Sunday, January 3, 2010

Not So Close Encounters

It's 1 degree wind-chill outside. The holiday decorations are down (those that didn't blow away). Those who trudge to work in the private sector have no holidays until...almost forever. In this brown season, it's too cold to do much so we start thinking about planning the garden (must put out more effort and do better this year) and traveling to some sunny place. We watched three "Samantha Brown's Travels" shows last night: she cruised, went riding a zip line through the rain forest in Jamaica and traipsed through Naples -- ah, the dessert course of life.
Nothing much exciting on the horizon except the new $1 movie rental kiosk at Tom's convenience store, and going to Richmond soon, where it will be almost as cold but youthful highjinks are on the agenda.
If you don't get out, nothing except appliance failure is ever going to happen. My first adventure out of the far-suburban cocoon of my youth in Richmond was when Dad arranged to take brother Ron and I on the company jet to New York. He traveled all over then, often to New York but to the Netherlands, Great Britain and Greece also, and a chance to experience a little of that was thrilling. The company apartment on the Upper East Side was three levels and looked like a ski chalet. The company sponsored the Richmond tennis tournament at the time and Arthur Ashe was the big deal. He stayed there sometimes and partied it up so hard they asked him to vacate. They were throwing out his clothes, so I took home a silk shirt and satin-lined leather pants handmade in Bangkok, but couldn't wear them because they were so small. Of course a teenage white guy would look beyond ridiculous trying to be SuperFly anyway. Strangely enough, around 1977 or 78 we interviewed Mr. Ashe in the Jefferson Hotel for Part II of the Richmond History film we were making for the Public Schools (Jon Parks was writer, director and camera; I just recorded the audio). He had a bodyguard and was very cold, formal and distant. I didn't say a word about the disco clothes.
The apartment was in the Yorktowne neighborhood, originally a German ethnic settlement. I'd never seen anything so foreign as a European ethnic neighborhood: deli's with more than one kind of mustard (I had no idea), newspapers in German, Yiddish and Polish -- going to your apartment home up an elevator, for heaven's sake! Uniformed doormen -- couldn't figure out what they were for. I really jumped when Dad returned from the deli next door and said he was behind Xavier Cugat and his too-hot wife, Abbe Lane, in line. It was possible to run into famous people, not just their images on screen or through their words in books? Who knew? We've never seen anyone at the L.A. or other California airports, but it's not uncommon in New York. If you gawk, though, a cab will run you down. Dad took us to the Playboy Club, but I didn't see Gloria Steinem who had left their employ a little while before and of course wasn't famous then. But still. The bunnies looked very uncomfortable and artificial, but paid attention to Ron and I, which wasn't bad at all.
Nancy and I sat next to comic actor Richard Kind (Spin City) and another TV actor whose name we couldn't recall, at the bar/lobby of a comedy improv club in Santa Monica once. When she was little, she got Elvis' autograph at the Graceland gates when he still did that sort of thing, and got Carl Perkins' too, much later. I walked by football player Jim Brown in New York years ago and was about to say I'd enjoyed his book, but someone else engaged him and I kept going on my way. I was surprised to see how short he is.
In the fall of 1970, while sitting on the curb in a daze at National Airport in D.C. waiting on the bus to Ft. Myer (having gotten up at 3 a.m. at Fort Knox for the flight), former Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his wife Muriel walked right by. She was wearing her famous blue, as always, and I didn't have to get up and salute because HH wasn't Vice President anymore. I did salute General Westmoreland on the Pentagon steps as I was going down and he was going up, but I don't think he noticed. Probably had weighty things on his mind. I was just glad to get out in the sunshine. Secretary of the Army Harold Brown made a tour of our area in the second basement of the Puzzle Palace one evening, and I pretended to type a telegram (bet a teenager today doesn't know what either word means) to look productive. We gave each other a polite nod, but haven't exchanged Christmas cards or anything.

1 comment:

  1. Are we "impressed" by the one's we say are important or are we just as important?
    Sometimes those "important" folks are impressed by our simple souls.
    Does it make you different to be in the company of rock stars or common friends?
    Enjoy who you are and tomorrow, plan the garden.