Hair of the Dogs

The List

For decades my favorite film has been “Manhattan” and I don’t care what a louse Woody Allen is in real life; most of my favorite authors have been louses too (Exhibit A: Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky). I love everything about that movie: the black and white, the trifecta of beauty that is Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, the Gershwin soundtrack, the portrayal of a writer distracted by everything and that wonderful moment near the end where Isaac Davis, the character played by Allen, records a list of things that make life worth living.  Trying to sort out ideas for a short story he wants to write, he speaks into an old-school tape recorder that looked retro the first time I saw the film but looks ancient now.  The beginning of the list is predictible for him, and for his viewers (Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, Swedish movies).  Then things start to surface: Louis Armstrong’s recording of Potatohead Blues, “those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne.”  Then he surprises himself by saying “Tracy’s face.”  The face of a girl he wanted to be rid of, whose heart he broke.  It’s a moment of revelation born out of his writing process.  Moments later he’s running through the streets of Manhattan to Tracy’s apartment, and what great Gershwin tune plays in the background?  They’re writing songs of love, but not for me. . .

Of course he and Tracy are doomed; Gershwin says so.  But that never dims my pleasure in watching Isaac realize that Tracy’s face is an essential ingredient in life.

Make your list.  Go ahead.  And I’ll make mine.


  1. bill dameron says:

    This here is a wonderful post and you have inspired me Louise. I am not a list maker, Paul is. If you don’t mind, I’m going to borrow this theme?

  2. Believe it or not, I haven’t seen that movie. Crazy, I know. My list is very short. My kids. There are other things too, obvs, but they are the most obvious

  3. Things that make life worth living? For me, it’s weekends like this one where my entire family (parents, sisters, brothers-in-law) are all in the same place at the same time, french fries, and spicy fall days. There are certainly more, but those are the first that come to mind. Would love to hear what’s on your list!

    • Samantha, love your list! Me? My family, my dogs, St. Pierre tomatoes, Sonny Rollins and especially the time I heard him play “My One and Only Love” here in Austin, oh and Austin, love Austin forever, and Bruce a thousand times over. Chocolate. Black-eyed pea soup. Coffee, drinking it alone. Sarah Vaughan when she hits the low notes. This short story by James Salter called “Twenty Minutes.” Honeycrisp apples. And baseball.

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