Banter Bites

"West Side Story" Was Almost "East Side Story"?

To quote the lyrics from "West Side Story," “Could be … who knows …”

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, the theater major and lover of Broadway musicals, has loved "West Side Story" for as long as she can remember, so imagine her surprise when Black, usually only interested in the business aspects of the entertainment world, shared a “new” fact (at least, new to Red) about one of the most popular musicals ever produced.


For Red, "West Side Story" comes close to being a perfect musical (as a theater major, she doesn’t think there’s such a thing as a “perfect” musical), combining a brilliant musical score and incredibly poignant and powerful lyrics with groundbreaking choreography. And although she didn’t see it on Broadway, the original movie and the recent remake had iconic cinematography and extraordinary performances. Especially by Rita Moreno, who appeared in both movies and was an executive producer on the remake.

But like most people, Red never thought much about the backstory, as she always accepted that it was a modern day “Romeo and Juliet” about forbidden love based on people’s backgrounds, made more extreme by constant feuding between the sides, resulting in violence and death. With the final heartbreaking scene being a painful realization that it took death to find a way to reconcile their differences.

Black believes we can look at today’s newspapers (or even history books) and easily recast the story, which is exactly what happened,

Originally, the characters were envisioned as a Jewish girl and an Italian Catholic boy, with the story taking place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the Easter-Passover season. But when the Chicano American street riots in Los Angeles became headline news, it changed everything, and turned the storyline into a classic that has stood the test of time.

Although this was the first Red had heard of the original storyline, it made her smile as it brought back a recent memory,

When I first saw that clever and captivating “West Side Story Chanukah” video, I was amused. But now it makes me wonder … were the creators intentionally coming full circle?

Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.

For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There's so much one can say about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968, and whose leadership was fundamental to the ending of legal segregation in many parts of the United States. But regardless of your position on segregation, it's almost impossible not to acknowledge, yet alone appreciate, how incredibly powerful and inspiring his words were and the impact they continue to have on the civil rights movement. But don't believe us. This goodreads post provides more than just a good read, it's a seemingly endless list of inspirational quotes while a great "refresher" course on Dr. King is available at History.com.

We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?

National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.

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Another year and another National Clean Your Desk Day (yes, that’s actually a thing). So, is Red’s desk any better than the “disaster” it was last year? Well, believe it or not, it may not be perfect, but it’s significantly better. Is it because she finally listened to Black’s advice (see below) or somehow found a “secret” of her own? As it turns out, it was a combination of the two as Red discovered, even if the rest of her life isn’t “nice and neat” (that’ll never happen), she loves walking into her workroom in the morning and starting the day in a (somewhat) organized space, which provides the best motivation for keeping it that way. (Luckily, Black never brought up the science of messy desks.)

A day to clean up your desk?! It will take way more than a day …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: No one is immune from piles of paper, not even Black, the master of organization, but there’s a huge difference between a desk with a few small piles and some scattered papers (although her laptop’s keyboard needs serious cleaning) and Red’s “workroom” that usually looks like a tornado hit it.

Which is why Red rolled her eyes when Black mentioned today’s National Clean Your Desk Day, as it’d take her significantly more than a day to “clean up this mess,” but then she remembered Black’s advice on how to keep her piles (and piles) of paper under control and felt inspired. Red admits often feeling like she’s drowning in paper, but that’s because she lets the piles get out of control before reminding herself of Black’s very easy, straightforward approach to turning her mountains of paper into small manageable hills. And, significantly reducing stress along the way, because as Black points out,

Sometimes, it is more important to know what you are ignoring than it is to deal with everything in the piles.