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As a freelance writer, I tell a lot of stories. Many of the stories I tell are about my life, because as far as writing goes, they are the ones that require the least amount of research. Also, the accuracy can’t be beat as I was the one who had the experiences, and I’m not writing the story through someone else’s eyes.
I was talking to someone at a bookstore the other day. Angie and I went in to look at the books that were marked down to clearance prices. We decided upon two books, both of which retailed for about $40 US, but were marked down to the unbelievable price of $5.99! One of the two books happened to be a complete collection of poetry and writing by Alan Ginsberg, the other, a complete compilation of works by Edgar Allen Poe. Sadly, poetry and the arts in general are underappreciated in this country, especially among young people like myself and Angie. The cashier asked what made us decide to buy these particular books.
I explained to the cashier at the store that as a younger man, I had met Alan Ginsberg. She looked down as the cash register in disbelief as if to say that I was lying. But the fact of the matter remains that I didn’t just meet Alan Ginsberg on one occasion, I knew him personally as a friend of the family. If the layperson isn’t going to believe me when I say that I’ve met someone famous who changed the world through their written word, they’re never going to believe me when I tell them that I knew someone of the same accomplishments. But I did. It didn’t matter; she would never believe it in a million years.
Believe it or not, it doesn’t stop there. I also knew Charles Kuralt, the host of CBS’ Sunday Morning. He lived directly across the street from me when I lived in New York City. He would even stop in from time to time for a drink with my father after the morning show. I remember him being a very nice friendly person who had a million stories to tell and no one to tell them to. On his show, he would talk about the flowers and the garden in his neighborhood; he was of course, referring to the garden my mom had planted in front of our house, or at least that is what he told me when he came to sit and talk with my dad for hours at a time.
I can remember one time when I was just 7 or 8 years old going into a very fancy hotel ballroom with beautiful polished floors, walls, and columns made of marble. It was nothing but very wealthy business men in suits enjoying cocktails and eating little hordurves on silver trays that were carried by young men in white tuxedos. I felt really out of place going in there, especially when a very tall man at the door announced my fathers entrance… “we welcome to the club a Dr. Harvey Slatin.”
Some years later, The New Yorker Magazine called us for an interview. They asked about our personal relationships with well known celebrities (apparently, my father knew many famous people, the likes of which include Woody Allen and Harry Belafonte). I’m sure he knows many more influential and interesting people and celebrities. My father (“Arnold”) took precedence in the article as the main character, told by a nosy writer who used to occupy an apartment with a window that shared the courtyard behind our house. My old house had huge floor-to ceiling sliding glass doors in the back, so apparently this lady got a really good view of all the action. According to the article, the writer used to watch my father out of her apartment window; I’m not exactly sure why she did, but she apparently got a tremendous amount of entertainment from doing so. His late wife (Yeffe Kimball) is mentioned as always being gone on trips and towards the middle of the article, my mom is mentioned, and then of course, me.
Again, sadly, the names were all changed to protect our identity, and I’m a little sad because I would have really enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame, and some added traffic to my blog. Add that to the fact that nobody I know believes any of this, but believe me, it’s true.
Can you believe they actually changed my dads name from Harvey to Arnold?