Friday, February 20, 2009

I always admired and envied my father's wavy black hair.

Even at the age of sixty only a distinguished small area of grey at the temples was visible. The rest of the scalp retained its jet black sheen.

Regularly, Dad went to the shop of "Mac the barber" located next to the Queen Chophouse where Mr. Henderson ate his lunch.

Dad was a client of Mac himself until one day after several years as Dad sat in the barber chair a customer walked in and Mac told him that he should sit down because I'll get this guy finished in just a couple of minutes.

Dad got his nose out of joint because he felt that his old buddy Mac was rushing and giving him less than a perfect haircut.

The next time he went to the second chair barber. The only problem was that while Dad was snoozing in the chair, Mac had opened the trapdoor to the cellar to get some supplies. Barber number two flipped back the cover sheet signalling the end of the session. Dad stepped out of the chair and tripped down the stairwell.

Bruised and shaken he visited old Dr. Francis Campbel who officed in the Drumheller Building. The old country G.P. who brought me into the world in 1929 taped his ribs and determined that no major bones were broken.

Father went back to Mac's shop to discuss the incident with him and to present the doctor's bill.
Mac listened and said, "Yes I know. Too bad!- turned his back and applied his scissors to the customer in the chair.

Mac's shop is gone. Many years ago a fire took out the Main Street face of the block between Fourth and Fifth.

Speaking of barbers, when I bought the Holmes building one of the tennants was Gus the barber.
I was collecting rent one day and he appeared upset.. He had just finished a long phone conversation with his wife. The problem was he didn't have a telephone in the shop.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Saw a bit of "Funny Girl" last night, the Barbara Streisand movie loosely based on the life of Fanny Brice.

I remember Fanny Brice from her radio program, Baby Snooks, in which she was a sort of female Dennis the Menace to Hanley Stafford's Mr. Wilson.

Apparently at 18 she had a beautiful voice and was a member of the Ziegfield Follies.

She became a noted comediene. While she became famous for her ethnic humor based mainly on the lives of Jewish imigrants, she was born in Brooklyn and picked up her characterizations from her early days working in her father's bar.

She tried to distance herself from her humble beginnings and when she had cosmetic surgery the satterist, Dorothy Parker, coined the phrase, "She cut off her nose to spite her race."

The love of her life, Nick Arnstein, was portrayed in the movie by the sophisticated Omar Sharif as a high roller gambler. Actually, Nick was a small time con man who was in and out of prison.

Ms Brice spent a fortune on defense when Arnstein was caught in a bond heist. At one point the prosecutor referred to him as the mastermind of the gang. Brice shouted out, "Nicki couldn't mastermind his way out of a paper bag."

If one is to believe the book, Hit andRun: How Jon Peters and Peter Gruber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood" by Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters there is a paralell with Streisand.

Their version of the story is that Jon Peters, a Rodeo Drive hair-dresser, told all of his clients that he was personal hair-dresser to Barbara Streisand the fact being he had never met her.

When an order came to the salon for an emergency house call, Jon slipped the fellow assigned to the job a couple of hundred dollars and sped out the Streisand Malibu home. The authors maintain that over the course of the set and rinse Jon became her lover and business manager.

He produced a record album for her and a couple of highly successful movies.

He was more then a Svengali to her Trilby. She had tended to be shy and reclusive. He built her confidence and after he left her to become co-head of MGM studios through contacts he made made managing Ms. S and at which the authors claim he bilked Sony out of billions she went on to produce, direct and star in Academy award quality movies.

Just as the movie glamorizes Arnstein, in the book on Peters I don't remember the authors mentioning that his family owned the upscale beauty solon and that he had made millions selling a cosmetics line before he met Streisand.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Reading about the resignations of a couple of president Obama's key appointments, I recall a conversation I was privy to several years ago.

I was visiting my aunt Edith and uncle Soby in Los Angeles during the New Year holiday.

Soby received a new year call from his brother. After the call was over Soby reported that his brother who had been an important member of the Eisenhower Administration but at the time was serving as a part time federal judge had had another judge come to his office.

The judge had a weighty problem. He had been nominated to the Supreme Court but the word out was that there would be a tough fight in the senate for his confirmation.

The brother informed the perplexed man that he should avoid putting the president on the spot.
A call to the White House explaining the situation asking them to draw up a letter of resignation which he would sign would be the decent thing to do.

He concluded to Soby- How could I tell the guy to his face that I didn't think he had the brains to be a Supreme Court justice?