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Author: Elliot Tiber
Title: Palm Trees on the Hudson: A True Story of The Mob, Judy Garland & Interior Decorating
Publisher: Square One Publishers
“‘Baby, let me tell you about home,’” quips Judy Garland, Elliot’s spiritual mentor and a long-standing icon of the gay rights movement in America. “‘Home is whatever’s in your suitcase and wherever you hang your hat. Contrary to the movie [i.e. The Wizard of Oz], it ain’t in Kansas. Home is wherever you want it to be.” Only later does the true meaning of these words come home to Elliot, whose exceptionally well-written memoir, Palm Trees on the Hudson, tells of the lead-up to, and the crash back down after, a birthday bash for a member of the Mob that he arranges on board a dayliner on the Hudson, at which Judy is the chief draw card.
In this rags-to-riches-and-back-again riveter, Elliot tells of his triumph over the endless carping and discouragement of his mother, by means of his working his way up from the position of what was little more than a window-dresser to being one of the leading interior decorators and designers in New York City. The emotional upheavals of his life take the backstage to a focus on the development of his career from working as a relatively low-paid employee for a city store to where he owns his own highly successful business, only to have that come toppling down when his main client pulls out from paying him a dime for what he regarded as the crowning point of his career. Back at home base, he is forced to rethink the reasons behind the demise of his going concern, and, despite, or perhaps because of, the negative impact of his mother’s ongoing criticism, he at last is able to appreciate the full meaning of Garland’s words.
Elliot’s constant longing for a soul mate is still left unfulfilled at the end of this work, only to be realized in his later work, but the pivotal relationships of his early life and burgeoning career are fully explored. The importance of friendship and family are fully expressed in the closeness that he feels to his younger sister and the gratitude that he shows to supportive clients. The humor that prevails throughout Palm Trees on the Hudson makes this both an entertaining and an enlightening text. The soul-searching to which Elliot subjects himself makes this a particularly worthwhile text for all of those interested in, and affected by, the gay lifestyle.
Elliot Tiber has both written and produced numerous award-winning plays, musical comedies, television shows, and films. As a professor of comedy writing and performance, he has taught at the New School University and Hunter College in Manhattan. Palm Trees on the Hudson: A True Story of The Mob, Judy Garland & Interior Decorating is the exceptionally entertaining prequel to his bestselling memoir Taking Woodstock, which is now an acclaimed motion picture from director Ang Lee.
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