Monday, October 13, 2008

Paul Newman Passing

I always liked Paul Newman films. We got to watch "Cool Hand Luke" in school in seventh grade after reading it as a play. He was indeed cool. Back in the seventies as a kid I rarely went to first run films, but we saw "The Sting" in the theatre. I didn't know what "running a con" meant and with the goofy clothes I thought I was in for some kind of mean Mary Poppins film. It was great.

I've seen "The Color of Money" recently and even though Tom Cruise grates on me, Newman is outstanding. I need to go back and re-watch "The Hustler". He aged well and was superb in "Nobody's Fool". If you see it again pay attention to when the snow blower is, and isn't, in the back of his pickup. I enjoy that continuity issue because I spotted it before being told about it. (I guess you can't do that now; sorry.)

I've also found buying his "Newman's Own" products satisfying; they're generally good quality and good tasting and you're doing good. But I also have felt a special connection to Paul Newman since the mid 80's because I had the chance to hang out with his daughter Melissa a couple of times. A friend met her when she was taking an art class, painting, at Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York one summer. I met her briefly then, but later in New York City she went out with us one evening when I was visiting that friend. He lived on Columbus Avenue, above 106th street in Spanish Harlem, in a 5th floor walk up apartment. That place was a tiny 3 bedroom for $1600 a month twenty some years ago. I guess if you wanted to be in Manhattan it was swell, with the 24 hour crap game on the curb next to a steel post with a few almost bald car tires and a sign that simply read "Flats Fixed". We walked a block and half to a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant and had a great evening hanging and chatting, basking in our youth. I'm sure Melissa Newman remembers me less than I remember her. She had long wavy hair and was friendly and unpretentious. And now I'm sorry for her loss; but still grateful for the connection.

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