The rich man can ride, and the hobo, he can drown

And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow
In New York City

Another reason I’ve been kind of sad lately is that I just finished watching Feud: Bette and Joan. It didn’t make me sad because it was bad, it made me sad because it was so goddang GOOD! If you are an old-school Hollywood fan, and you ask yourself what could possibly be better than Whatever Happened to Baby Jane… how about a show about making that movie, with Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis? I KNOW! And then the last few episodes were also about the making of – just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. I KNOW! Two of Bette Davis’s *craziest* rolls, amiright?!

Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And I thank the Lord
There’s people out there like you
I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you

What made me sad is that there they were; two accomplished, strong, beautiful, willful women who knew their own minds and made their own business decisions, were both single mothers, and together they could have changed the fucking world – instead, they were pitted against each other, driven apart by misogyny and ageism and fear for the future (and regret of the past).

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light

Lange played Crawford sympathetically; afraid of aging and deeply lonely… and Sarandon played Davis proudly; defiant and giving zero fucks, until you saw that she really did give. They both did.

This Broadway’s got
It’s got a lot of songs to sing
If I knew the tunes I might join in
I’ll go my way alone
Grow my own, my own seeds shall be sown, in New York City

The two scenes that broke my heart the most were in the very last episode. Davis learns that Crawford has cancer and hasn’t left her apartment in months, and she calls her at, like, one in the morning. Crawford answers, but Davis is too… afraid to speak? confused? doesn’t know why she’s called? The look of pain on Sarandon/Davis’s face as she sat at the phone, unable to say anything, until Lange/Crawford hung up the phone? Beautiful. The other is that Crawford hallucinates a table of her old frenimies, and they sit around, finally being open and honest with each other. Finally had the moment of friendship they’d never had, and to see what they could have been together….? Heartbreaking.

Subway’s no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found

I thought that I had lost out in my early life, not having any close female friends until after I got out of high school. Oh, I had pals, but none that I was open-hearted with until I met Quinn when I was about 18. 17? Was that the WorldCon in 88? If so, I was 18 going on 19. Since then I have made many deep, enriching friendships. Jenn. Sharon. Jag. Y’all know who all y’all are, my hearts sisters.

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light

But my youth spent missing out on the wellspring that comes from good girlfriends is nothing compared to the emptiness of never having them at all, and reaching the end of your life and wondering what you’ve missed out on. I am still not 100% sure why, but seeing how lonely these two admirable women may have actually been in real life just really put an arrow in my chest. And I feel deeply, profoundly lucky to have such an amazing weave of women in my life.

And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow
In New York City

And I think that’s why I have such a visceral pull-back when I’m in a business group that turns to the discussion of crushing the competition. The competition is just like me. The competition is a one-person show, doing it all herself (or himself, or itself, I shouldn’t assume). I shouldn’t try to *crush* them. I should reach a hand out. We should be banding together, helping, working together for a better future for all of us, because high tide raises ALL ships. We are stronger together; as business owners, as women, as friends.

Subway’s no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found
– Bernie Taupin and Elton John

2 comments

  1. This was beautiful. I’m not quite the fan of old Hollywood, although there are many of the movies I love. But you are spot on about women were typically pit against one another, unless they were family.

    At the conference I was at this past week, I mostly met women, who were mainly from different firms. They each spoke about how it was important to help one another, and that it didn’t matter who you worked for, becoming better at your job was the most important thing.

    I am still amazed by that.

    • I love that you had that experience. We make our lives richer by opening ourselves up and by giving of ourselves, and I love that you met women in a field that – at least in media – would be portrayed as, at best, stand-offish, and at worst, antagonistic and spiteful… and instead found them to be open and supportive. And of COURSE they recognized how amazing you are! I mean, DUH! Have you ever MET you?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *