Monday, June 8, 2015

Lifelong Passions

It was a quiet weekend and I didn't feel particularly good or energetic for any of it, but it was jam-packed with high moments and near life-long and old-time joys and interests and passions being sated, and that alone made it super.

First -- a quick trip to the library Saturday morning scored the latest book by my writing idol, Anne Rivers Siddons, The Girls of August. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I didn't even know this book existed, because I try to keep track of her new books. It came out last July, when I was immersed in monastic life in California and after some hectic months of planning, and then moving back to the west coast. So maybe I can be forgiven, but really -- I've checked websites of other writers I like since then, and I have no idea why I didn't check hers. I've read every book she's ever written. But -- it made for a nice surprise when I saw it on a shelf and grabbed it almost rudely. And unlike her last book, Burnt Mountain, which was seriously weird, this one returned to her 'roots' of writing about people and wonderful old houses, all set in the south. Her earlier books were mostly set in Atlanta (she was an early writer for Atlanta magazine), but then she moved on to the wonderful Carolina low country that is still a magnet for me, if I only had the money. From Charleston and its islands, on down to Beaufort and its islands and beaches, she has done more than any other writer to draw such beautiful word-pictures of that area and make me long to see it. Pat Conroy has done his share, too, of course -- but Ms. Siddons is still my favorite. It was a short book that was easily finished, and as usual I felt bereft once it was over. Beautiful!

Then -- probably a little-known fact here is my passion for horse racing. I'm not sure when that started, exactly, but I'll guess it was around 13 or 14. I inhaled racing statistics, bloodlines, who won what where, and my first racing 'idol' was Bold Ruler, in 1957. I picked him early on in the season, watching one of the early races on TV (maybe the Flamingo Stakes, not sure). When he lost the Derby I was shocked -- was so sure he would do it. More of a sprinter, unfortunately, but he showed them all after he became one of the best sires ever in the breed. One son was Secretariat, grandsons such as Spectacular Bid and Seattle Slew also come to mind. So in the end, he did OK. As a star-struck teenager, I wrote to his trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons and asked for a photo -- which I got! It was in the winner's circle at the Flamingo, and it was signed 'To Kitty, from Bold Ruler and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons'. I treasured that for years, then accidentally tossed it when I was purging for a move from Newport Beach back in the mid-70s. Would love to still have it today. That's the downside of moving, and purging, so often. Sometimes, things get lost in the shuffle.

Then, in 1958 I picked a lovely horse named Tim Tam, again early in the season. This one won both the Derby and Preakness and was well on his way to winning the Belmont when in the stretch run an Irish horse named Cavan passed him and won by many lengths. My first heartbreak! It didn't take long for the announcement to be made that he'd broken a sesamoid bone in a front ankle as he entered the stretch, but kept running. His jockey said later that while he knew something was wrong, the horse refused to pull up and he stopped urging him to run. He would have won! I'll never stop believing that, and every year in June when I watch the Belmont, the memories return. Fortunately, with some surgery he survived and lived into the 80s as a stud with some success.

So -- yes, I've watched all the races this year and yes I watched American Pharoah win the coveted triple crown on Saturday. And yes, I was filled with emotion.

So then -- I can't believe there's more -- came Sunday night and my other lifelong (or close) passion, Broadway musicals came my way via the Tony Awards with all the live performances from various shows. I loved every minute of it! And this is about as close as I'll ever get again to Broadway in this lifetime, I suspect. It fills the empty hole a little. As I watched, I was trying to remember which shows I've actually seen in New York. My first Broadway show was actually a drama, Dracula with  Frank Langello way back in the late 70s, courtesy of Wells, Rich, Greene advertising (or, probably, the client) after I'd flown on the red-eye from Los Angeles to deliver some artwork for an early morning board of directors meeting of Columbia Pictures, one of our clients. This was way before the digital age, of course. Big flat carrying case of original storyboards that I guarded carefully. Afterwards, I was treated to some tours of the fabled New York office and a few days in the city on the client. Fun!

But I digress. Another visit to NYC a few years later, this time courtesy of my employer, Beringer Vineyards, on a tour of the eastern market (NYC, DC and Boston). This time, I saw Evita and 42nd Street, and maybe that was the trip where I saw a show with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Or maybe that was the next trip, I'm really not sure. It was all a long time ago. The next trip, which was a year or two later, I went to the national POPAI award show where I had two displays entered (one blue ribbon, one red). This time I wasn't alone -- one of our suppliers who had printed one of the displays went, too, so my time wasn't totally my own. He and I went to see Evita again (first time for him) and had some good food. I've seen countless musicals in various places where I've lived, but these were Broadway, and that brought a whole new dimension to the subject.

So yeah, a good weekend! The weather's been great. My lungs are, hopefully, getting better, although walking up the hill from the bus stop on Saturday was tougher than I expected -- audible wheezing, most uncomfortable. But -- these things will pass. Today I expect to return to my gym schedule, although I'm under no illusions that I'll return to my full workout just yet. One step at a time, and it was still a helluva weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment