Friday, October 20, 2017

Connecticut | Lefsetz Letter

I’m so high on cookies it’s INSANE!

I sat down for the Wrap Up show and there was a bag with a note and I figured it was a gift from the Stern show but it turned out to be a bag full of Levain chocolate chip cookies, delivered by Judy Tint, and it made me so happy. I ate two for lunch and two after dinner and now I may never sleep again, high on sugar. The cookies are akin to cakes, thick, and the chocolate chocolate chip ones are to die for, I’d like to say you can stop eating them, but you can’t.

And a lot of people recommended their personal haunts in the city, and I’d like to try them all out, but alas I’m now in Connecticut, my homeland, where it is so…


That’s right, the leaves have not turned yet, or just barely. But if you live in Los Angeles Connecticut is a revelation, you take it for granted when you live here, but the foliage makes you feel warm and alive, cocooned, like the planet was made to be inhabited by people.

And my mother lives in an apartment on the sixth floor and from her balcony you can look over the Sound all the way to Long Island, and this may not mean anything to you if you’re not from the area, but once upon a time the Hamptons were not hip and the thought of taking the ferry to the Island…wasn’t exactly unthinkable, but you didn’t do it. This was before I went to summer camp and found out so many lived on that island known as Long, found out about the Five Towns, and once again you either know what I’m talking about or you don’t. And the truth is the east coast is one big club, with its own references, a bunch of culture, and if you live here it’s hard to move anywhere else, but some of us escape, to Florida, where the humidity will kill you, or Los Angeles, where the most important thing is what kind of car you drive, which is just phony enough for me. Hell, where I went to college never comes up in California, whereas in the east it’s a badge of honor.

So I woke up and went to the Stern show.

One thing you’ve got to know about New York is the security. You can’t make your way into any building without credential. And the elevators have no buttons, you can go to your floor and only your floor, and this used to seem like overkill but in this era of Las Vegas, of mass shootings every week, it’s good to be safe, hell, you get off the elevator and you still can’t get into Sirius, there’s a guard, you’ve got to be buzzed in.

So I was greeted by Steve Brandano, Stern’s young music expert. He talked about loving the Dead with Mayer, going to six of Phish’s Baker’s Dozen, and liking Daniel Glass’s Jade Bird and Durand Jones, I love picking people’s brains, seeing what they’re excited about, that’s where I get my best tips.

And then the show ended and we were ushered into the Wrap Up studio and that’s when I realized I was out of energy. I started to talk and…

I wasn’t gonna blow my big moment, was I?

Reminded me of the bar exam. The multistate. Whose cutoff point is higher in California than anywhere else. When I took the bar far under 50% passed it. And they say you guess on the multistate, multiple choice exam, BUT NOT BOB LEFSETZ!

Oh yes I did. It was about ninety minutes into an all day exam and I realized…

I was flunking. So I went to the bathroom, sat on the pot, pulled myself together, and passed.

So during the first commercial break I ate an energy bar, got up my gumption and…

Ran with it.

Gary wanted to talk vinyl. I told him I had all mine and was all for it as long as the records were originally recorded analog, i.e. on tape, otherwise it’s a fetish, hell, many people buy vinyl who don’t even own turntables!

And they asked me to beat up on Rahsaan for not liking the Beatles.

But I couldn’t. You see it’s a white boomer thing. And Rahsaan is black and thirty two and grew up in a household of funk. Everybody’s s ethnocentric, everybody’s so self-satisfied. But the truth is there’s a generation gap as wide as the one in the sixties, been happening for years, when you listen to the Spotify Top 50 and laugh, the joke is on you, there’s a culture in hip-hop, boosted not only by music but the clothing, and the oldsters just can’t understand it, and since white boomers have power they think they’re right, that their music rules, but they’re wrong.

Then again, Rahsaan loved “Led Zeppelin II” and the Beatles and the classic acts drove the culture in a way hip-hop does not, because we had so few outlets and we all listened to the same ones, radio ruled, and I’ll argue the old music was better because in today’s income inequality world the middle class does not go into the industry but we can discuss that amongst ourselves.

And the thing about the Stern show is it’s a family. And you feel included. We talked about Sal and Ronnie and it was like talking about someone you go to school with, we all want to belong and being at the Stern show feels like home, and you never want to leave.

But ultimately I did.

And I went out to this restaurant Whelk with my mother, in Westport, I Yelped it, had eight oysters and a lobster dish, you can’t get this variety of oysters in the west, one from Norwalk, right next door, and another from Connecticut and the rest from Massachusetts! And they were all delicious. Did I tell you about the time Marc Reiter and I went out for dinner and ordered eighty oysters? Your man Luke may be able to eat fifty eggs, but we can eat…

And Paul Newman lived in Westport and the Post Road is the same but different. The Chinese restaurant is gone, but Gold’s Delicatessen is still there. And you drive past the haunts that were a staple of your youth, when you were not only young, but ignorant, yet thought you knew everything, and you feel a sense of connection and loss all at the same time. This is my life, but I know I’m never returning here anymore.

That’s what’s funny. All the things you leave behind, they’re not in the distant past. You run into an old love and the sinews start forming instantly, what brought you together is still there, and you have to hang for a while to remember what pulled you apart.

And today Gord Downie died. I knew him. He was an artist more than a rock star. But I never thought he’d pass before me, at fifty three. Canada is mourning and New Orleans is sinking and my mother is still living when almost all of her friends have passed. Weekends are quiet, but she fills up the days, she’s game, she uses a walker but she gets around, went to a play at Yale Rep this afternoon and she’s got me totally scheduled for the next two days and it’s like she’ll be here forever but I know she won’t and I don’t want to contemplate this.

And high on cookies I decided to tackle four hundred and fifty e-mails and in the middle I found one from Jimmy Kimmel, inviting me to the taping today, with Howard, but I left Sirius straight for Connecticut and missed out.

Jimmy did the show and then went to see Springsteen.

I saw Springsteen at the Bottom Line back in ’74, when boasting about seeing an act early was a thing, before Bruce was a thing, after I became enamored of “The Wild, the Innocent…”

But we’re neither wild nor innocent anymore. We tend to be complacent and living on our laurels. Hell, Bruce Springsteen is selling nostalgia. A notch on the belt for supposed fans. But the truth is he not busy being born is busy dying and it’s Dylan who’s the beacon, who never gives us what we want but follows his own muse and I no longer want to go but I get it, you’ve got to keep pushing the envelope, keep searching, keep going when everybody else gives up, not to win, but to be happy, for the stimulation, embrace the new and unknown and you’ll have disappointments but also the experiences of a lifetime.

So I cannot go to sleep. For some reason Henley’s “End of the Innocence” keeps running through my head, I don’t know why, but it’s true, like that old Canadian band once sang, I’m an adult now, I’m responsible for my own life, I’ve got to go where I wanna go, do what I wanna do, with whoever I want to do it with…

And so should you…


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