Just kidding, of course. This ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ Meme can’t help but contain a small portion of competitive spirit. And I never particularly needed party-games/ice-breakers to help me meet anonymous party-go-ers. Just wanted to mention that, not that it comes with points.
Sooo… Seven things you’d never have guessed were true about moi?
1) Seems I have this uncanny resemblance to Lee Marvin to worry about. Can’t really remember a month going by without at least one perfect stranger tellin’ me “You look like that actor, whas-is name?” Last time I flew to the States, not only did the Israeli cab-driver mention it, (the first word out of his mouth), but, upon returning and going through passport-control at BGN, even the steely-eyed girl in the bullet-proof booth, after stamping my US and Israeli documents, said, against all strictures prohibiting ‘human’ interaction: “OMG, you look so much like Lee Marvin!” Ok, my dad look(-ed) even more like the guy. At his memorial, where I wore his favorite down jacket which he’d lent me a few days before his passing, at least a dozen attendees collared me to say: “God, you look and sound so much like your Dad.” And then they added, quietly as the occasion demanded, “oh..and like Lee Marvin.” In Jaffa, when I was running the restoration project for the city, my street name was ‘Mista Marvin’ Hard to believe how many Israelis apparently followed the guy’s career. Ok, enough. Not my fault, or my credit.
2) Me and Maria: Here’s where it gets a bit more personal. I’m not even sure why I was on Fort Hill in Roxbury/Boston in the summer of ’69. I’d swallowed enough Owsley to bring down a Trojan Horse plus all the men hiding in its guts. Driving some little car I must have bought (brown? maroon? $50?), I somehow got there, that much I remember. It was probably connected to the Avatar, an underground paper of those days, and Mel Lyman. Anyway, I struck up a disjointed conversation with the sweetest girl one could imagine, Maria, wearing the red bandana you see in the (B&W?) photo below. How I didn’t recognize her is beyond me to this day. Together we searched for my ‘lost’ car for maybe three hours, hand-in-hand, then arm-in-arm, then almost to the point of ‘get a room’. Never found it. She needed to get back, she said. ‘Jeff-somebody’ will worry. We parted, and I slept in some abandoned backyard, then walked most of the way down to Tremont St, which I luckily remembered was where I lived, the next morning, after the hallucinations moderated a bit.
A year or so later I saw her performing in a coffeehouse in the Village somewhere. Mid-song, she smiled at me slyly and made a cute hand gesture, kinda pointing in several directions then palm upward, meaning: “So, where the f*ck do we look next for your car?” I blew a quick discrete kiss, and that’s the end of the story. What a doll. and Who’s ‘Jeff’, anyway?
3) This one’s shorter. Fred Rodgers made a pass at me. At least that’s what it felt like on the narrow piano bench. I excused myself, lying that I had to go over the run-down sheet for the show; air-time, (live in those days) was in 10 minutes. Now maybe his ‘comfort-zone was less spacious than mine, or maybe he thought I was kinda cute. We’ll never know. I do remember playing ‘Girls are fancy on the inside..’ behind him with a new perspective. Off-camera, (you got used to watching the red-lights and their status, I stuck out my tongue. The switcher in the
control-booth told me later that he’d toyed with editing it into the re-run mix-down, but he liked his job…
4) Speaking of ‘two on a bench’, Duke Ellington can sit as close as he damn well pleases. I was
just noodling around on the Steinway before a show he was (obviously) headlining, making up some generic blues thing and getting ready for my opener set.. ‘I didn’t see him enter, but my
nostrils flared at the smell of his perfume: ‘Stompin’ Savoy‘? Only one codger in PA sensitive enough to wear that scent… and I had to find out ‘Who he was?’. (Sorry, made that part up.)
Anyway, he just sat down, flipped the bunch of music-staff sheets he was carrying onto the piano and started to ‘add’ the right hand to my chords. We enjoyed ourselves for about ten minutes. Sporting a greased pony-tail, he told me when I asked that he pretty much ‘made tunes’ around the clock’, as the hurriedly jotted notes on his papers proved. I’ll never know what song he was in the process-of that day. Later, the organist for his ensemble, Wild Bill Davis made me quietly feel like a child who’d just mastered ‘Chopsticks’ in ‘C’. What a monster. Practice, Johnny.
5) Almost every performer I’ve met for any length of time seemed to posses an over-flowing quality one can only try for years to copy. I’m speaking of their surprisingly patient and apt attention-giving, as if you are the most fascinating human they’ve ever encountered. Back in the days when ‘stars’ were tons more accessible, the ‘relating as equals’ aspect simply floored me. Joan Baez, appearing out of the blue at an Allenwood Penitentiary rally in ’69(?) when I was leading protest songs on guitar, just walked up, put one hand around a second mike, the other on my shoulder, and whispered in my ear ‘Carry it on’. Now I remembered she sang it in ‘D’, and started the lead-in in straight (EADGBE) tuning. She turned and made a motion with her left hand, as if turning a peg counterclockwise. and verily, a few seconds later my low ‘E’ was now a proper low ‘D’. Shorter than I’d imagined, she sang with a voice which came from every cell of her body. Didn’t have much time to talk later; there was a War to end, but there were some photos in the paper, both of us short-haired, her by choice and me having cut mine in an effort to sway the trial judge in a Buffalo, NY case where I was up on destruction of gov’t property.
6) No shortage of stories, but let’s pause the celebs and talk about me like,’getting dead’.In a fair world (hi, OBL) I’d be dead about 12 times over by now. Plane crashes, car wrecks, ‘Oh God help me’ falls from high places, falling objects missing me by millimeters, hard to know where to start. Ok, start with Agnes, the great flood/hurricane. Lots of damage, trees down. I spent weeks with a chain saw cleaning up for customers. One day I decided I liked the smell of evergreen branches so much that I really ought to take ’em home with me and fill the house. Why not? And yeah, that idea saved my life. Driving down the Buck Hill, steep as it is long, in my ’64 VW window-van, a pickup in front of me signalled right but turned left suddenly. I never had a chance. The van rolled over sideways, followed by acrobatics in all three possible spin-modes; end-over-end, cartwheel, leap-frog over concrete walls, the eye-witnesses must have been both thrilled and aghast. I hope not disappointed when I emerged through the sun-roof with only a couple gashes and bruises. Why I survived? The damn branches had transformed the van’s interior into something resembling the barrels used to go over Niagara Falls. I almost enjoyed the ride.
Since that show, most of my later accidents happened while I slept, unfortunately. Crashed into the lucky beginning of a guard-rail section on the NJ Turnpike in the Volvo P-1800 I’d bought (from a Xangan). Wasn’t her fault of course. Or mine, exactly. It was that soporific music on some NYC radio station at 4:30 AM. Don’t they know better than to play that stuff when all-nighters like me are groggy?
I’ll leave the rest of my free 9-lives stories till later.
7) Finally. Almost done here. Just need to elegantly retrieve my bicycle from where I laid it, in a nice clearing in our local ‘forest’ while I investigated some wild animal I thought I saw. Only problem: some guy in his dumb Subaru decides to park almost on top of it while he and his rented partner engage in some of the fake-iest love-less sex I’ve ever had to watch and wait for the exciting conclusion of. He apparently had an erectile difficulty; she, already fearing that he
might want his money back, did everything in the book to pretend that the ground was moving for her. Probably an hour I crouched unseen in the undergrowth as darkness fell. In the end, just when I figured I’d soon have my wheels back, he did start arguing about the price. She done her best, in heavily-accented Russian/Hebrew, but compromised on 100 shekels. Then the jerk drove off without her. My heart fell as I watched her pee, high-heels, trench-coat, and her bra at her waist. Out of respect (for her performance?) I let her walk a good way down the lane toward town before I picked up my bike, wishing I had a seat on the rear. And that’s the seventh dwarf, folks.