Posts Tagged ‘Paul Krich’

Letter From New York 01 20 2016 May we all succeed…

January 21, 2016

Today was a long day.  It was my first day of class and it reminded me of how much work teaching is and how much work I will have to do to prepare for each class.

Class was dismissed early because I had to drive down to Livingston, NJ for my friend Paul’s Memorial Service.  I dismissed class at 11:45 and made it to Livingston, NJ at 1:58.  The service started at 2:00.

I was the fourth person to speak.  It was hard for me to make it through.  The sense of loss caught in my throat though I did not break down but it was all that I could do not to.

That was true of almost everyone who spoke.  The last speaker was his mother, now 105.

His grandson Daniel was riven by grief, hard to see, hard to bear.  When I arrived, his daughter hugged me and said, “You had fun, you two.”  And we did.

As I drove down, I listened to the radio, always attempting to find a station to listen to that could be picked up.  It was hard.  I heard about the stock market plunge and there was naught that I could do about it driving down New York 87.  The market dive seems to be driven by the fall of oil prices.  One commentator said that the markets weren’t factoring in the good that might come of lower oil prices.

With sanctions being lifted on Iran, it is about to start selling its oil which will further depress prices.  It is going to be a wicked winter, I fear.

I had thought to drive from Livingston, NJ into the city and spend the night but had decided against it as there is a storm brewing which could make driving tough as early as Friday.  So I came home and will train in tomorrow morning for some meetings and a dinner with an old friend, Jerry May.

He and I have known each other for thirty-two years, having met when we were young, in advertising.  I was at his 30th birthday party, having helped planned the surprise party that night.

He lived in San Francisco then and was my client when I was at A&E.  Now he lives in Seattle, at a new agency.  His now wife, Gail, lured me to Seattle on the pretext she was throwing a big birthday party for Jerry.

They punked us.  They threw a surprise wedding for themselves.  I was so pleased that across the years Jerry would want me at his wedding.  We had seen each other little but had remained in contact through LinkedIn and I looked him up when I passed through Seattle on one of my train journeys.

People make the fabric of our lives.  Riches come and go.  But it is the people we touch that really, really, really matter. 

For Paul’s Memorial Card, his daughter Karen chose a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I pass it on tonight to you.

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or a reformed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.”

Paul’s grandson concluded his speech with saying his grandfather had succeeded.  He had made Daniel’s life breathe easier.  He made many peoples live breathe easier, mine included.

May we all succeed.

Letter From New York 01 18 2016 Hotel California to present day travails….

January 19, 2016

Minnesota Los Angeles Fred Pinkard Rocky II Ron Bernstein Adagio Nik Buian The Eagles Glenn Frey  Hotel California Paul Krich David Bowie Donald Trump British Parliament about Trump Martin Luther King Day JFK RFK Nazis Genocide

In the long ago and far away, I left Minnesota and ended up in Los Angeles.  Volunteering at a theater as an usher, I met Fred Pinkard, an African American actor who guest starred in television shows and was in Rocky II; never famous but almost always working. 

I needed work and he put me together with Ron Bernstein who owned Adagio, a little “Cafe California” kind of restaurant down the street from Paramount.  As a favor to Fred, Ron hired me.  I was not good.  I was actually going to be fired.  I could feel it. 

Staying up half the night one night, I kept thinking about it and worked out a system.  The next day everyone on the staff gathered round me at the end of my shift and asked:  what happened?  I had worked out a system.  I went from being the worst to the best.  

Late at night after all the customers had left, Nik Buian, the manager and I, would crank up the music system and pull out all the bottles of wine that had been left behind with something in them.  We’d drink them, talk about life and fold napkins for the next day, sometimes to four in the morning.

We’d listen to The Eagles non-stop.  They were his favorite and I can never hear “Hotel California” without thinking of those nights with Nik, folding napkins, learning about wines and sharing good times with a good friend.

Eagles founder Glenn Frey died today at 67.  Not much older than I am. 

I am surrounded by mortality this week.  Wednesday I will be giving a eulogy for my friend Paul, much of it written but in need of a bit of burnishing.  My friend Paul, David Bowie, Glenn Frey and I now find I am at the time of my life when friends are beginning to go and it is sobering.

Life is sobering.  As I am sitting in my dining room the world is full of all kinds of travails. I know that and am frustrated because I can do so little to change any of it.

This morning I had a conversation with an old work friend who confessed to me how scared he is about this coming election.  No one appeals to him; they all frighten him and he will vote based on which one frightens him less.

This is not good. It seems worse than the choice between the lesser of two evils.

Extraordinarily there was a debate in Parliament today about whether to ban Donald Trump from the UK because of “hate speech.”  Now it is the purview of the Home Secretary to ban someone from the UK but it was an extraordinary opportunity for the Brits to weigh in on the American election process.  One member of Parliament described Trump as “an idiot.”

He is far from that.  He is manipulative, decisive and pandering.  He is bringing out the worst of us.  He reminds me of the crass politicians of ancient Rome and that’s not good.

What is good is that today is Martin Luther King Day and we are remembering an extraordinary man who changed the fabric of American life. He taught black Americans to move beyond their fears and called to white Americans to be the best they could be.  When he died I was but a boy and already reeling from the death of JFK.  His death and that of RFK mangled my mind, probably for the rest of my life.  I still reverberate with all those deaths from the ’60’s when I was young and realizing the world for the first time, making my first realizations of what life was about and what life seemed to be about in those days was killing.

And it hasn’t changed.  We have not had many high profile murders as those but we have fallen into the grinding news of killings on a daily basis all over the world, killing that is disgusting, motivated by twisted religious beliefs as the Nazis twisted people into genocide.

Letter From New York 01 16 16 A Paean to Paul…

January 16, 2016

When I woke this morning, the grey sky was sheeting rain and I could hear it pound on the roof.  It was a somber morning, reflecting my mood.

Yesterday, as I was about to go into a meeting with the Associate Dean at the college where I begin to teach on Wednesday, I listened to a voice mail on my mobile.  It was Andrew, the son-in-law of my good friend Paul Krich.

As soon as I got the message I knew what would be waiting for me when I returned it.  Paul, who had been fighting a stoic battle against cancer, had succumbed.

It was news that stunned me almost more than I could handle.

Years ago, when my now ex-partner and I first had the cottage, we quickly developed a routine.  My schedule was more flexible than his; I took the 5:35 out of Penn, went to the house, turned up the heat, laid a fire and then went down to meet the train that left Penn at 7:15.

There was a crowd always at the station, many, like me, waiting for significant others to get off.  Almost always in the crowd was an elegant man with what white hair he had, carefully shorn, always dressed elegantly.  I noticed he met an equally elegant woman who invariably got off the train with bags of food.

It became our custom to go to the Red Dot for dinner.  The other couple did too.

The man and I began to nod to each other while waiting on the platform and then, one night, the elegant woman had too many bags and my ex helped her with them as she was getting off the train.

Not more than fifteen minutes later we were at adjoining tables at the Red Dot.  Laughing, I said we really should introduce ourselves and we did.  It was Paul.

We pulled our tables together and had a lovely evening that became the first of many.

My partner and I split.  Not long after Paul and Lorraine separated. 

There came a time in the summer after Paul and Lorraine had separated when Paul and I found ourselves at the Dot, seated at the bar, eating dinner.  The second time it happened, we left the bar and got a table, starting a tradition of Saturday evening “dates.”

Paul was one of the most amazing men I have ever met.  An avid gardener, he knew so much about horticulture, Whenever we were walking he would point out to me plants and tell me their lineage.

He adored and collected botanical prints.  He appreciated antiques and taught me about tramp art.  To go with him to an antique show or an auction was to be both entertained and educated.

He savored the fine things of life with palpable pleasure.

He rode a Harley – Davidson and wore biker jewelry.

Once he told me he loved to come to the parties at my cottage because I always had such an interesting mix of people at them.  And they were an interesting mix, artists and neighbors, filmmakers, real estate agents and restaurant owners, retired state patrol officers and a former lineman for the local electric company.  Young and old, gay and straight, all fun and all welcoming of each other…

Paul was inclusive.  He had long ago shed the middle class fears and snobberies that flowed through our world as we were growing up.  He embraced people of color, the gay men and women who moved in his orbit, the musicians and the dancers and the artists.

He constantly praised my blogging, encouraging me to keep on at a moment when I was thinking of wrapping it up.

He worked at being fair to everyone, to treating them equally.  He had a ready laugh and a constant, wonderful twinkle in his eye. 

He was the man you counted upon.  Everyone who knew him, knew he could be counted upon, to work to his best to be his best.  He was a human being, not flawless, none of us are, but he worked hard at his humanity and inspired me.

He invited me to his mother’s 100th birthday party, not a large party but one dominated by warmth and caring, for Millie, his mother, and for him.  I will always look back with warmth at the softly lit room and see Paul sitting at the head of the table smiling, his eyes laughing.

The world is diminished with his passing.  I have felt bereft since I heard the news.  As I was driving into Hudson today for errands, I realized it seemed impossible to me we would not ever again sit in the garden of the Dot, the fountain splashing, chatting about our weeks and our lives.

I cannot imagine a world without Paul but that world now exists and I will have to learn how to cope with it.

Letter From New York 01 12 2016 No mean spirits allowed…

January 12, 2016

It’s late afternoon, Tuesday the 16th, and I am in the Acela Lounge waiting for my train north.  I could grab an earlier one but it is probable if I wait for the 5:47, I will see one or two friends I haven’t seen for a while.

Before opening the laptop and letting my fingers tap the keyboard, I was reading about the death of David Bowie at 69.  He did not much share the news of his health and the announcement of his death did not reveal the kind of cancer which felled him nor the place where he died.

I was told not long ago that he had a place up in the Hudson Valley.  The now ex-wife of my friend Paul Krich, Lorraine, was a good friend of Iman, now Bowie’s widow and she was visiting them one night when I was there for dinner.  She was quiet and shy and was with their daughter.  She and her daughter retired early, smilingly and charmingly.

Bowie has been prolific in the last months of his life, co-writing a play titled “Lazarus” along with a music video of the same name.  Now he is dead, they can be seen as his communicating to the world his time was short.

Time is short for all of us.  It’s a blip of time we inhabit this planet, no matter how old we get. 

Making the most of his blip of time, media mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced his engagement to the ex-wife of Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, the former supermodel.  This is her second marriage, his fourth.  She is 59; he is 84.  Between them they have ten children.

In Istanbul, not far from the Hagia Sofia, a sixth century Orthodox church now a museum, a young Syrian blew himself up, killing at least ten, mostly Germans, and wounding more.  The Turks believe it is IS and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has decried the event.

Putin has hinted today that if Assad ever feels the need to leave Damascus, he might well find welcome in Moscow.  If he made that choice, it would lessen the complications for a Syrian peace.

Humanitarian workers who have reached the town of Madaya have found “barely moving skeletons.”  It is the worst they have seen in the five year Syrian wars and the image causes me to think of the photos taken of Jews as the camps were liberated from the Germans.

The political circus continues.  ANOTHER Republican debate is upon us with Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina now relegated to the “undercard” debate.  Rand Paul says no way and he is off to do more campaigning in person than appearing in the second tier debate.  Paul could be smart or desperate.  Remains to be seen…

Bernie Sanders has a lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and has just moved slightly ahead of her in Iowa.  Chelsea has been sent out to campaign.

Though it will probably offend my conservative friends, the NY Times today did a scathing piece on Ted Cruz accusing him of exploiting evangelicals and actually espousing actions that are cruel, painful, and harmful — ones that certainly aren’t very Christian.

As Solicitor General of Texas, he went to the Supreme Court to keep a man in jail who had stolen a calculator from Walmart.  Because of a judicial mistake, the man got sixteen  years instead of two.  When the mistake was discovered, Cruz went into overdrive to keep him in jail the full sixteen.  Eventually the poor man was freed after six.  All over a calculator?  Cruz seems petty and mean and mean spirited all the way round.

Not feeling specially mean spirited and with suspicions friends would be on the train, I went down to Penn Spirits and purchased a bottle of a nice Sauvignon Blanc and a small bottle of sake.  And I got several cups.

Now the train is moving. My friends are here.  Soon we will open the bottle and enjoy good spirited company.  Here’s NOT to you, Mr. Cruz!

Letter From New York 12 27 14 Christmas is winding down…

December 27, 2014

For the first time in a week, there is music on in the house that isn’t Christmas carols. Pandora is playing simple classical music from the Romantic Period. It is a nice break.

Earlier today I went off and had brunch at my friend Paul’s home over in East Chatham with his daughter and her fiancé. Good food, good conversation. Karen and Andrew went out on their quads and Paul and I reminisced. We’ve now known each other through twelve years and have a shared history; he has been a wonderful friend. We used to have a standing date for Saturday nights at the Dot until he began to spend less time up in Columbia County. His home is for sale here, part of his divorce settlement and should he buy another house it will be probably in New Jersey, closer to his daughter and her family.

They had been at my party last night and all of us were having a slow day. It was a good party and I was exhausted by the end of it, having been cooking and cleaning for three straight days – all of it pretty good, if I say so myself. The Christmas roast was not perfect but most of it was pretty darn good.

I have found myself very contemplative the last three days. It has been a joyous Christmas with good friends and I found myself also wanting more companionship than I have had recently. The cottage is a lovely place and I found myself wanting to share it over Christmas with someone. Perhaps it is a passing mood or an openness to something new in my life in the new year.

On some levels I am sorry to see 2014 go; it had some splendid times, like my train trip to Los Angeles with my friend Nick Stuart for the installation of our friend Eric as pastor at a church in Santa Monica, not far from where I had once lived. And though I sometimes want to stop the flow of time, I can’t. Each day slips away into the next, ferrying us into the future.

Perhaps some of my nostalgia is that I am also apprehensive about what will come in 2015. It is mostly a blank slate and I am getting itchy to be engaged again. It will be interesting to find out what it will be.

There will be no New Year’s resolutions. I will do my best to keep faithful to the ongoing resolutions of my life.

Keeping the news mostly at bay, I have celebrated the joys of living on earth, beautiful landscapes and good friends and have not let the news of the riven world disturb me much these days. I will pay more attention in the morning I am sure but in this little space that is “Christmas” I have attempted to focus on the joyful little things that make live sweet and wonderful.

Two thousand years or so ago, a man named Jesus was born and he changed history and created one of the great movements of all time. It has spawned great generosity and sad wars. But those were the men who came after him that did those things. He preached peace and forgiveness, which I am doing my best to remember this time of year.