leanor Foa Dienstag

Essays / Op-Ed Pieces

Essays are brief, savory morsels I have indulged in over the years. Below are excerpts from a few of my favorites.


Thanks, Bonwit’s, For Keeping The Violets Until The End, The New York Observer

"I am staring with affection at a shopping bag from Bonwit's. Like Proust's Madeleine, the familiar bouquet of purple violets conjures up memories of an earlier time…when I was young and the bastions of New York shopping appeared as unchanging as Fifth Avenue's double-decker bus.

Today, I am gripped by an unfamiliar pang. The bag and the store are disappearing from New York, just as Wannamaker's, Klein's, De Pinna's, Best's, Peck & Peck, Franklin Simon, Orbach's and Altman's did before them. That visual icon of my youth—one of the few left from my growing up years—will become another artifact from a dead-and-buried civilization.

To tell the truth, as a kid I never liked a number of those stores."


Has Anybody Else Noticed, Op-Ed Page, The New York Times

"Has anybody else noticed that when a male off-duty police officer is killed, the media go looking for drugs, booze and payoffs, and when a female off-duty officer is killed, they look for rape and sex?

Has anybody else noticed the yawning chasm between the way the press is treating Sol Wachtler, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, and the way it treated Bess Myerson, the former New York City Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Miss America, when she was discovered to have acted in an obsessional way toward her ex-lover?

Has anybody else noticed the way the press instantly believed sexy Gennifer Flowers, who talked to the tabloid Star, and found it difficult to believe dignified Anita Hill, who talked to the Senate Judiciary Committee?"


Read This In Your Leisure Time, Savvy Magazine

"I know all about leisure time. I read about it. I hear about it. I work for a company whose fortunes depend on it. Social scientists and market researchers insist millions of Americans have it. And while I'm not one of those people who has to sit in a hot tub to know it exists, the truth is that, like China, Europe and Hoboken, I haven't seen much of it lately.

Alone with the two-paycheck family and inflation, leisure time is said to be growing. Compared to what? Compared to the Middle Ages, when people had 23 children and no dishwasher? Or compared to the Sixties, when America's cup bubbled over with bored housewives? Personally, my leisure time peaked when I reached the age of ten. It was the summer before fractions.

My sister and I talk about leisure time a lot. We have terrific phone conversations from our offices at midnight. Of course, now that I'm an executive and she's a big-time lawyer, we've learned speed-talk. For example, we never waste time saying, 'hello.' In fact, I've found this technique so effective that I'm drafting an article for The Harvard Business Review called, 'Cost Effectiveness or Conversation: Which?'


What TV Can Teach Your Kid, Upstate Magazine

"A few years ago, while I was sitting out my daily sentence at a park playground in New York with my two infant sons, I made a startling discovery: parents are often blazing fanatics when it comes to the subject of how they raise their children.

They may be perfectly reasonable on matters of foreign policy or integrated housing, but bring up the subject of Montessori vs. Summerhill or breast feeding vs. bottle feeding, and it's a scene out of Jekyl and Hyde.

There was one mother who refused to have her daughter inoculated against anything from smallpox to polio. Another had not served her son a morsel of meat during his five years on this earth. But the prize pair, as I recall, were a couple so set against artificially propping their child into a sitting position that he ate all his meals recumbent, like a Roman emperor, well into his second year.

The subject of children and TV seems to flush out equally extreme behavior in adults."



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