I've been reading Nora Ephron essays long before she was ever a movie director. I appreciated her witty and wry personality, but mostly I saw in her a fellow New Yorker. Even though she was raised in California, Nora was born in NYC and clearly had "city blood."
New Yorkers can spot each other from across the room and I had only to read a couple of essays to know that Nora Ephron was one of us. It was the way she put things. Someone at Ms. magazine once wrote that Nora had "a brilliant, restless mind." Exactly!
Nora was funny, sharp and possessed possibly that most representative New York trait -- she was sardonic. She once wrote that for writers "every English muffin bristles with the possibility of inspiring 850 words." Is it surprising that she later became a blogger?
It was only later when I read her best-seller I Feel Bad About My Neck (I always joke that I'm the only male who's ever read this female-oriented book cover to cover) that I became aware Nora lived for years in that crazy west side apartment house The Apthorp. The fabulous apartment building is an architectural gem but its landlord-tenant problems are the stuff of legends and Nora and her family were right there in the middle of it. Like a lot New Yorkers, she knew what it was to struggle with her housing situation until she famously gave up and moved to the East Side.
But she and her husband writer Nick Pileggi (a former newspaperman who is a sweetheart) raised their kids in The Apthorp and those kids attended the city's private schools. I saw her son, journalist Jacob, interview his mother a few years ago at Dalton, his alma mater.
Nora's film When Harry Met Sally exudes the New York ethos and I doubt another filmmaker could have come close to capturing it as she did. I would bet money that Nora had been in Katz' deli -- where the climactic scene of Meg Ryan faking an orgasm was shot -- many many times and didn't need a location scout to tell her to shoot there. Ditto for You've Got Mail which was shot practically around the corner from The Apthorp.
Like Woody Allen, Nora Ephron was one of us and New Yorkers everywhere should be mourning her loss.