Friday, November 18, 2011

birthday season

Welcome to birthday season.  There have always been a lot of people in my life with November and near-November birthdays, and of course I'm one.  Robin is one too, and so is my uncle Howard.  And my aunt Marion.  There are other people who have been in and out of my life who also have those birthdays, which is why the borders of the season are a little wavy.  There are some former boyfriends, an old girlfriend I'm not in close touch with, and, actually, V. as well.  V. was always fun to birthday shop for.  He wasn't that into birthdays but he loved presents.

But this was a big year for Barry:  he turned 60.  The big surprise that I was too paranoid to post about here was that I arranged a surprise jam session.  He plays drums, if I haven't mentioned that lately -- he was in two bands when I met him.  Now he doesn't play in a band but has started to go to a couple of blues jam sessions.  It took me about a year to go to one with him.  He was meeting a lot of people I knew from my blues days some years back, and I got to see them, and I got to meet some people he had met.  I've written about this.  I got a fifteen minute crush on a guy at one of those jams -- I'm sure I mentioned it.

Anyway -- I had an idea this summer to rent a few hours of studio space and get a bunch of his musician friends to come and then have him go there and be surprised.  I floated the idea past a couple of his friends during the summer and they loved it.  Then I had to investigate the whole business of renting a studio and what it cost and how big and what comes with the rental (amps? keyboards?).  And I touched base with more guys, and more or less decided on the date, and so on.  I realized that I would have to tell him to bring drumsticks, so it wouldn't be a surprise that he'd be playing, and he knows the block where a bunch of studios are (30th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenue), but he wouldn't know who would be there. 

Some people couldn't make it, but he ended up with exactly enough:  Felix Cabrera (vocals and harp), Evan Wagner (bass), Chuck Hancock (tenor sax and vocals), and Arthur Neilson (guitar).  Felix is Barry's bestie; Barry used to play with Evan in a couple of Brooklyn bands; and Chuck is one of my old pals who Barry also met at the jams.  These are all people who have some other income source.  Arthur is kind of a notch up; he's the guitar player for Shemekia Copeland, who's pretty much the top female contemporary blues artist at this moment.  He's also in the house band for the Monday night jam.  I'm personally in touch with some of these people through Facebook, but Arthur isn't on and he and I have only met once.  I had to have Felix ask him for me, and was absolutely stunned that he said yes.  Barry was also somewhat stunned that Arthur came, because they don't know each other very well.  The deal with Arthur is that he's one of the nicest guys ever, and we got lucky that he wasn't gigging or on tour.  It was a very big deal.

All of these guys are first-rate, make no mistake; there are a lot of amazing musicians out there who have day jobs.  Felix is woefully underemployed.  Chuck works, and has toured internationally, but I'm not certain if he works regularly with any one band.  Evan has a day job and is still young enough to have the energy to play with a band.  (When I met Barry, he played with two bands and had a day job.)

Barry, when he played with two bands.  This was taken at one of his gigs in late 1997, very soon after we started seeing each other.  Were we not adorable?

Anyway, the surprise jam was a rousing success.  They had the studio for three hours, then Evan took Barry out for a bite to eat.

Friday night, which was Barry's actual birthday, I couldn't get off early to do anything about cooking (had to take minutes at a Board meeting until 4:00).  So we ordered in, although I did buy a dozen tiny, two-bite cupcakes from a placed called Baked by Melissa.  They were a big hit.  Saturday was the jam, and Sunday evening Elise (and her sibs Evette and Marty) took us out for dinner.  Marty's wife Laurie was also there, Evette's husband Freddie was not, niece Lindsey was nephew Ross and girlfriend Margaret were not.  The Taub/Singer/Levy clan is pretty hard to get together.  We went to a nice dairy (kosher) place (I had a salad nicoise with fresh grilled tuna, a big fave of mine).

The only thing bad all weekend was at the very end:  we came home after dinner, and most of our neighbors were in the first floor hallway.  No one had seen our front-apartment neighbor Johnny for a couple of days, and he wasn't answering his phone or door.  He had some health problems and seemed a little more wobbly of late, and as we feared it turned out he was dead in his apartment.  Johnny was kind of the mayor of our building, which is a big deal in a six-apartment building.  He helped the landlord (let Con Ed into the basement, washed the hallways, kept an eye on the trash & recycling), and all of us (took packages for people, distributed the overflow from the landlord's backyard garden).  He was just a nice, kind, sweet guy, and we were all really broken up.

I am extra broken-up that his funeral is tomorrow afternoon...the same tomorrow afternoon when my (Providence, RI-dwelling) brother and sister-in-law and nephew will be in New York and available.  I haven't seen them in two years.  We have all been too poor to travel back and forth, and my brother is pretty much not speaking to my dad, so he doesn't come for it's been two years.  I feel terrible that I can't go to John's memorial, but anyone who knows me -- and now you all know too -- knows that I love my brother to pieces.  We have at times been almost smotheringly close.  There was a time when we both worked at NYU Law, across the street from each other, and averaged one lunch and two two-hour phonecalls a week, just crazy.  We've had friction here and there.  Part of it may be that for a really major seven-year chunk of our young lives, it was just the two of us and our mother living together, and she's gone.  He's just one click closer than anyone else I'm related to.

So, I'm stupidly excited about seeing my brother -- and this is even without taking into account my eight-year-old nephew Walter, who is kind of a junior Danny.  Very smart and very friendly and very adorable.  (Pictured: tiny baby Walter, and 2010 Walter.)  (Note my 2002 slobby dressing and grooming.  Oddly enough, I am just now wearing the exact same tee shirt.  But I'm knocking around the house, not out in public.) (This is also one of my favorite pictures of Barry.  He looks very handsome and very sweet.)

I also love my sister-in-law Jane, who is a very good mother and as smart and funny as most of our family seems to be.  Is.  Jane is also the one who was brave enough to take the last name Zogott, which made me feel a little better about kicking it to the curb two years later, when I married Barry.  There are actually only six or seven Zogotts at present in the US, all related to me; Howard's first wife, Tina, uses "Zogott-Onsted", so she's the #7.  I use it as my middle name, so people can find me who knew me as Zogott, but for all intents and purposes, I'm a Levy.

And by the way, this is my birthday weekend -- in fact, today is my birthday.  I got a lot of cards and a lot of Facebook messages and flowers and a potted orchid and a fancy lunch out and a fun dinner in.  Barry gave me a much-needed and much-wanted gift:  a new everyday watch.  The last one he gave me pretty much gave out recently, after 13 years.  That's a pretty good run for an everyday watch.  And he really nailed the style:  dial, numerals, about the size of a nickel, black leather band...and Indiglo!  I like a very simple, neutral, classic, hard-working, old-school watch, and I got me a new Timex.  (Indiglo, BTW, is when you press the stem and the face lights up with an excellent blue light.  I know other watches light up but Timex Indiglo rules it.)  I LOVE my watch. 

I do indeed have other watches.  One I would call "dressier," but it's vintage and tends to need pricey repairs once a year, so it hasn't been in rotation for a while.  The others I have are on the silly side, and some need batteries and one needs a strap.  Some of those are promotional, linked to movies, gifted to me by John Jorge when he worked at MCI/Universal.  One is Badz-Maru.  (You can Google that one yourself, if you're not a Sanrio maven.)

I've found myself a few Bollywood co-fans.  Marty Taub is one.  And also a recent Facebook friend, someone I was involved with many years ago when it was wildly age-inappropriate.  (Can't really talk about all that, but he's still very funny and a smart smart guy.)  And not only that, I have a new Facebook friend who is a Bollywood fan -- and he lives in Mumbai!  He must have seen me on an Amitabh Bachchan fan page, and sent a friend request.  So it's really my first interaction with a Bollywood film fan who not only lives in India, he lives in Mumbai, which is...well, Bollywood. 

(For those of you who don't have the Bollywood religion, the Indian film industry is centered in Mumbai, which used to be called Bombay -- which is how the Indian film industry came to be called "Bollywood."  See?)    I'm really a beginner with Indian film, very enthusiastic, but still inexperienced.  I'm somewhat limited by not knowing Hindi, along with often finding that my ill*gally d*wnloaded movies don't have subtitles.  I may actually have to break down and buy some DVDs (used on eBay). 

I did finally nail a copy of Bbhuddah...Hoga Terra Baap (I think I spelled that right) with subtitles; I believe it's Amitabh's most recent film, certainly his most recent starring role, from this past summer.  I've watched some, but I have to admit I've had trouble getting past the first big song/dance scene, which I've probably watched six times already.  It's a pisser.  Oh, wait a minute...

Not exactly up to what he did in Kabhi Alveda Naa Kehna in 2006, but the music is great and he is way cool.  Though I've noticed that in everything I've seen him in, with the exception of Kabhi Alveda Naa Kehna, he is dressed horrendously.  Be it the 70s or the 00's, he is wearing absolutely godawful crap. 

Anyway, he's the coolest, we all know that.  And his newest grandchild was born two days ago (here's another November birthday).  He has two from his not-acting not-famous daughter, but the new granddaughter is from famous-actor-son Abishek and his famous-actress-and-world-famous-beauty daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, so the media there is insane over it, and this baby girl will most likely be blindingly attractive, whether or not she chooses to be an actress (it tends to be a family business over there). (You can look up pictures of them too, I've done enough tonight.)

I'm not writing as often as I should, because I don't have the time, or am not making it.  I don't have nearly enough personal time during the workweek -- or, like money, not enough so that I can be careless with it.  If I decide to spend two hours watching Bollywood videos on YouTube, that's two hours that I'm not writing.  AB blogs every day, bless his heart, and tweets as well, but I'm no good at brevity.  I need some wide-open time and space to write. 

And since I can't keep anything in order at all at this point, I did also have a birthday-eve dinner with Robin yesterday.  We ate Indian food (and -- new tradition -- Starbucks after).  She gave me three of what I like to call "hair toys":  two velvet headbands and a French hairclip.  There used to be a store in Soho that sold French goods, and over the years, she gave me four hairclips from there.  They're pretty much my favorites.  Then the store closed.  But unknown to me, she found another store in the city that carries the same make of hairclips, and so I now have five of the amazing hairclips!

Since I wore short hair for the majority of my life (see above photo), hair toys are still a pretty big deal for me.  (Please ignore the horrible scrunchy in the other above photo.)  Well, I find that in general I'm a bit of an accessory slut since I started actually dressing myself decently.  I think I somehow crossed over at some point from not wanting to be seen or noticed to wanting to be seen and noticed, connected to a whole change of  dress and hair and wearing makeup.  Not to be too jargony, I think I started to own who I am and what I look like, and I turned out to be more attractive than I thought.  Yay for me!  But I can't quite figure how or why it happened.  Life: mysterious.

No comments:

Post a Comment