Happy Birthday to Everyone Born in 1947

October 31, 2021

Yesterday afternoon and evening I threw a closing reception for Linda’s exhibition of paintings on the third floor of the Loft in San Pedro. The event also served as a birthday party for me. I had not hosted a birthday party for many, many years. My 70th birthday, in fact, hardly registered as anything more than just another vaporous increment in a life that constantly surprises me with its resilient prolongation. I decided that there wasn’t much point in putting off a formal gathering much longer, and so I sent out invitations.

This time, though, I had a motive beyond self-glorification. I wanted to attract people to the Loft to see Linda’s paintings, and a birthday party seemed to be the best possible lure. I hired a neighbor, Jana, to cater the event, which featured some of the best vegetarian chile that even the meat-eaters said made them want second helpings. I also commissioned another birthday from Stephany, who works at Gusto Bakery in Long Beach, and arranged for a “surprise guest,” the comedian Rachele Friedland to perform.

Guests arrived in two waves. The first batch showed up between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and included Alexis Rhone Fancher and her spouse, Jim, as well as Logan Esdale and Laura, and Laurel Ann Bogen and a poet friend, Marie Chambers, who also provided some astute art advice. Family relations showed up, too: my brother-in-law, Vince and his friend Marcie, arrived early. Fred Voss and Joan Jobe Smith took in Linda’s paintings, too, while the party was getting underway. The bulk of the guests showed up starting in the late afternoon: Anthony Seidman, Nylsa Martinez, Harley Lond, Paul Vangelisti, Will Slattery, Tommy Thomas, Jonathan Yungkans, Suzanne Allen, Peggy Dobreer, David Diaz, A.J. Urquidi, Marie Thibault, Rene Trevino, Neil Hultgren, and Karen and Dan Loveless, both of who drove all the way from Thousand Oaks! A neighbor who lives a block away showed up, too, and so did his companion. Several of those I’ve just named also brought along companions to fill out the studio space for Rachele’s performance. A fair number of people sent regrets at having come down with a cold, but at least we are beginning to return to the old days of the garden-variety viruses. Old age has its impediments, I am quickly learning. Afterwards, I thought to myself of at least a half-dozen people to whom I thought I had thought I had sent invitations, but didn’t have time to follow up on when I didn’t hear back. Perhaps I had somehow slipped up and never gotten one off to them in the first place? If so, forgive me.

Rachele Friendland gave a wonderful performance in which she blended some of the material that is at the core of her performance with some new lines. The final two minutes were especially acute in being both funny and poignantly rueful.

Since the paintings Linda showed were too large to negotiate the Loft’s staircase landings, we used the hydraulic elevator earlier this afternoon to haul her paintings back to the studio space on the second floor. I want to thank everyone who made this event possible and I’m sorry that I didn’t have enough time to talk with each of you individually.

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