Monday, April 27, 2015

Encounter: Herb Caen

Although I never met Her Caen face-to face, the signed photograph he sent me still sits at my desk. As may of you may well know, for many years he was the most successful columnist in newspapers around the Bay Area. Most of his work was for The Chronicle, although he also wrote for a time for the rival Examiner. 

On one occasion, I sent him an item emanating from the East Bay. He asked if there were a San Francisco angle. I replied that although I worked in Oakland, I played in San Francisco. He chortled at that response, although I knew there wasn't much truth to it.

Our last communication began when I reported that I had been withdrawing money from an ATM, and sneezed loudly. A woman waiting for her turn said that I must be "allergic to money." By the time Herb Caen printed the story, he added the perfect response, which I didn't actually make: "No, I just have withdrawal symptoms." 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Encounter: Barbara Boxer

I met the future Senator at a political meeting in San Francisco many years ago. I was impressed by her energy and knowledge.
Barbara has a sister, former professor at San Jose State, published author, whose work includes a treatise on painters in Victorian England. Dr. Paula Gillette and her husband, a retired psychiatrist, remain our good friends, but we never discuss her sister.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Encounter: Sir Simon Rattle

This is a bit of a "stretch" since my seeing Simon Rattle was when he was still a small child. My late first wife (Lola) was a friend of his parents, Denis & Pauline. Denis had been a bandleader at Oxford, and was one of those talented people who can sit at a piano and play almost any tune, and soon have everyone joining in the songs they knew.  Simon clearly inherited his father's musical talent; he was conducting major orchestras in his early twenties

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Encounter: George Hurst

George was a well-known conductor in England until his death a few years ago. He came from a family of Romanian Jews, who had changed their last name to the very English "Hurst". When he came to Port Regis, he impressed us immediately by his facile musical ability. If he heard a tune, he could usually identify it and preform it on the piano. Many years ago, shortly before I left for California in 1957, George stayed with my first wife and me when he came to conduct the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. I remember playing a scrap of music, and asking him if he could identify it. He did so immediately. He spent some time conducting the Bournemouth Light Symphony, and then the BBC Northern Orchestra. What I remember best about George is his modesty even though he had become quite famous in his twenties.