Sue Greenberg and the Reader

Fifth and Laurel, Judith Moore as editor, sister, father

My visits to Moe’s grave site are a solitary ritual reserved for anniversaries and birthdays.
  • My visits to Moe’s grave site are a solitary ritual reserved for anniversaries and birthdays.

How Greenberg came to the Reader:

I was already working for another San Diego publication when I took the 10-hour-a-week typesetting gig in the Reader’s ad department on Saturdays. When anyone asked about my day job, all chatterboxing stopped. The monthly I wrote for, a vanity effort that wouldn’t last a year, wasn’t even up to “community paper” standards. No one had heard of it, much less read it, and I wasn’t telling. But nothing tempts a bored weekend staff like teasing out a part-timer’s hidden life.

“Advice Columnist?”

“What about Librarian?”

“Nah, she never shuts up,” said the grizzled bully who would hold that view for the next 15 years.

A space opened up in proofreading and I got the job full-time. Someone finally figured out where I’d worked, but by then the Saturday crew had moved on. Besides, I was in editorial now. That changed everything.

Greenberg's favorite stories she wrote for the Reader:

  • Mean Girls

  • "TELL US! Do...you...think...you're pretty?" "Uh...uh...uh...I don't know!" Their squeals upend like soda, pop and fizzing. "Well WE don't! We think you're a DOG!" (Sept. 8, 2005)

She hung up the phone without saying goodbye.

She hung up the phone without saying goodbye.

  • More Blood, More Pus, More Mucus

  • "None of this PR crap anymore. It's a bad habit, and I'll be the one to break you of it, by God. Stop watching that loathsome thirtysomething and read a book." Deemed undereducated and functionally illiterate, I was to begin "at once" my supplementary education. "You might as well start at the beginning of the alphabet," she sighed. "Jane Austen will hold your interest. She talks about clothes and class." (Years later, when I mentioned reading Proust -- proud to be well into the ps -- she dismissed it as "decorative" and hung up the phone without saying good-bye.) (Aug. 16, 2007)
  • Dragon’s Blood Sangria at Laurel

  • When I met Angela at Fifth and Laurel last summer, she had to drag me out of my daze over the decor — the houndstooth dining chairs, the arabesque black-and-white florals, but especially: those chartreuse banquettes! That silken fabric! “Can’t you just see it?” I shriek. “A fabulous suit!” (April 22, 2009)

Young Sue and Donna. "Did I tell you we saw them filming Streets of San Francisco? God, I almost died! Michael Douglas is so cute! I actually got a picture of him."

Young Sue and Donna. "Did I tell you we saw them filming Streets of San Francisco? God, I almost died! Michael Douglas is so cute! I actually got a picture of him."

  • The Summer Diet of Donna Delicious

  • He lived in the city’s “old money” neighborhood and went to a private prep school. He drove a Lotus, wore hats, and listened to Sly and the Family Stone, my sister’s (and thus my) introduction to soul music. He drove 50 miles one way to our house every weekend that summer, arriving at the door with a corsage for her, a boutonniere for himself. The date included a stop at the Conga Room, the Starlight Roof, or the Top of the Mark, where they ordered daiquiris and mai tais. I don’t know how they got served, at 15 and 17, but they did; she has the cocktail napkins to prove it. (Aug. 18, 1994)
  • Moe Greenberg Can Still Make Me Cry

  • When we were all in his house, sitting at his table — children closest, wife farthest away — Moe held court at family dinners: Thanksgiving, Passover, summer barbecues, birthday parties. When he told his jokes and charmed our friends with his stories, we beamed. At least four of us did. Not being his child relegated my mother to outsider status. She was neither as smart as we were, according to Moe, nor as besotted. (Oct. 9, 1997)

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