Almost Famous or Six Degrees of Separation of Fame, an Original Feature by Marcy Goldman, (see Arcade Fire Cake too)
Russell Crowe, Nathan Lane, KD Lang, and more folks...Who is the connective thread in all this? Me. Oh and don't forget to check out . It is the cake, inspired by Arcade Fire, the Indie band that is hotter than ...hot cake. www.ArcadeFire.com.
I have this theory of fame that is not unlike the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Of course, I hear six degrees and I think oven temperature and I hear ‘bacon’ and I am thinking food but then, that is me – chef/writer. But the notion that we are all within six contacts or degrees of another person, often famous, connected by human/social strings is very true in my case. I added up all the celebrities I met recently and it was quite a list. Fame follows me or I follow….fame. It started with….
It is around 1975 or so. I was on a beach in
And then one day, about a year or so after that, I was walking on a cold, New Year’s Day on ice-bound, snowy
Or that time I went to my dad’s store to surprise him and instead, found Harry Belafonte buying a slew of suits. It was my birthday and Harry joked with my dad and made him give me $10 as a birthday present. It was actually, an odd moment between two men – not particularly a great moment for the dynamics was askew. And yes, you are probably thinking – Harry Belafonte is one of the finest singers ever and you would be right but the truth is, my dad made the finest suits you could find in any city. So, that’s more about what I remember about that Almost Famous moment.
Or the time I bumped into KD Lang, out early (again) one morning a few years ago, when the Montreal Jazz Fest was on then there was that funny fellow I met when we both landed at Montreal airport on my way home from a chocolate exhibit in New York. I never drink - I am a strict teetotaler but on planes, because I am phobic of flying, I do. What happens is that I stumble off planes, waddle through customs and often, randomly call someone (usually male) and declare undying (and untrue) love to them. Once, it was my dry cleaners, Ari, and only because the only number in my pocket handy was the dry cleaner pink receipt for my chef's jacket. Once I make such calls, I proceed to talk to whoever is nearby as I chill down with copious cups of coffee. This time, again, I bumped into an American and had a welcome to
And it’s not as if I haven’t paid to see celebrities perform either – like Sammy Davis Jr, Bob Hope and Freddy Printz (yes, on the same bill), the late John Ritter and his first wife performing in Cape Cod Playhouse, or Mandy Patinkin when he performed here are few years ago. Oh, but there you go again. I saw Mandy and guess what –turns out he also has a son called Gideon (5 degrees of separation). Then, I start my website. A woman writes me and asks for an obscure Jewish pastry even I never heard of. We chat by email; become penpals. She sends me her rugulah recipe. She is lovely. Her name is Patinkin. Dora, actually. I say to Dora in one of our emails, funny thing – the only other Patinkin I know is Mandy, the singer. Dora says, me too. He’s my son. And oy, he is traveling so much now, I worry for him. (Now that’s 4 degrees of separation).
Two summers ago, I was walking in Old Montreal. A handsome, rugged man stumbled out of a building looking almost Francophone Montreal but with this swagger. I realize I know him. I have one of his books and we both share the same publisher, Random House (4 degrees of separation).I congratulate him on his new book. It is rather good for an actor. Ok, it is rather good, for anyone to author anything. We talk about writing, publishing and Random’s publicity department. We shake hands and wish each other continued success in authordom. A few months later I read how his marriage broke up and he had been with some pretty thing in
Then Janis Ian emailed me – she talked about her grandmother being a great Jewish baker; I admired her music. Kenny Loggins wrote me supportive words when I left my marriage and Russell Crowe wrote – when I thanked him for helping to rebuild the synagogue library in
I don’t count Julia Child, Jacques Pepins, Rose Levy Bernanbaum, Charlie Trotter, Bonnie Stern, Nigella Lawson, nor Paul McCartny’s first wife (a cake person of note in
Which brings me to the last two references but first, my take on all this. I don’t know why I meet so many celebrities. And fame never beguiled me. Real folks do. People seemed surprised when I answer my own mail. I never want to be that renown I can’t do that. When people ask when I will be on Oprah, I still think – bless Oprah but maybe, one day, she will be on my show or in my book or film. And as for the celebrities I met, I think we all might think in terms of – who has met us, instead. Turn it around. True celebrity is inner sense of self.
Be that as it may……Last summer, I advertised two old pianos on Craigslist. The first person to call and was quite intrigued was a young man called Will, who was in
Next day, he showed up; told me he had a mover hired and we just needed to wait about 30 minutes for him to arrive. I plied Will with fresh challah and honey (it was Friday afternoon) and brownies and packed up a box of warm chocolate chip cookies as he revealed it was his sister’s birthday that night. We chatted, I baked and his piano mover showed up. Who was it? My own piano mover and tuner, Horut, who is a fun loving Armenian who also tangos a bit. (Remove necessary 2 degrees of separation).
We did a brief kitchen tango as we do when he moves/tunes/or otherwise visits whatever piano I have at the time; he moved Will’s piano and both of them were off. Later on, when I had a moment, I checked out Will’s band on iTunes and found his website. Arcade what? Fire
Which brings me back to Old
Celebrity in this age of disclosure and no boundaries is thinning out. Andy Warhol was right – we all get our 15 minutes or 15 clicks of fame. But in the end, what is fame on its own? What is renown? And what merits our attention?
But honestly? I would love to dine with anyone who had integrity, interesting stories, manners, vitality and was living life in full engagement. Because if I could have any special guests for dinner, and know the table would be bountiful in all the right ways, and void of empty calories of fame, I would invite the people I love and respect the most. I guess it would be, quite simply, and unequivocally, my three sons. Not almost famous. Wholly real.
Marcy Goldman 2007 (c)
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