Archive for May, 2015


Friday, May 29th, 2015

       “…How do I say goodbye to what we had?
       The good times that made us laugh…”

Those who know me well grasp that I don’t live in the past so much as embrace its best pieces. As such, reveling in the present, still, I found parts of this last month…well… rough.

First, the play:

No show stirs this soul like “The Music Man”. I’ve said it before: my father was the spellbinder in my life. So many of the lines from the script could well have been spoken by him.

Yet it goes way further. Every song that is sung takes me to that air-brushed portion of youth where our family was young, melodic, together….

This production was indeed special. Joyous burial in the ensemble permitted me time to enjoy the music, interact with the principals, and practice “The Art Of Conversation” with the kids backstage.

“Bruce,” asked young Jack, (he in his first show), “Have you been in a play before?”
“Once” I told him. “In fact, that’s how I met John (the actor playing Professor Hill). “We were in ‘Sound Of Music’ out at Chagrin and a week before opening the lead got sick. I had to step in and play Maria.”
The lad’s eyes opened… wide.
“Yeah,” I continued, “I had no problem with the songs; I knew them. But I refused to kiss Von Trapp.”

—So on top of two months of singing with the music, I had all those weeks of this kind of nonsense.

(The kids loved me).

“Jack,” I asked nightly, “You going to stay for the second act?”

Oh, and I taught him early on the special hand-slap that Bob Cummings had with his Army buddy Harvey Helm on the 50’s tv show “Love That Bob”. Yeah, I created a monster. I can’t tell you how many times I entered the “green room” and found the myriad of pre-teen actors slapping each other around.

We closed Mothers Day. My distinct sense as I walked off stage was that I’d never pass that way again. River City Iowa…these friends specifically… would be missed.

Then the player: one of my favorites.

Letterman announced his retirement a year ago. It was a clock that kept ticking. Not for one moment of it was I happy. Had I not been loyal? Had I not read both books about the late night wars? Was I not repulsed always at the sight of that bottom-feeder Leno? Indeed, did I not, through my nineteen “single” years always consider a lady’s preference of Jay a deal-breaker?

When the news broke last summer I jumped on line, trying to score tickets for a taping. They were only reserving them a month in advance and what with the three shows I was doing this season, it just didn’t happen.

Carrie and I did the next best thing. Meticulously we taped his shows— so as not to miss one. “Inventory”, we dubbed it. ‘Twas not only the end of an era, but the loss of a friend.

This spring the inexorable march beat louder. Still, we laughed as the A-list parade stopped by…one last time. Crystal, Murray, Romano, Stern…

— And we learned how to chuckle with lumps in our throats—

Until the evening of May 20.

I was in Chicago that night, with the Bohrers. I’d be flying out the next day.

Sitting “Indian style” I was (Can we still say that?), four feet from the screen. Behind me lay Bones and his dad, sprawled on the couch. And The Little One, she was tiring too quickly.

For an hour or so I perched, until at one commercial I stood, and stood, and stood. Gripped by what I knew was my final look, I just never sat down.

“I’m going to bed Daddy,” Stacy announced, from the hall near the kitchen.

Standing, I walked to her, and hugged her good night.
“Why are you crying, Daddy?”
“I don’t like to say goodbye”, I told her.
“But I’ll see you in the morning. I’m taking you to O’Hare.”
“Not you, honey. David Letterman.”

       “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday….”


Monday, May 25th, 2015

Exhausted as I was from “The Music Man”’s run – nine shows in four weeks (a week off in the middle in which time I hit Chicago – and that having followed six weeks of five nights/rehearsal), New York was the perfect place to unwind:

Max, Eli, Meredith, Michael, and the rest of the whole fam damily! Respite.

Respite with agenda, I might add. Which is why I scheduled four days.

Touching bases and breaking bread can be an end to the means. Still, I wanted so much this trip to get to know Eli. At 1¾ years he is finding his stride and, absentee grandpa that I am, what with him walking now, beginning to talk now….it was just time.


There’s not a sweeter sound on earth than a toddler’s first splat of your name. “Poppa!” he exclaimed (perhaps without coaching). “Poppa”!

Like I said, he walks now (in five-step clumps, after which he steadies himself). And he climbs steps now (not that we don’t study each move). And he talks — here and there.

Delightfully following Max everywhere (not unlike, I should note, Hal, my brother, sixteen months my junior shadowed me lo those decades ago), he is reaching to a new level of life so endearing to watch.

Which brings me to the b’chor, Max Parker, still King Of The Castle.

(Ed. Note 1: Those who know me can attest that never do I shower people with pictures of my grandkids. Not my style. Far be it from me to be like some of these clowns that, when you see them thrust I-phones in your face saying “Have you seen Alissa’s this or Duncan’s that”? What I want to tell them is “Yeah, dipshit, you post on Facebook more than you flush the toilet”. Ah, but paragon of restraint that I am, I don’t).

Still: MY GRANDSON MAX has a vocabulary far transcending that of the typical four year-old. It’s hard not to brag. Others point to his even disposition and his smile. Me? I focus on his verbiage, his communication skills, his charm.

Ah, but I digress.

Eli Matthew Bogart is built like a third basemen. (This, as I look in the mirror, is a good thing). Moreover he has eyes wide open … bubbling … sparkling.

—And he was named for my mother. (Ed. Note 2: While I tend not to engage in the familial pre-natal baby-naming matrix, I can attest not a moment goes by that, seeing him I don’t image her). And not a visit passes that I don’t think of THAT, and well up.

It matters not whether we’re sitting in the Chappaqua Diner as he actively toys with pancakes, or whether it’s pre-bedtime and I’m perched reading Max, the toddler just sitting and watching…

Eli Matthew Bogart eyes the future and connects me to the past.

Could I go on a bit? Of course. Might I share about holding a two-month old Dillon in Scarsdale? (Jillian was there, but Matt had gone fishing). Could I ramble about Saturday night’s dinner with the adults (M, M, L, S, C, S — “No names, please”)? Of course. Might I even tell you how special it was that R and G stopped by? (Ed. Note 3: Gary Katz and I, of course, were brothers-in-arms, having served together separately at Ft. Sam Houston — and, after all, May 16 WAS Armed Forces Day).

Yes, I could go on and on, but I won’t. After all: I don’t want to be one of them…those people that brag on and on and flash pictures and all…

No…I’ll just stop here and smile.

(And think of my mother).


Thursday, May 21st, 2015

I cried when Jonathan Scott’s father blew a call behind the plate that cost us a ballgame. It was 1962 and nothing could hurt more.

And I winced when some putz came in high at the plate in a game down at Ferguson. (Think Rose into Fosse). Two decades older I was, yet Malkin driving me to Euclid General, two fractures within me — it killed.

Through the magic of all-too-real cinema I watched Gehrig waive goodbye, Ruth bid farewell, and “The Notebook” (twice).

Oh, and you know the last twenty minutes of “Field of Dreams” …where Kevin Costner tosses the ball around with Ray Liotta? A half-dozen times or more — don’t get me started!

And Jack,
And RFK,
And Dr. King.

I’ve watched Bobby cry for his dad and Ed weep for his mom …

I’ve told my mother HER mother died and my grandmother her SON died, and picked the caskets for each…

I saw my father on a slab in downtown Columbus and my mother in a box in Cleveland Heights.

And buried them both.

I’ve watched a son and two daughters skin the knees of their youth …

I’ve witnessed myself, fully grown, stumble in manhood…

And yet—

At 65…and a young 65 at that — a refreshingly immature 65 at that —
Nothing hurts as much as when my kids do.

And nothing soothes the pain as much as the return of their smiles.

(Not even a catch with Ray Kinsella).


Sunday, May 10th, 2015

       “…Once upon a time
       A girl with sunshine in her eyes
       Put her hand in mine
       And said she loved me so
       But that was once upon a time
       Very long ago…”

I remember walking her through parking lots … and how my paw would swallow her hand the way it now envelopes Lucy’s. Young and bright-eyed she was—blonde even —and always glowing.

When she played Little League the fathers would pitch to daughters. I recall too how I’d loft the sphere, aiming, anticipating her swing — trying feverishly to have the trajectory of the ball meet with her bat — and how she’d concentrate, focus, overachieve, hit it…

And glow.

       “…Once upon a time
       We’d talk of life, just one-on-one—
       Laughing through the tears. Oh, but we were young.
       But that was once upon a time
       And now the days are gone…”

In the tenth grade she boasted to me once that one of the cool upper classmen had cornered her for over an hour at a house party yet “didn’t try anything”.

“Don’t you know what was going on?” I asked her.
(She shrugged).
“He made a judgment call, that’s all,” I advised. “There were people in the other room and he figured nothing was going happen so he played the ‘nice guy’.”
“Do you think he’ll try something next time?”, she inquired.
“Bet on it, lady”.

       “…How the breeze ruffled up her hair
       How we always smiled because the other one was there.
       She was young and didn’t have a care
       Where did it go?”

College came and went, she breezed right through it. Law school too— same thing.

The day before the B.U. graduation Stacy’d missed her plane. With drama unfolding and our schedules upended, we sat through “About A Boy” in a Boston movie house. The film was mediocre but we giggled in the dark. She’d smuggled me some buttered popcorn, you see, but Michael caught on. “You two aren’t funny!” he exclaimed.

Ah, but funny or not, we were always connected

       “…Once upon a time
       The world was sweeter than we knew
       Everything was ours
       How happy we were then…”

I walked her down the aisle on a beach in Jamaica. An hour or so later on that moonlit night we danced, father and bride, to the old Carole King song “Now And Forever”. It was our anthem, and I believed in it.

It would be our last dance.

       “Cause that was once upon a time …
       And somehow once upon a time
       Never comes again….”

Strouse, Adams


Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

“…You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays…” 

                                     Professor H. Hill

Sometimes you just know.

It was 2012, mid-August or so. On an escalating basis my evenings filled with conversation and Carrie, and my mornings with ebullient calls to the Little One.

“Take your time Dad. You don’t have to see her every night.”
“Don’t worry. We’re taking it slow and steady.”

Ah, but sometimes you just know, and by November we shared a roof.

Some rolled their eyes at the speed; others were thrilled (or pretended). And then there was Dick, her brother, my college roommate, and a man who has had the distinct privilege of serving as an usher at both of our weddings…

“Well, B,” he waxed philosophic, “ I just pray it’ll be a safe landing for both of you.”

“…People fall in love in mysterious ways…”

Sometimes I marvel at the remarkable confluence of events requisite to my union with CJ.

When I was a kid I’d be talking with my father, saying something like “If this happens, then… — or what if …”. He had back then this saying he’d throw in my face to remind me how big “ifs” were. Reducing matters to the least common denominator the man would inevitably spit out “If my aunt had nuts she’d be my uncle”.


IF Howard Ross hadn’t urged the Nemos to see the “Happy Together” concert at Cain Park, I’d never have gone.

IF Dick Baskin hadn’t come to town that first week in July, the boys would not have had breakfast at Corky’s.

IF The Envelope Lady wasn’t already going when I’d asked her, I wouldn’t have been sitting on an unused ticket.

IF I hadn’t been seated across from Dick that morning, someone else might well have driven him back down Chagrin to his mother’s.

IF we weren’t in the car one-on-one, I’d never have had the opportunity or impulse to ask about his sister.

IF she’d have followed her first inclination, Carrie would never have come to the concert.

And indeed—

IF I’d have known it was a real date…well….

Ah, but that was thirty-some months ago, and as Brother Dick now sees, we are still in ascension. Still, when this August’s news hit, it was more of the same.  Many were thrilled; some but pretended; and others? Well, let’s just say not everyone was doing handstands.

Oh, and there’s been one other constant!  This beautiful creature — the one with the Ocean Eyes — she and I …

We just know.

— That there’s nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.
— That “we found love right where we are”.
— And that Yes, clearly, we are Happy Together.

“A love story as good (as ours) deserves a shot at a happy ending…”

Kate Beckett