I’m not sure which came first, Indiana, Pennsylvania or the State of Indiana, but as a Central Pennsylvanian I often have a nanosecond of confusion when someone mentions Indiana and I have to figure out which one they’re talking about without looking like I’m trying to figure that out. Yes, I’m a doofus.
Harvey and the front door from his now demolished house in Beverly Hills. There are also lots of things like the stuff that I have from my grandfather: kitschy knicknacks, his high school diploma, business papers, and awards from various service clubs.
Chasen’s, the favorite L.A. eatery of the stars of the Jimmy Stewart era. Had this been the Bryant family museum, it would have been the booth from The Corner Room where my sister barfed when she was a kid.
My meeting was held at IUP, formally known as Indiana University of Pennsylvania. There is no relation in the slightest to the No Descriptor Needed University of Pennsylvania. My grandfather was a member of IUP’s Class of 1916. He grew up on a farm (dairy, not Christmas tree or even menorah) near Indiana and lost his leg in a farming accident when he was a small child. Since he used a wooden leg, I mean, prosthetic device, he was unsuitable for farm chores, he went to college to make something of himself.
Fisher Auditorium was particularly nice—it’s sort of a Georgian chapel (less the steeple) from the front while the interior is Art Deco movie house. I suppose that makes it an architectural mullet—all business up front and party in the rear.
The conference was the annual hoedown for presenting organizations in Pennsylvania. Although there are some nice people in the group, it can be pretty dreadful—you try sitting next to a pit bull-like agent pitching a tenor slash airline gate agent from Long Island at lunch. This year I had the good fortune of running into an agent for a band I’d booked last year. We’d only met on the phone and so it was a pleasant surprise when he introduced himself. He was bright and funny and didn't look at all like the person I imagined him to be, not that I had a clear picture in my head.
Gomez Addams. He’s alive! I think he went to IUP with my grandfather. Actually, he wasn’t that old, just almost, and really, looks pretty good for someone I thought was dead. His luncheon speech was long and he didn’t mention The Addams Family or Patty Duke once. The highlight of the lunch was when someone’s phone went off and they couldn’t figure out how to stop it. Even John Astin stopped talking and asked what was going on as the embarrassed perp tried to beat the offending phone into submission.
One guy played little whistles and looped the tunes he created. Pretty soon it sounded the Nature Company Store at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 1984. He clearly did not know the meaning of the technical term “15 minutes”. Had they not turned up the house lights, I think he’d still be there enjoying his own company. There were also some semi-leaden dancers, of the Ukrainian and modern variety. Not my thing. How could I forget the chamber music group that sounded as if they’d handed each player music for a different number? I’ll pass thanks. There was also a glitzy country-classical family group that sounded OK if you like that sort of PBS telethon act. My guess was that they practiced so much that they were left with no time to ask that important question, “Which is worse, my dress or my hair?” I’m sure they’ll be quite successful, but they weren’t really a fit for CPFA.
There were some unexpectedly good showcases, too. If you can blow a balloon up with a leaf blower, and then crawl inside the balloon, and act like the monster from Alien, I promise I’ll laugh. Some acts I’d booked in the last year or two were there showcasing. The fact that those acts were both talented and professional made me feel smart for having brought them to the Arts Festival.
“Oh yeah, lots of times”, she said casually, as if I’d asked her if she’d ever gotten a parking ticket. She proceeded to share the story of how she repeatedly mooned her grandmother in a nursing home, exposing not only her not insubstantial ass, but also her tattoo.
"What's your tattoo", I asked, expecting her to say, the Steelers logo, or perhaps Wilma Flintstone.
“What’s that little angel with wings called?”
“You mean a cherub?”
"Yeah, that’s it!”
Ashlee told us that her grandmother loved it when Ashlee dropped trou and bent over right there in The Home. I have no doubt that it was some sort of religious experience. Bernadette of Lourdes sees the Virgin Mary; a woman in a Pennsylvania nursing home sees a cherub tattooed on her granddaughter’s ass. I suppose that comes under the heading of "God speaks to us in different ways."
A key part of Ashlee’s mooning ritual was the fact that the cherub was a little worse for wear since when Ashlee “went tanning” she neglected to put “that stuff” on him. I wasn’t exactly sure what “that stuff” was (asbestos? duct tape?) or what could have possibly happened to the little (OK, probably kinda big) guy, but I’m hoping that he’ll get some medical attention once Obamacare goes into effect.
On my way home from the conference, I tried to find the farm where my grandfather, Harry Nehrig, grew up, and where I had to endure a couple of Nehrig family reunions when I was a small child. I tried to look it up online, and found a web page that said that the farm had been in the same family for seven generations. While my grandfather the family patriarch loved going to the reunion, and having his children and grandchildren there, an afternoon on the farm eating congealed salads in the company of my rural relations was not for me.
|My only photos of the Nehrig Reunion...c.1952, when I was not yet even a gleam in my parents' eyes.|