They’re Alive!

Herb Seedlings

“They’re alive! They’re ALIVE!” I screamed with demented scientist glee. ”Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

When I left for NYC earlier in the week, I was certain my little farmer-in-the-dell exercise of growing vegetables and herbs from seeds would be for naught. I expected to find dry plugs of dirt in the pots I’d planted, with perhaps a few withered sprouts that had reached out their little arms to the sun, like an infant for its mother, only to be cut down in their youth from parental neglect. Read more »

I, Farmer David

Burpee Seeds

I have a complicated relationship with plants. Not all plants, just vegetables. And not vegetables themselves, actually, just the growing and harvesting of them.

See, I was subjected to indentured servitude on a farm in Swansea, MA, when I was 13 years old. Momma and Poppa Leite had felt the experience would be “good for you.” Besides, what else do you do with a depressed teenager who’s not only morose but terribly anxious? Considering it was the early ‘70s, my parents had two choices: hard work or hard-core meds. (Remember, this predated the age of mixologists MDs, so the drug of choice was Mother’s Little Helper: Valium. Plus, I’d gotten ahold of a copy of Valley of the Dolls that someone had left for trash, and there was no way in hell I was going to turn into Neely O’Hara—sparkle or no sparkle.)

So for three ballbusting years, I spent my summers bent over and picking peppers, green beans, zucchini, and summer squash; stringing and popping suckers off tomato plants; and slicing cabbages from their roots with perhaps the dullest, rustiest knife ever honed by man—all the while getting redneck sunburnt, scratching my ass (never relieve yourself in the middle of a poison sumac patch), and praying for rain, a tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster. Read more »

Podcast Ep. 1: Why, Hello New Podcast

Talking With My Mouth Full

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It all began when I was about 10 years old. Whenever my parents and I visited my avó and avô (that’s Portuguese for grandmother and grandfather) and the rest of the Leite family in Somerville, MA, I’d gather my ensemble of cousins for the express purpose of staging musical spectaculars on my Aunt Irene’s back porch. I was the director, naturally, and my word was law. (Oh, how little things have changed, I can hear Renee thinking.) [Editor's Note: Yup. Precisely.] One show in particular featured an all-Beatles lineup in which I directed my distant cousin Elaine to slowly walk down the porch stairs as she sang “Let It Be.” (This was also the era of Cher, hence the many long, slow stair descents and excessive hair flipping in my directives.) I made her do this over and over again until, frustrated, I climbed to the top of the stairs and did my own descent. Never was a David Leite spectacular more spectacular.

A little later, I discovered The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. How many times did I dream that I was the seventh Brady kid (in between Greg and Peter) and had my own solo in the finale of each show? And how can I express to you just how achingly desperate I was to have one of those synthetic, powder blue jumpsuits? Read more »

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