Friday, November 23, 2012
Welcome to the Holidays
I'm feeling more connected to the holidays than the souls in this great Edward Hopper 1942 painting, Nighthawks, appear to be. And yet, I too, can relate to the air of feeling in limbo. Not all Holidays are alike. I could be sitting there myself, and so I respect and commiserate. My late friend Mike, who often rued the toll that the holidays can take on people already depressed, himself brought a long slow self-induced fade out to an end shortly after Thanksgiving six or seven sad seasons ago.
However, for all we know, those four singular figures in the cafe are doing just ducky, thank you.
Presently, my fridge is stuffed with lavish leftovers offered me after the meal served, yesterday, at my nephew Jeff and his wife Gannimed's house in Lathrop, east of here by about forty miles. Chef Jeff calls a traditional turkey spread "true America soul food." Right, he is, and so little of it do I otherwise partake once the tinsel and red tin bells fade away. Back to broccoli, wild salmon (yes, at outrageous prices), and true dark chocolate.
Jeff, who builds all kinds of things from model airplanes to cabinets and small boats, is presently enthralled with trying to find out every thing he can about the actual design and construction details of San Francisco's old Big Dipper Roller coaster, once a landmark on the edge of the city's Ocean Beach. I grew up to its sweet thunder, directly across the street in the house where I was raised in Golden Gate Park -- my grandfather and then father worked for the city tending to the grounds and the Dutch "North" windmill. The Big Dipper was managed by my Uncle Smitty. Here it is, circa 1921, under construction.
While Jeff helps me with my own model roller coaster, producing track sections far superior to my original ones, he also digs deeper, on line, into Dipper photos, hoping to locate the actual detail drawings used during construction! I secured for Jeff a copy of a fine book on roller coasters, through the kind generosity of Paul Horsman.
Jeff also showed me how to Skype on my PC. The musical I am working on will get an informal "reading" at the house of the composer in the village in New York, come January. So I will be able to see it. Already committed to one of the leads, for the reading, is an actress with Broadway credits. Now, pardon my provincialism, but that's exciting!
Last night, turkey from Lathrop. This morning, turkey from San Leandro, thanks to my good friend, Boyi, whose father is a very clever Chinese cook. (The family just moved there from Oakland.) He has a way of creating what I call "candy turkey." Even deep into the dark meat, I reach a remarkably sweet tone. How produced? Boyi said his father sometimes soaks the turkey first in soy sauce.
So, for three days hence, I can look forward to a full course meal of "America's soul food" at lunch. And, for desert at intervals throughout the day, thin slices of candy turkey. What a deal.
Soon, I'll be watching my favorite holiday movie -- Holiday Inn. Its charm, great songs, fast paced story, everything about it, never tires. Thank you Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, and all the others.
And there are the lights of Christmas to savor, just up the street at Mountain View Cemetery.
Store up as many good and cherished memories as you can. Somebody, you may need them. Some day, you may be sitting in a cafe.