But Winslow says he’s seeing a definite groundswell of change.

“Cities are doing some really interesting and forward thinking about it,” he says. “We have a 2.2 million prison population behind bars and 20% of that is drugs; we have 181,000 in Federal prison and around 90,000 of those are drug related. We are the market for drugs. We’re 5% of the world’s population and we use 80% of the opioids. We need to be doing something different.”

Though he says he’s done with the Cartel Trilogy, Winslow acknowledges it was weird when he sent off his final manuscript.

“That was 20 years of my life, a total of one-third of my life,” he says.

Visit Don Winslow.com

50 Ways to Love Wine More: Adventures in Wine Appreciation!

Jim Laughren wants to keep it real when talking about wine. No pretentions, no superciliousness.

It’s about what you like, not what the big time wine critics say you should like says Laughren, author of 50 Ways to Love Wine More: Adventures in Wine Appreciation! (Crosstown Publishing 2018; $26.95), an NYC Big Book Award winner and finalist in the American Book Fest Best Book Awards.

“I wrote the book with the intention of starting a conversation about wine,” says Laughren, a Certified Wine Educator and former president of a wine import and distribution company. ““I wanted my book to be for people who really like wine but are put off by wine snobs. All of my writing and teaching is about letting people know that what other people think doesn’t matter, that there are no secrets to wine though many wine critics would have you believe otherwise and that only they hold the secrets. Historically, there’s never been a wine or gate keeper.”

Indeed, says Laughren, wine was, for centuries both seasonal and also for everyone.

“In Rome, they even gave their slaves wine though it was the dregs, of course,” he says. “Wine’s greatest gift is to give pleasure and we’re all entitled to that.”

Determining your own palate means trusting your own preferences. And though wine can be complex, it becomes easier to appreciate when a person understands how memory and emotion are inextricably tied to taste and are determining factors in all of our personal wine journeys.

“At the top of the nasal passage is the olfactory epithelium that connects directly to the area of the brain where memories are stored,” explains Laughren. “You know how some wines have tastes of tobacco. If as a child you had a kindly grandfather who smoked a pipe, contrasted with a child whose parents chain smokers and a house that reeked of cigarettes, those memories would impact how the two would feel about the taste or aromas of tobacco in wine.”

Laughren, founder of WineHead Consulting, encourages people to explore new wines while still enjoying your favorites.

“There are 10,000 different grape varietals,” he says. “Look at Italy, there are probably 800 varieties in that country alone.”

                     Like most of us, Laughren drank some funky wines in college.

                     “Most wines made in the 1970s were very sweet,” he says. “Group think changes. Now those in the know pooh-pooh sweet table wines as the drinks of the unwashed masses. But if that’s what you like, don’t spend too much time thinking about it, just enjoy them. Instead think about exposing yourself to other wines and widening your experience.”

          Ifyougo:

          What: Reading, signing, and wine tasting with renowned wine expert Jim Laughren who be discussing his new book, 50 Ways to Love Wine More.

          Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL

          When: Friday, March 29 at 7 p.m.

          Cost: Free

          FYI: Please call (773) 293-2665 to confirm

Food of the Italian South by Katie Parla



U Pan Cuott. Photo credit Ed Anderson.

It’s personal for Katie Parla, award winning cookbook author, travel guide and food blogger who now has turned her passion for all things Italian to the off-the-beaten paths of Southern Italy, with its small villages, endless coastline, vast pastures and rolling hills.
“Three of my grandmother’s four grandparents are from Spinoso, deep in a remote center of Basilicata,” says Parla, the author of the just released Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing Lost Dishes (Clarkson Potter 2019; $30).

Katie Parla in Southern Italy. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Parla is a journalist but she’s also a culinary sleuth, eager to learn all about foodways as well as to chronicle and save dishes that are quickly disappearing from modern Italian tables. She’s lived in Rome since graduating with a degree from Yale in art history and her first cookbook was the IACP award winning Tasting Rome. She’s also so immersed herself in Italian cuisine that after moving to Rome, she earned a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori, and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome.



Matera. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


In tiny Spinoso, Parla and her mother checked into one of the few available rooms for rent and went to office of vital statistics to find out more about family history.
“We made the mistake of getting there before lunch,” she says. “You could tell they really want to go home and eat. They told us there were only four or five last names in the village and since ours wasn’t one of them, then we couldn’t be there.”



Caiazzo. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


But Parla found that sharing wine with the officers soon produced friendlier results (“wine and food always does that in Italy,” she says) and after leafing through dusty, oversized ledgers written in fading, neat cursive they were able to locate the tiny house where her grandfather had lived as well as other extensive family history.
“Thank goodness for Napoleon, who was really into record keeping, no matter his other faults” says Parla.

Katie Parla. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Many of her ancestors were sheepherders, tending sheep, staying with a flock for a week in exchange for a loaf of bread. This poverty was one reason so many Southern Italians left for America. But it also is the basis for their pasta and bread heavy cuisine says Parla.
To capture the flavors of this pastoral area, Parla visited restaurants and kitchens, asking questions and writing down recipes which had evolved over the centuries from oral traditions.
Describing Rome, Venice and Florence as “insanely packed,” Parla believes that those looking for a less traveled road will love Southern Italy, an ultra-authentic region to the extent that in Cilento, for example, there are more cars than people on the road.




Spezzatino all Uva . Photo credit Ed Anderson.


“There’s all this amazing food,” she says. “But also, there’s all this unspoiled beauty such as the interior of Basilicata. And the emptiness, because so many people are gone, creates this sense of haunted mystery. It’s so special, I want people to understand the food and to visit if they can.”
For more information, visit katieparla.com


’U Pan’ Cuott’
Baked Bread and Provolone Casserole

Serves 4 to 6
1 pound day-old durum wheat bread (I like Matera-style; see page 198), torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
7 ounces provolone cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon peperoni cruschi powder or sweet paprika
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon peperoncino or red pepper flakes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Overview:
In Bernalda, a town in Basilicata best known as the ancestral village of Francis Ford Coppola, there are many ancient bread traditions. The town isn’t far from the durum wheat fields of the Murgia plateau and the famous bread towns Matera and Altamura. One of the town’s classic dishes is ’u pan’ cuott’ (Bernaldese dialect for pane cotto, “cooked bread”). Families would bake stale slices of Bernalda’s enormous 3-kilogram loaves with whatever food scraps they could find, resulting in a savory, delicious bread casserole bound by gooey bits of melted provolone. Use the crustiest durum bread you can find or bake.
Method:
Preheat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the center position.
Place the bread in a colander, rinse with warm water, and set aside to soften. The bread should be moistened but not sopping wet.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, provolone, peperoni cruschi, garlic, oregano, peperoncino, and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Season with salt.
When the bread crusts have softened, squeeze out any excess liquid and add the bread to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Stir to combine.
Grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, pour in the tomato mixture, and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on top. Bake until the top is heavily browned, and the provolone has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Spezzatino all’Uva
Pork Cooked with Grapes

Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, salted and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 cup dry red wine (I like Aglianico del Vulture)
2 bay leaves
4 cups pork stock or water
1 bunch of red grapes (I like Tintilia grapes), halved and seeded

Overview:
The foothills east of the Apennines in Molise grow Tintilia, an indigenous red grape known for its low yield and pleasant notes of red fruit and spices. Each year, the majority of the harvested grapes are pressed to make wine, with the remainder reserved for jams and even savory dishes like this pork and grape stew, which is only made at harvest time. The slight sweetness of the grapes mingles beautifully with the savory pork and herbaceous notes of the bay leaves. Salt the pork 24 hours in advance.
Method:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pork, working in batches as needed, and cook, turning, until it is browned on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium, and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the alcohol aroma dissipates and the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes, add the bay leaves.
Return the pork to the pan. Add enough stock so the meat is mostly submerged and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours more, until the pork is fork-tender. Add the grapes at the 1 ¼ hour mark and continue cooking until they are tender. If the sauce becomes too dry, add a bit more stock (you may not need all the stock). Serve immediately. 
Ifyougo:
What: Katie Parla has three events in Chicago
When & Where: March 19 from 6:30 to 9pm. Katie will be celebrating the release of her cookbook with her friends at Monteverde, 1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL. The cost of the dinner is $150 including food, wine pairings, tax, gratuity and copy of the book. (312) 888-3041.
When & Where: March 20 from 6 to 9pm. Katie will be hosting an aperitivo and signing at Lost Lake’s Stranger in Paradise, 3154 W Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL. No booking necessary, just come on down. Books will be sold on site by Book Cellar. (773) 293-6048.
Menu of five cocktails from the book, $12.
Three small plates (two pastas from Pastificio di Martino and olive oil poached tuna, endive and olives) from Chef Fred Noinaj, $12-15.
When & Where: March 21 from 6 to 7:30pm. Katie will host an aperitivo and sign books, which will be available for purchase at Bonci Wicker Park, 1566 N Damen Ave., Chicago, IL. (872) 829-3144.

The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz

              In Andrea Bartz’s mystery novel, The Lost Night, Lindsay Bach believes she remembers the night her once-best friend Edie committed suicide. It’s seared into her brain. Or so she thinks. Over dinner, a long ago friend who has just moved back to New York suggests that she wasn’t with the group like she believes. Could that be true? Getting a friend to hack into her old email account, Bach backtracks a decade ago to when she and her group of friends were post graduates starting jobs, consuming too much alcohol, partying too hard and falling in love—often.

(Photo by Kate Lord)

              With each new revelation about that time and her part in the days leading up to Edie’s death, Bach has to employ the skills she uses to fact check magazine articles for her job to do the same in her life. The questions are many, but the most important ones are did the captivating and beautiful Edie really commit suicide or was she murdered? And did Bach have something to do with her death that she can no longer remember.

              Bartz, who earned her master’s degree at Northwestern University and the author of Stuff Hipsters Hate, her blog turned book, says she wanted to write a book like those she likes to read—tomes by female mystery writers like Tana French, Gillian Flynn and Jessica Knoll. For inspiration, she turned to a time in her life—New York City in 2009. Like her favorite writers, the novel struck a note and even before the book was published at the end of February, it had already been optioned by Cartel Entertainment as a limited series with actress Mila Kunis’ Orchard Farm set to produce.

              “It was a crazy time and we were partying while the world was burning,” she says of her time as a 23-year-old.   “I thought of this time and how bizarre it all was and then interlaid it with a mysterious death. It opens up a certain subculture that I hope is interesting to readers, it certainly was introspective for me.”

              The novel, atmospheric, intense and intriguing, reflects an interest in psychology and memory that has always interested Bartz—and Bach, the character Bartz describes as being most like her. In an early chapter, Bartz tells a lover how drunk blackouts mean that the incidents that occurred never were recorded in our memories. They don’t exist and yet they happened.

              “We’ve all had those incidents where someone will describe an event and say you were there and you don’t remember it,” says Bartz, noting there’s something both creepy and disorienting about how there’s no hard and fast truth just different memories

              So, it is with Bach, who is shaken out of her of complacent lifestyle by having to grapple with the truth—as elusive as it is.        

Ifyougo:

What: Author Andrea Bartz will be answering questions about her new novel The Lost Night, and magician Jeanette Andrews will be wowing the audience with a short performance.

When: Wednesday, March 13 at 7-9 pm

Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (773) 293-2665; words@bookcellarinc.com

Getting to Calm: Cool Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens

Been there, done that and hate it.

A serious conversation with our child suddenly devolves into a fight worthy of an elementary school yard. Instead of being able to settle the issue, we instead find ourselves upset and angry and our children feeling the same.

That’s not the way to work things out. But how do we get back on track?

Laura Kastner, PhD, author of Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens and Wise Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens, suggests that first we need to get control of our own feelings.

“In my first book, Getting to Calm, I talk about emotional regulation,” says Kastner, a clinical psychologist and clinical professor in both the psychology department and the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. “When our kids push our buttons, we end up with what’s called emotional flooding. It’s where we have neurons fire in the emotional part of our brains. Our heart rate jumps, our thinking ability gets distorted and often we’re only thinking in very simple black and white terms—like I’m good; you’re bad. Unfortunately, our kids are probably at the same point and nothing is going to get resolved while you’re both in that state.”

What to do?

It’s all about gaining emotional regulation. First calm yourself down–unless your heart beat slows you can’t get into your thinking brain to evaluate how to handle the situation—take deep breaths, step out of the room for a moment or focus on serene thoughts. In other words do whatever it takes to get your feelings under control and return to a rational state of mind.

“Once you get to calm, then you can decide how to handle the problem whether it’s having just discovered marijuana in your kid’s sock or they’ve been drinking and can’t understand why you’re so upset,” says Kastner, noting that one of her favorite mantras for getting control is repeating “the only person you can control is yourself. You want to connect before you correct, if it’s not going well, back off.”

But getting to calm doesn’t make the original issue go away. Now a parent has to use their cognitive skills to be wise minded, to know their values and what they believe is right.

Just as importantly, no matter the behavior, Kastner says we need to listen with empathy and create a connection by understanding your child’s emotions.

“Maybe they want to go to an overnight party but you’ve just learned no adults will be there,” she says.  “Say something like I know you really want to go to that party, but no you can’t. Another of my mantras is you might be right but is that effective? If you are sympathetic and kind, there’s a higher likelihood that it will work than if you become a tyrant and just say no. Teenagers have their own moral reasoning and can really believe that it’s okay for them to do things they shouldn’t.”

When a teenager or a child is flooding to the point where they’re having a melt down, it’s not a good time to talk, says Kastner who compares that situation to trying to reason with a drunk.

“Touch them gently, shoot some hoops, look at animal videos but don’t try to talk about the issue,” she says. “Don’t leave the room without saying you’ll be right back because that feels like abandonment. And if you’ve gotten too upset, use I statements—say I was so angry, I really regret what I said, I wish I hadn’t. Tell them you’re going to hate my jurisdiction; I get it but I’m saying no. Validation is not giving in. It just lets them know we understand.”

Sidebar: Wise-Minded Mantras

In Wise-Minded Parenting, Laura Kastner suggests repeating these mantras to yourself the next time you’re losing emotional control.

  • My teen is doing the best she can, given her age and stage.
  • Good character does not guarantee good behavior full-time.
  • My love messages really matter, even if my teen can’t resist expressing disgust or irritation.
  • My goal is to demonstrate emotional intelligence, not to control my teen’s reactions.
  • I will not cave when faced with high emotions.

Renegade Women in Film and TV

              When we think of power brokers—the people who produce and direct movies or write the scripts, the names that come to mind are mostly males. Film critic Elizabeth Weitzman sets about changing all that in her new book, Renegade Women in Film & TV (Clarkson Potter 2019; $16.99). Told in short biographies, some highlighted with interviews, this wonderfully illustrated book is a gem to read as it highlights women in films who have broken the glass ceiling.

              “There has been a lot of talk in recent years about how underrepresented women have always been in Hollywood, says Weitzman, who was named one of New York’s Top Film Critics by the Hollywood Reporter and who earned a master’s degree in cinema studies. “And although that’s true, it only tells half the story. The reality is that women have been essential innovators in entertainment from the very beginning. But they’ve been written out of history so consistently that few people were even aware of their enormous accomplishments.”

              As just one of many examples, Weitzman writes about first female filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché who film historians believe is also the first person to make a narrative film–her 1896 short The Cabbage Fairy.

              Deciding who to include in her book (we’re hoping for a sequel) wasn’t an easy process for Weitzman. If she’d gone with all the trailblazers, her book would have been hundreds of pages long.

Rita Moreno by Natalie Mulford

              “When my editor said we had room to honor fifty of them, I did panic a little,” she recalls. “I couldn’t imagine how to narrow down the list so much. But I really wanted to share stories that represent a broad range of experiences, while also showing how the industry has changed over the last century.”

              Weitzman always wanted to change the image of female imagine silent film stars as damsels in distress, tied to railroad tracks and waiting to be rescued. That’s why she included the story of Helen Gibson, a silent-era teenager who quit her job at a cigar factory to teach herself trick riding—and then became the country’s first stuntwoman.

              “And everyone should know the story of the gorgeous, gifted Dorothy Dandridge, who was both the first African-American to be nominated for a lead actor Oscar and the first person to integrate many of the places she visited,” she says. “But every story in the book is more compelling than any movie could be. Renegades don’t ever choose an easy path, so their experiences are all unique, and all fascinating.”

Jessica Williams
by Natalie Mulford

Contemporary icons like Barbra Streisand, Rita Moreno, and Sigourney Weaver also win Weitzman’s admiration.

“All of them shared insights that surprised me,” she says. “And I will admit I wasn’t expecting these great women to be so down-to-earth and funny and blunt about their experiences in Hollywood.”

              Weitzman also includes a chapter called Essential Viewing, in which she suggests must-see movies and shows from each woman featured.

Alla Nazimova by Natalie Mulford

“Fans of old films will already know this,” she says, “but I think some people may be surprised by how modern and witty and fun so much of their work still feels today. I made sure to choose options that were all easy to find, so I hope people will discover some new favorites among them.”

Though she was familiar with the works of many of the pioneers in film, Weitzman became even more impressed when learned more about their lives, struggles, determination and how ahead of their times they all were.

Nora Ephron by Natalie Mulford

 “So often, pioneers are pushed aside or overlooked altogether,” she says. “These incredible women made so many sacrifices to create a better world for us. It’s our responsibility to learn their names and share their stories.”

Ifyougo:

What: A screening of The Hitchhiker directed by Ida Lupino, best known as a sultry film star, introduced by Elizabeth Weitzman with a post-film book signing of Renegade Women in Film & TV.

When: Monday, March 4 @ 7pm

Where: The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL

Cost: Tickets only $11; tickets and a book $24. To order tickets, contact The Music Box at 773 871 6604; musicboxtheatre.com

FYI: This event is an off-site presentation by The Book Cellar, for more information (773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com

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