Archive for January, 2013


Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By Mary Duggan


Wednesday, 10 AM: Annie and our friend Ron unload the “Duggan Sister Experience” onto the dock at the Merchandise Mart and then head to the 8th floor to find our booth and get our badges for the Beckman’s Handcrafted section within the Chicago Market. All Annie wants to do is race home to her Joey. She has been up all night encouraging Joey to breathe, please breathe, and eat, please eat.



Thursday, 12 noon: Annie and Mary and Clare stand around a metal examining table at LaPar Animal Hospital, watching and weeping as the vet puts our enchanting little Ragdoll cat and guardian of almost 15 years to sleep. Joey gone – from sickness to death in less than 10 days. Some three weeks after losing our beloved Tabby, Seamus, Joey’s best friend and champion of many years. We ache with grief.



Thursday, 1 PM: We go home, clean Joey’s litter box for the last time, throw all of Annie’s urine-stained bedding in the washer (I think Joey must have done this when I was loading her into the carrier) and then stare at the phone numb and waiting for the vet to call with the autopsy results. A physician, stunned and saddened, wondering what went wrong, has offered a free autopsy and biopsies. An autopsy: unthinkable and unimaginable just a few days ago, but now somehow necessary for all of us to heal.


Thursday, 2 PM: Joey has been gone from our lives for 2 hours and we are discussing the shocking results of her autopsy. We have survived part one, the information from the autopsy, and now we begin the ten day wait for the biopsies to provide I don’t know what. There are new images that we do not want to think about. Is this all part of that concept everyone calls closure?


Thursday, 3 PM: Annie sets down the phone, looks across the table at me and says I have to work or I will lose my mind. So we go to the Merchandise Mart and set up our booth and never stop working until today, some six days later.


Beckman’s: Post-Mortem

We are so tired that we’re nauseous. That is what a show, wholesale or retail, does to every single artist every single time. You assemble a singular and stunning booth showcasing your wares. You stand and explain and educate and sell and endure insults and ignorance and accolades. You do it indoors under lights too bright with unforgiving concrete beneath you. You do it outdoors in wind that sometimes becomes a microburst or a tornado and you stand shivering in snow in early October and you get rained on until you are soaked to your kneecaps. You sometimes sell big and sometimes hardly get noticed in the crowd. And then you disassemble your perfect booth and pack it into a van and drive to your home which might be across town or across many state lines. You are an artist. These shows are absolute bread and butter essential and they kill you every time.


They also do something else; especially when you are hurting so badly that your breath is very shallow from the pain in your chest. Artists create beauty and wonderful ragtag community. Community and beauty are the one two punch that heals if you can keep your broken heart open just enough to let the light in. (more…)


Iranian Scientist Talks Sense: Meet Mr. Darvish

Monday, January 14th, 2013


By Mary Duggan

Mohammad Darvish: what a lovely, gentle, enlightened Iranian. I’d like to meet him. I know, I know, you are sick of hearing that day in and day out. Sick of all the hype about all the wonderful Iranians we should be getting to know better. But seriously, really seriously, wouldn’t it be wonderful to start knowing each other as fellow citizens of planet earth? Why are such a small number of characters allowed a place on the world stage? I think there are so many interesting people to meet and stories to hear, especially folks from countries that we think are so completely different from ours, so foreign to us in the truest sense of the word. I think knowing these people and their stories is what would actually make the world a better place in which to live, a less scary place for sure. Isn’t that why they tell us we need all these nuclear weapons? To protect our place in this scary world we live in? Isn’t that what Iranians are being told as well? Why not build bridges instead of bombs; bridges to one another?

Turns out the ’60s really were about flower power.

A few days ago I encountered a lovely, encouraging article in the news about Mohammad Darvish, a botanist and environmental activist in Iran. I’d love to spend some time with him; just one tree hugger to another, swapping stories and dreams. I’d like to walk in the herbarium where he works. It was built as a joint effort in the 1960s by botanists from our two countries. We could listen to waterfalls and experience microclimates. I’d like to swap vegetarian recipes and discuss Persian poetry and tell him about the Iranian centered years of my own strange life.

Ahmadinejad and Kardashian are getting too much air time.

Okay, okay I know I’d end up telling him about our little deodorant company, as well. For sure I’d give him a sample and I’d wager he’d love it being botanically based and named lifestinks. And I would give it to him so he would know about the work we three sisters are doing to make our planet a less toxic place. Because just as I’d like to know an Iranian other than Ahmadinejad, I’m sure he’d like to know an American not named Kardashian. Darvish and Duggan are altogether simpler names to spell and pronounce and remember. I’d like to think our efforts matter more to both of our countries and our shared planet.

Mohammad Darvish is a crusader deserving of our attention. Until we can see him chatting with Bill Moyers, this lovely article will have to suffice. Let’s take the time to acknowledge the heroic in our midst. Let’s shine a light on really interesting people living really substantial lives. I think it’s fun and healing. At least it will make Kim’s pregnancy pass a little more quickly for all of us.


About the author:

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks.  We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.



TV Stinks: Baby Mama Drama

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Not all toxins come in through bad food or polluted air and water. They can come in electronically, as well. As a culture, we have to address the audio-visual toxicity we are being subjected to daily. Food used to be better. TV used to be better too. We need to clean it all up.


By Mary Duggan

I just want to watch TV without despairing.

Okay, I’m reaching across the political aisle once again with a hug for John Kass. I frequently disagree with the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass, but emotionally I often connect with him, especially his annual holiday piece.  I think I would really enjoy being his neighbor, especially when his grill is fired up. Today though JK was fired up on an issue where he and I are in whole-hearted agreement. All my babies’ mamas, REALLY Oxygen? Really? We want to go here? Can’t we draw the line at abysmal with Honey Boo Boo?


Rapper Shawty Lo in an image from “All My Babies’ Mamas” from YouTube. (January 2, 2013)


Where have you gone David Susskind?

When I was a kid, and I am aging myself here, TV was kind of wonderful. For me that wonderful was personified by a publicist, turned talent agent, turned producer named David Susskind. Also well known as a talk show host, Susskind exposed me to the most wonderful dramas. I have never fully recovered from of Mice and Men (1968) with a young George Segal. Tragically I understand that this was made on videotape and did not survive. Segal also captivated me that same year in The Desperate Hours, again the work of David Susskind. I remember my older sister walking in on me, an eigth-grader, watching Mia Farrow and Ian Bannen in 1967’s Johnny Belinda. OMG, you are way too young for this, she screeched with her 8 years older than me righteousness. Luckily she gave up her indignation quickly and I had a TV experience I have never forgotten. Thanks to David Susskind. I miss, really miss that kind of TV. Sometimes on HBO I come close to it; but I have to really look and look hard.


Teachers assigned TV shows as homework. Really.

Progressive teachers in the 1960s were actually assigning some of these shows to their students as homework.  TV did not plant the seed for me to become a writer, the Bronte sisters had already done that; but it nurtured that seed. With these homework assignments exciting and inspiring teachers were making me aware that writers were the reason for the TV season. And that provided me with a wonderful goal; it captured my imagination that words mattered and my stories could be read and even dramatized. The inspiration was never to become a celebrity, or reality TV star, but a legitimate writer with a voice that mattered and stories worth the telling. That is the critical part in all of this. TV taught me lots about being a human being; it was edifying and inspirational and thought-provoking even though Bewitched was a big hit.


I experience some of that feeling now when I watch the work of Aaron Sorkin.

A screw up at WOW, our cable provider, earned us an apology in the form of okay we’ll add HBO to your package. First time ever access to HBO for any of us combined with a holiday break that actually was all about being exhausted, then sick and then grief-stricken over the death of a much-loved pet. As the strength to sit under an afghan and a remote at the same time returned we dove into the first season of The Newsroom and loved it. One episode a day for ten days of stand and cheer TV. Thank you, Aaron Sorkin and HBO.


Django Unchained, maybe. Shawty Lo, no way.

I’ve been culturally wrestling in recent days with seeing my first Quentin Tarentino film. Descriptions of violence have kept me from all of his previous films. But the debate over the worthiness of his latest film, Django Unchained, has me curious; though my reluctance will probably win out. I always try to withhold my viewing dollars from violent films. I am careful about my spending. Dollars have powerful voices. This year I spent my holiday dollars on Lincoln and I have no regrets.

In his thought provoking commentary in today’s Chicago Tribune Clarence Page references Abraham Lincoln while reflecting on the baby mama drama. “Lincoln Freed us for this?”  Surely not. But with David Susskind likely turning over in his grave, and Aaron Sorkin already spoken for, who is going to step into the abyss and get Honey Boo Boo to a nutritionist and Shawty Lo in for a vasectomy? Who is going to save TV? And will I be alive for that emancipation? Where are schoolteachers directing young folks these days?  I can only imagine.