On Tuesday night I was participating in a welcome tradition, the Annual Finley Holiday Tree Trimming Party. Bill and Susan Finley are one of those New York couples I have come to rely on in many ways unknown to them I’m sure. They represent for me the quintessence of all that is a certain New York.
Bill is a marvelous artist, writer and actor, part of the original Performance Group that pushed all boundaries with productions like Dionysius in 69. Long before there was a formal Ultimate Akademy, he recognized Al Hansen as a wandering art sage and thus his connection to my wife. Susan is also a terrific writer and the Executive Director of The Producer’s Project, a not-for-profit organization that works with school kids by giving them the means to create media projects based on their own experiences. It is a tremendous organization.
I was chatting with Susan about this blog when I told her that the one thing I really didn’t like was blogs that merely re-post other blog entries. While I recognize that sharing information is vital I also get a bit tired of blogs that are little more than a series of regurgitated posts. Needless to say I could feel the few strands of hair I have left brushing against the ceiling as I made my pronunciamento from that awfully high horse I was sitting on.
The party was wonderful, the company superb and the hosts warm and welcoming. When it was over I said my goodbyes and almost as soon as I hit the street it began bothering me. Why did I have to go and say that? Now I can never re-post anything ever. What if there was something important I needed to convey and someone else had already covered that topic much better?
The feeling has been bugging me off and on since. Well, it is 3:35 AM on Christmas Day 2009 and here I am again, making deep-dish apple pies with a long list of things not done and hoping to catch a few hours of sleep before company arrives.
I had such high hopes this year, but as it sometimes happens, time and money ran out. This year all that is possible now, in the way of gifts and greetings for my friends and family, is a simple blog entry. I do wish everyone a warm and safe holiday but to leave it at that, though sincere and heartfelt, is a bit ordinary.
I could write about my favorite Christmas in East LA when I was growing up or recount the way my family used to attend Midnight Mass at Mater Dolorosa, the Passionist Monastery in Sierra Madre, California when I was young. But let’s be honest, it is now 3:45 in the morning so I’ll have to leave that too for another year.
In its place the only thing that comes to mind is a wonderful story I once read online about the famous Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles. Back in the days of 16 mm film, I used to work as an assistant editor and one of my job assignments was at the old TAV Studios in Park La Brea just across the street from the Farmers Market. I remain grateful to my dear friend Martin Cohen; he was the editor on that project and he taught me a lot about the art and craft of editing. I am also grateful for the wonderful way we used to spend lunchtime together.
I looked forward to our lunch everyday. It made the sometimes tedious task of editing more interesting by affording us the opportunity to step outside the closed dark little room editors often inhabit for months on end without ever seeing sunlight. Martin made sure we went outside for an hour everyday and it made all the difference in the world. Everyday at noon we would go across the street to the Farmer’s Market and select something from one of the many vendors; then we would sit at one of the nearby tables and eat like civilized gentlemen.
Now my day is done, the pie is cooling and I would like to share an enchanting story I stumbled upon some years ago. Since it was written by someone else, I am about to break my own cardinal rule, but I have never been a slave to fashion or foolish consistency.
Happy Holidays and may all your wishes come true, because life is a song, sometimes sung by a group of carolers and a guy at a table at Farmer’s Market having coffee and an English muffin.