Jack Kerouac, Buckwheat, Tony “Two-Ton” Galento, Gianni Agnelli, Agent 99-Barbara Feldon, Salvatore “the Bull” Gravano, Liza Minnelli, Mitt Romney, Darryl Strawberry, Jon (Timmy of Lassie) Provost, Marlon Jackson, John Andretti…
…add my cousin — who won’t cop to being related to me — Joseph. (He always had this Anglo Saxon family side vs the Irish side thing…and to make the point visually, he never took that black ash dot off his forehead — all year long it was there. I just think he just really didn’t want me to tell anyone he knew me. And I knew that his brother ran guns to the IRA out of his florist business. Explain that to anyone, let alone the cousins with the big eagle-encrusted agency rings in the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, CIA. But I really think he was more sensitive about having the florist thing in the family rather than the IRA thing.)
Also list my late uncle, Gordon Dunning, CMDR, USN, and James Taylor and what do we learn, kids?
That we all have the same birthday.
It was a March 12th afternoon after a Norman Seeff photo shoot for one of the two album covers we created for James, all totally wrangled by Grammy-winning producer, Russ Titleman.
In their big Tudor house, James turned to Carly and me and said, “Happy one more birthday to us,” chugged down a Heinekin, and with a burp and a satisfied smile said, “Nothing takes the edge off like beer and a Valium.” Hmm. I never thought of James Taylor as edgy.
I thought about what Carly said and asked myself, how could anyone say “no” to that, especially coming from her. So I did it. Cut it all off. Right there in Sweet Baby James’ Beverly Hills bathroom, singing to myself, “You’re so vain…”
Not much later, on location at a classic period hacienda right in the best of the old L.A. left from the days of Cecil B. DeMille – Los Feliz – at another shoot for the marketing campaign of “Zorro, the Gay Blade,” I took my picture with George Hamilton. (I think I took all these photos with celebrities for the wall of the eventual pizza take-out or barbershop or Hollywood dry cleaners I would own.)
Looking at that picture I took of George and me by holding the camera in our noses, I realized George is a really good sport and that this was the first time I had seen my beardless face in a photograph. This is why he is the movie star, I thought. He actually looks like one.
With Superman speed, grabbing my Sharpie before anyone found the evidence of my facial nudity, I quickly retouched the picture to make my naked face more dashing…like Zorro.
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I read Spirits in the Sky and Happy Birthday to Us today, in your honor. Amazing prose, detailed experiences and a wonderful life well lived—cheers! Best, Eric P.
Happy Birthday, Mike. The blog is great. Bob G.
Oh, not “you probably think this song is about you”? Ha ha! Happy Birthday! Jill B.