Thursday, March 15, 2007

Old Man

Old man take a look at my life
I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that's true.
--Old Man, by Neil Young

I can't hear those words sung without thinking of Angel. I can still hear him singing those words across almost forty years in his Turkish accent.

Cincinnati, Ohio in the late sixties and early seventies. He was my best friend in high school. A Bulgarian born and raised in Istanbul he came to live with a distant uncle in Golf Manor, Ohio, one of the skeevy little towns scattered through what's called Greater Cincinnati to go to high school. His uncle worked with my dad at the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company. I was friends with his cousin.

Angel had what could only be called a lust for life. A passion that I felt, too, and because of which thought I was some kind of freak until he and I started talking in that way that best friends do. He made such a mark on my life that I don't think of him at least once a week, thinking how he might have done something, or something he might have said.

As an adult, he moved to San Francisco, opened a restaurant in Golden Gate Park, and started a successful real estate business with his wife, Priscilla. We'd see each other occasionally; I'd fly to SF on business. One night we sat in a divey restaurant in Chinatown, eating cheap bowls of noodle soup and talking about our favorite subject: Life. Another time I was visiting and Angel was driving around the city at night and he pulled into an alley. He said he had to check up on a building he owned. He unlocked a door, and we stepped into a flood of light where an orchestra sat. Food and wine was laid out on a nearby table. Angel owned the warehouse, and let the orchestra rehearse. We sat that night and ate and drank and listened to music, and it was just Angel's way of enjoying life. Other musicians who benefited from Angel's generosity was Kronos Quartet. They rented from him at one time, and as I understand the story he'd let them slide on the rent when they didn't have it. Later he served on their board.

Last fall Sue was in San Francisco and called me asking me for the name of his restaurant. I quickly Googled the name to get directions, and that's when I learned he had died three years ago of cancer.

Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed
Rolling home to you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi John
Was google-ing around on the computer tonight and connected to your site. That's a really nice piece about Angel. It was interesting to see your music list - a lot of it Angel liked as well. We went to see Lucinda Williams a couple of weeks before he died.

You might be interested to know that Kronos has commissioned Glenn Kotche - the drummer for Wilco - to wirte a piece in his memory. It will be performed by Kronos and Kotche as part of the SFJAZZ fall concert series - around October 23 or 24 I think. Glenn is a really great musician and has a couple of solo CD's out as well.

Anyway - I apologize for not keeping in tough. I can't remember when I talked to you last - but I have really been through the mill the last couple of months.

That it for the moment. Take care.
- P

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