Monday, August 18, 2008

me and the two Johns

So... there I was today in the afternoon heat doing my usual schmooze on the corner of the street where I live. I always hook up with one man named John and we talk about old Chelsea and times gone by. Today, his neighbor, also named John, joined us in the schmooze. We talked about how in so many ways the neighborhood changed through the decades. When the first John mentioned that I do stand-up, the second John said so does his nephew, Andy. It sure is a small world.
But what fascinated me most was John's brother-in-law, Morris Engel. "Little Fugitive" had me from the time I saw it on The Early Show. "Joey, a young boy, runs away to Coney Island after he is tricked into believing he has killed his older brother..." The film was made by Morris Engel in 1953. It is a classic. John told me that his brother-in-law is now recognized as a pioneer of independent films and that MOMA did a retrospective of his work. Morris's wife, Ruth Orkin, was also quite a talent and she appeared in several films and is the photographer of "American Girl in Italy, 1951."
I love the past. How many people even know who Long John Nebel was? How many remember the Les Crane show? Who remembers voting for "Miss Rheingold?" Many "Baby Boomers" will have a hard time aging as nostalgia and longing for a world gone by gnaws at the corners of their mind. But, when you find two Johns who can recognize the references and join you in the memories.... it is the day's brass ring.

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