The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


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Being Different in A Trump Sort of World

I never realized that I was different from most kids my age until I was at least 4.  Sure, around Christmas time, I wondered why we didn’t have lights or decorations.  My mother just said that we celebrate Chanukah (yes, it really does have a Ch).  I also wondered why Santa didn’t visit us, and she told me that we had a special dot on our door that told Santa not to deliver gifts to our house.  Being gullible, I looked for that stupid dot long after I realized that Santa wasn’t real.  I never did find it.  Just another little disappointment that I’ve had to learn to live with.  Anyway, I was born in Montreal and raised in Sydney, a small city in Nova Scotia.  Being Jewish wasn’t the rule, it was the exception.  Once, when I was about 4, I was playing outside and an older boy, or should I say bully,  from around the corner drove his bicycle over my feet.  He did this simply because I was a Jew.  Luckily, I told my older sister and friend Paul what happened and my sister knocked him off of his bike, and Paul jumped on him and pulled his ears until he apologized.

There were other incidents as I was growing up.  One boy kept yelling “Jill is Jewish” in the playground.  I didn’t get too offended, because even though it was meant as a slur, it was just a fact.  A couple of other kids told me that they knew that I was rich because I was Jewish.  I had no idea what my parents had, all that I knew was that I never did get Superstar Barbie because they said that they couldn’t afford it.  My friends were all very respectful though and defended me when bullying came up.  Interestingly, my closest friends in high school were Muslims and Hindus.  None of us cared about what made us different – we grew up in a very similar way.  The most uncomfortable encounters actually were with adults.

My neighbour, who seemed like a perfectly nice man that let me take his dog for a walk when I was walking my own puppy, later became a bit of a terror.  He got fired from the bank when he told a Jewish customer that he wished Hitler had finished all Jews off.  He  held a bit of a grudge.  When I’d walk my dog, there were times that he would follow us around with his car getting a little too close for comfort.  He threatened to “take a stick” to me and my dog if I ever let Rascal on his lawn.  I was 8 years old at the time, and finally realized that there really was something different about me, something that certain people may not like.

My grade 12 English teacher was the second adult that made things uncomfortable for me.  Just my luck, we were reading “The Merchant of Venice” and he felt it necessary to discuss the character of Shylock’s Judaism for longer than necessary.  Some of what he said absolutely was important to the narrative of the play.   Throwing in his opinion that all Jews are rich, that you never see a Jewish cab driver or maintenance person wasn’t.  He directed comments about Jews being doctors mainly, looking right at me (my father was a doctor) when he said it was just a little slice of heaven.  There was more, but he’s not worth any extra time than this.  Again, most kids and teachers were great.  People from the East Coast (of Canada) are very friendly and welcoming.  Most of the time when they’d make comments or ask questions, it was curiosity, not malice.

When I moved to Toronto, I experienced far worse.  Here is a small smattering of things that I rarely have spoken to anyone about:

  • A woman walked up to me walking along the street with a friend, and said “Excuse me, do you think you are in Jew-town?”.  Me, “Pardon?”  thinking that she couldn’t have said that.  The woman retorted, “You heard me” and walked away.
  • A person, not realizing that I was Jewish, joked about my part time job as a cashier at a card store saying that I was playing “the Jewish” piano.
  • Sitting with a group of friends and acquaintances watching TV one day, a skit came on featuring Hasidic Jews.  It was funny, and if you can’t laugh at your own people, who can you laugh at?  One person took it one step too far and he said exactly these words, “I f%$king hate f$#king Jews with their f$#king big noses and f#$king big wallets.”  He went on to say more, but stopped after a minute more of his tirade when the room got very silent.  He turned to me and said, “Your not Jewish, are you?”.   The last words that I ever said to him were “As a matter of fact, I am”.
  • “You are such a nice person Jill, it’s really too bad that you are going to hell because you don’t accept Christ as your saviour.  Sin is sin in God’s eyes.”
  • “Oh, when I said that Jews were obnoxious and horrible, I didn’t mean you Jill, you aren’t like that.  I meant other Jews.”  If I had a dime for every time someone said some form of this to me, I’d have a couple of hundred dollars at least.
  • I’m not religious, but out of guilt (it’s one of the stereotypes of my religion that’s actually true), I go to synagogue twice a year on the High Holidays.  Every time that I go, there is security that has to check my purse before I’m allowed on the premises.  Imagine going to church and needing to have it checked by bomb-sniffing dogs and needing police protection?  That’s our normal.

The list goes on and on, as it probably does for everyone who is a visible or invisible minority.  There have been times when I’ve seen what it’s like for someone else.  I was in Memphis with my friend when we were waiting for a car rental place to open up.  An African American woman came out of a bus with a whole bunch of children who also happened to be African American.  She was distraught, because the store was late opening and they had to be on the road and she wanted to return the keys for a car.  We offered to do it for her, and she looked like she was going to cry.  She explained that it was just such a nice thing to do after she had such a rough day.   Her group was on a high after taking the kids to the National Civil Rights Museum.  When she checked into her hotel, the front desk clerk told her to keep her little (insert the “N” word here) quiet.  It was traumatizing for her to go from the extreme of how far her people had come, to how much further there still was to go.

Another time, I was on a bus, and there was a young-ish black child (maybe 11 or 12) on his own.  A mentally ill woman starting walking up and down the bus shouting derogatory things about black people.  It was awful, and I just wanted to die for this child.  I talked to him and said you know what she saying isn’t true.  She’s mentally ill, right?  He slowly nodded, but it was so heartbreaking.  I just kept talking to him the rest of the bus ride so that he wouldn’t feel so alone.

All of the things that have happened over the course of my life didn’t prepare me for what I saw in Charlottesville.  The march by the Neo-Nazis and KKK sent chills down my spine.  Watching them take over the streets with their tiki-torches and Anti-Semetic signs was a horrible reminder of what it must have been like to be a Jew (or any minority) in Germany in the 1930’s.  The weekend’s festivities where they spouted hate against African Americans and all other minorities was a reminder that there are home grown terrorists in the US (and Canada) too.  They are being enabled by a President that doesn’t understand moral equivalency because he is completely immoral.

Here is what I have to say to the KKK, the Neo-Nazis/Fascists and haters of all kind.  “Jews will not replace us” (coming from a Nazi Germany and Neo-Nazi saying meaning basically that whites will not be replaced with immigrants and non-whites) makes zero sense.  I have no desire to replace a racist, sexist low-life who spends most of their time hiding behind a hood.  What am I supposed to replace you at?  Marketing for the KKK?    I can imagine the campaigns now: “Wearing White after Labour Day – a Klan do”; “Waterproof Eye Liner – How to paint a Swastika on your face without smearing it.”;  “The All White/Alt Right Food Diet”; “17 Different Woods That Are Best for Burning Crosses”.  I could go on, but I won’t, they aren’t worth it.

If you hate people because of their colour, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender/gender orientation or any other reason, you are a loser.  Really, just a big, old loser.  All of the people marching in the streets for “their country” and “their land” should remember that by ancestry, they too are immigrants.  The only Native Americans, are just that, the Native Americans.  You know, the ones whose land your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents took away?  The Confederates lost the Civil War – get over it.  The Nazis lost World War 2 – it’s time to get on the right side of history.  The side that embraces people that are different than you.  The side that Trump seems confused by.  There are no “fine” Neo-Nazis or KKK.  There are fine people that may be white or black or gay or straight or trans or Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Native American/First Nations or Chinese or Japanese or South-East Asian or Arabic or even a mix of all of the above.  We need to learn from history so that the devastation of events like the Holocaust never happen again.

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Savannah for the Type A Traveller

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I decided to remove the “for dummies” out of my entry…mostly because my Mama always told me that stupid is as stupid does.  Yes, my lamb chops, it’s time to move from HOTLANTA to Savannah, and what a move it was!  Savannah was everything that I hoped for…and more!  Haunted, fun, and oh so Southern, the home to Forrest Gump gave this Type A Traveller a real taste of the South.  Magical manors, haunted houses, beautiful squares, cute Southern accents…what’s not to love?

If you need more inspiration to pick up your satchel and head south of the Mason-Dixon line, here are my picks for the top things to do in the Forest City:

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Ellis Square – the Johnny Mathis Statue

  • Check out some, or if your Type A, all of the 22 Squares.  I think we covered 19 by foot, but we saw each of the 22 squares and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  They are especially beautiful at night when everything looks vaguely haunted.

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  • Speaking of night time, go for a Haunted Carriage ride – there is no better city to do it in.  You’ll learn about all of the ghosts and goblins haunting the city.  The clip-pity clop of the horses hooves takes you back in time, but the sounds of 18 wheelers will remind you pretty quickly that you are in 2016. My favourite – at one inn, a ghost is known to steal bras.   Ladies, make sure you only bring the ones with the wires half out to the 17 Hundred 90 Inn or ghost Anna may help herself to some of your finer delicates.

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  • Walk, walk, walk.  You’ll see more of the city, and it’s really one that you need to stroll through like a proper Southern lady.

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  • Visit Forsyth Park – it’s beautiful and has an amazing fountain.  It’s the perfect place for a photo op for you selfie-lovers.
  • Stroll around the City Market – it’s a cute little pedestrian mall with restaurants, shops and bars.  It’s nicer than River Street which felt a little touristy to me….although considering I am a tourist, I shouldn’t be so judgy-wudgy.

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  • Stay at a historic hotel – we stayed at the River Street Inn – you really felt like you were stepping into another time.  It smelled vaguely like horse poop in some of the halls (thanks to some renos), but the rooms were fresh as a daisy and very turn of the century.  The perimeter of the hotel has gas lanterns lending to the atmosphere.

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  • If you are a movie buff, this is the place for you.  Forrest Gump was shot here. The church in the photo above was used in the first shot of the movie when the feather floated down.  The Legend of Bagger Vance, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (duh), the atrocious Forces of Nature, the foul The Last Song, Cape Fear and Glory are just some of the good, bad and ugly flicks produced here.
  • Hungry?  Then head over to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.  Ya’ll will have to wait in line for some down home (well, not my home) Southern Cooking.  It’s served family style, so you’ll break bread with a bunch of strangers.  I was lucky enough to be sitting with native Southerners so they explained what everything was.  Even if your like me, and not a meat lover, you’ll have plenty of options!  Try the black eyed peas, okra and spinach – all excellent!  You’ll walk away chugged full AND it’s one of the most unique dining experiences you can imagine.

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  • Last, but not least, go to the very popular Leopold’s Ice Cream.  The ice cream is ok, but if you are a film buff, the memorabilia is pretty cool!  The parlour is now owned by film producer Stratton Leopold, producer of Mission Impossible 3, The Big Chill, The Sum of All Fears, and many more movies.  Apparently he still helps out when he is in town.

The only thing that I didn’t like about Savannah?  Just the lack of time.  We did all of this, and more in just a day and a half.  Do a circle on a Hop On Hop Off bus, we had an amazing driver, she was hilarious!  We got a real sense of the city and learned more about the history than we could have done on our own.  It was an hour of time well spent!  I can’t wait to go back but first, it’s on to Spain and Portugal!

 


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Atlanta for Dummies and Type As (Part 3)

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College Football Hall of Fame + Really Large Looking Teeth

Dear readers, I saved the best for last. These are your mainstay attractions, the things that all good tourists do while they are in The Big A.  I, of course, being a Type A Traveller decided to do them all in one day (and made my friend suffer right along with me). Don’t do this!  I repeat, learn from my mistakes and barking dogs (sore feet).  Pick two or three of these and do them well!  Or don’t listen to me and do them all in one day…if you dare (insert evil laugh here – MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)….

Stop #1 – The World of Coca Cola

Don’t choke on your Coke, but this place was amazing!  Maybe it’s my years in marketing, but I found the World of Coca Cola to be a world of fun!  You start your tour by selecting one of three soft drinks – Coke, Diet Coke or Coke Zero (I picked Zero).  Then, you walk into a room with some very excited guides who join you on the first part of the tour.  Their enthusiasm was contagious (unlike the bored guide at CNN).  They hyped up the crowd, and there really was one in a cool holding area (filled with memorabilia).  After finding out where everyone was from, they gave us an overview of the upcoming self-guided tour, and then we went to watch a 5 minute commercial – I mean movie – about Coca Cola.  So well done that I ended up with a lump in my throat, and no, it wasn’t just Aspartame.  You leave the theatre and if you have three hours, you can line up for a pic with the Polar Bears.  They were just mobbed so I settled for a photo op with the stuffed animals in the gift shop and recommend that you do to.  The only negative thing about this place was the need to charge you for photos at every turn.  You can then go see the safe where they have the secret formula for Coke (yeah right) and as you walk in, you can pose for another $20 photo!  I declined and just enjoyed the little show that they put on.  Next, you can tour the history of the soft drink.  Amazingly, I saw an old ad with a woman who looked just like my beloved grandmother (see above – the lady in the middle is her identical twin).

Keep trekking through, and you can see Modern Coke Art and even more memorabilia including the American Idol couch (another photo op that you can skip).  You can watch the bottling process before you go into the coolest part of the museum – the Taste It Beverage Lounge.  You can literally try Coke products from almost every continent, and that’s exactly how they’ve divided it!  Just don’t try Beverly from Italy.  My friend warned me and I didn’t listen – it was GROSS!!!  A lot of the drinks are very sweet, but if you like that sort of thing, go for it.  You can get a bonus glass bottle of Coke on your way into the gift shop.  I skipped it, we had a lot of walking ahead.  The gift shop was HUGE and the customer service was great.  They gave me 25% off my purchase because I had to wait so long for a price check (and I didn’t even complain).

Stop #2 – The College Football Hall of Fame

Honestly, I’m not a sports fan, but this was pretty fun!  It’s worth an hour of your time, which is how long we stayed.  You choose a team and all of the details are programmed into your handy dandy pass.  You can find your team’s helmet on the wall (photo above, for sure you can figure out which one it is).  I picked Hawaii for no particular reason other than the fact that I like it there.  Take a picture near the Step and Repeat and then your ready to kick a field goal (unless, like me, you are wearing sandals).  Then, throw the ball into a net thing-y!  It was fun – even for me.  After we left the field and headed into the museum, I can’t remember much.  The coolest thing was when you would step in front of exhibits and they would greet you by name.  Other than a “digital” face painting station, and seeing some awards (including the Rose Bowl and Heisman Trophy, it was a little lost on me.

Stop #3 – The Center for Civil and Human Rights

If I can sum this museum up in two words – AMAZINGLY POWERFUL is what comes to mind.  This isn’t a museum filled with artifacts.  It’s interactive and interesting exhibits including one that lets you experience what it was like to be a Civil Rights Activist as they tried to desegregate lunch counters in the 1960s.  See if you can last the full two minutes – and remember that the activists in the 1960s lasted for hours!   I won’t tell you more than that – you need to experience this place.

Stop #4 – The Georgia Aquarium 

 

Yes, we did the Georgia Aquarium too!  We have the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto which is just as good except that we don’t have penguins or Whale Sharks.  I found some of the aquariums a little blurry including the conveyer belt that takes you through the shark tunnel.  Don’t miss the room with the huge window into their dwelling – it’s incredible.  Have a seat and stay awhile, it’s a highlight.  The penguins were cute too, but they looked a little squished.  I skipped the dolphin show since I don’t agree with keeping sea mammals captive.  Outside of the sharks and the penguins, the sea otters were pretty fun to watch.  The sea lions also looked pretty squished, so if that kind of thing upsets you, skip that exhibit.  Skip the educational part at the end – it’s intended more for kids and seemed like a big time waster.  Don’t skip the Aquarium, but realize that it will be packed and it’s not a meditative experience.  I think I even saw a shark roll their eyes at seeing another tourist.

I think that outside of the State Capitol, Buckhead, The Carter Library and a couple of small things here and there, we literally did everything possible in HOTLANTA.  It’s worth a visit, but three days is plenty!  I wish it had been more of a traditional Southern experience, but stay tuned for more about that in my next entry!

 


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Atlanta for Dummies and Type As (Part 2)

So now that I told you where to stay and how to get around, I suppose it’s time to tell you what to do in Georgia’s Peach of a City and show you just how Type A I can be.  When I planned the trip, I actually themed the days.  Yes, call me crazy, but give me access to that little World Wide Web and a smattering of an idea, and I’m going to theme it.  For Atlanta, knowing what I knew about the City and the amount of time that I would be there, I chose 3 themes – food, history/current events and the typical sight-seer.  I’ve already covered our food walking tour, now, pull up a chair, and get comfy, because you are going to learn a little more about Atlanta’s History.

Atlanta for the History Buff

Atlanta for the history buff and media enthusiast starts in the Sweet Auburn Historic District where one of my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  started out.  This was the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and to me, at least, a must see if you are going to be in Atlanta and have any semblance of curiosity of the events of the 1960s.  Here are the must dos:

  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (Visitor’s Centre).  Start your journey by slowly walking along the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.  Everyone from Desmond Tutu to Sammy Davis, Jr. to Magic Johnson has their footprints in the walkway.  Let’s just say my feet are half the size of Magic’s and leave it at that.  Stop and take in a statue of Ghandi who inspired MLK insist on non-violent protest as the way to desegregate.   Head indoors and watch a movie that brings context to everything that you are about to see. It’s a tough watch, but so important.  Then, check out the DREAM Gallery with basically King’s entire life laid out for you and the history of the Civil Rights Movement.  This is the best exhibit in  Sweet Auburn and includes the powerful “Freedom Road” statues where you feel like you can march along side of these heroes.
  • Next, head to the Ebenezer Baptist Church where MLK’s father preached, where he was baptized and was also the launching pad of his own career as a pastor.  He returned to this church many times throughout the Civil Rights Movement and his mother was actually shot and killed at the organ in the church.  A brief movie in the basement showcases the history of the church.
  • The next stop in the neighbourhood is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.  MLK and Coretta Scott King’s Tombs are in the front of the centre in a beautiful reflection pool.  Close by is an eternal flame.  As you walk through Freedom Hall (outdoors and beautiful) – take some time to stop and look at the photos.  The museum has rooms dedicated to King’s life plus a room dedicated to to Coretta Scott King, one to Rosa Parks and another to Ghandi.  Some of the artifacts are amazing including his suitcase, cologne and his own books that he carried with him for reference.  The foyer is filled with art and the Stone of Hope.  The book selection in the gift shop, sadly isn’t great.
  • Walk to Fire Station Number 6 to learn about desegregation in the Atlanta Fire Department.  There is an old fashioned fire engine that’s worth a look.  It’s well set up, but if you are running low on time, skip this building.
  • Last, but not least, walk up a row of shotgun houses to the birthplace of MLK.  We didn’t get tickets, but I didn’t think that I was missing anything by not going in.
  • Once we finished this area, we headed downtown to take a tour of CNN.  This was by far the least interesting thing that I did in Atlanta.  I recommend trying the VIP tour to actually get behind the scenes.  The best part for me was taking the world’s longest and tallest escalator into the CNN Centre.  Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in TV for so long, but seeing a newsroom just wasn’t exciting.  You only get to see it through glass.  They also take you fake control room with a fake weather demo.  Again, not well done and our tour guide was even less enthusiastic.

Things to keep in mind if you are in Atlanta:

  • The museums and attractions close early – many by 5pm and some even earlier.  Keep that in mind if you are going to be a Type A Traveller.
  • There is a lot of walking, especially if you get lost in Sweet Auburn – wear comfy shoes and stay hydrated.  If you need restrooms, go to the Visitor’s Centre.
  • Take the Trolley rather then the MARTA if you are going downtown after Sweet Auburn – it’s only $1 and not crowded at all.
  • Get an Atlanta City Pass.  It let’s you into CNN, the Georgia Aquarium, The World of Coca Cola, Zoo Atlanta or the National Civil Rights Museum, the NCAA Football Hall of Fame or the Fernback Museum of Natural History.  It saves you money and time – you can skip the line ups for many of the attractions so it’s worth having.  I picked up mine at CNN but pre-ordered it.  Look online you can often get a deal.