This and That

Jeff Andrus 2
New look. Same old writer.

Blogs start on the home page with brief previews so that you don’t have to slog through something that doesn’t interest you although why anyone would want to do that is incomprehensible. The home page, to use a term from when I was spinning vinyl on the radio, also links to “Double A blasts from the past”—What’s So Bad about Wrath?, The Hun Revisited and I Explain God, Part 1. Just for me there’s a Love-Me-Because-I’m-Great bio page. A contact page follows. (Keep the hate mail coming, folks.) Finally, there are excerpts from my body of work, my corpus, my stuff, if you will...whose presumption should amuse you.
My friend Todd, with whom I once partnered in the making of The Proverb, kept after me to make the changes. He hates doing this kind of work, but without his expertise this site would look like a washed up actor’s gaming the Internet to sell Amway. Hard to imagine some bleary eyed, unshaved loser greeting the new day with a shot of Old Crow then writing with the style and grace of Yours Truly, but that’s the impression some people had of my old site. Maybe the picture of me at my computer in my bathrobe with mussed hair and a shot of... I swear it was orange juice.

Todd has just come back from relief work in Haiti. A contemplative hike on Pikes Peak had him slipping off the trail. Leg damaged and night falling, he would have died in a snow bank if it weren’t for his cell phone. Every Scout knows the lesson. Be prepared and follow the instructions on the back of the packet. And oh, never hike alone.

Other news of friends is bitter sweet and downright tragic.

Mark Young, writer/director of The Least Among You, has picked up Lionsgate as distributor. So easy. He started the project only fifteen short years ago.

Sylvan Markman died after a valiant struggle with cancer.

Struggle was what he knew best. His parents were killed in the Holocaust, and he lived out the Second World War incognito as the “son” of a Catholic couple in Belgium. Afterwards an aunt and uncle in New York adopted him. He attended college in Ohio and went to work for The Agency for the Performing Arts in New York City. His first APA assignment was to accompany Roger Williams on tour and make sure the pianist had a chicken sandwich waiting after every performance.

He went on to work for The Chisolm Group in New York City and Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angles, producing and directing television commercials. He was promoted to Vice-president and Executive Producer at DMB & B of L.A. His clients ranged from General Motors and Mattel Toys to California Avocados and the Australian Tourist Commission.

In other venues Sylvan produced a Stanley Cup Championship for NBC, was a CBS segment producer, and for PBS produced, directed and co-wrote of Beyond The Year 2000 . He has consulted for CBN in Virginia Beach, the Army at West Point, and back in L.A. was a segment producer on the Don Mischer special, The 50th Anniversary of ABC.

His marriage to the mystery writer Sophie Dunbar brought him to a book store where Sophie and I were scheduled for a joint signing. After she died, Sylvan got hold of me to partner on fourteen reality and dramatic series, for which we knocked on doors and gave pitches to a vast assortment of Hollywood cretins during a four-year stretch that forced me to realize my career was as dead as Marley’s ghost. But Sylvan soldiered on.

I left Los Angeles just as he was beginning to look starry eyed as he talked about Magdalena, a wise and wonderful lady born in Argentina. They married and did several videos together for Hispanic ministries in the Los Angeles area. She was with him, comforting, until the end.

Sylvan was always trying to teach me Yiddish phrases. Trying is the operative word. This is the best I can do, pal:

Ikh bin a hun shnitke.

Besides being a chicken sandwich, I’ve been laboring over an essay for months, tentatively titled Escape from California. I still have on the back burner Three Weeks in Another Town about my wife’s leaving me to face a winter of discontent all by myself. Well, part of a winter. Enough time to develop a boil on my heel that ballooned my foot to the size of one of Bozo the Clown’s shoes. This, while the Mrs. visited her ailing mother overseas. Sometimes I think women don’t care about anything but themselves.

Speaking of women, I attended the Empire Classic in Spokane—a body building, fitness and figure competition. Earlier, I had interviewed a contestant who said something that took a couple of months to explode into an ephinay. Discipline, my dears, discipline. If you’re a couch potatoe or think the world owes you a break, you won’t get the fact that the narrow way is the only way. Restricting choices to focus on a future goal, whether it be getting up early to excercise or to learn a new language, leads to freedom. The hard work is worth it, becomes a joy, if you love where you’re going.

That’s a big if.

So was the prospect of visiting a former girlfriend after nearly four decades of each of us not knowing what had happened to the other. In the morning we took my grandson to the park. Then we went to lunch. We left the restaurant when the dinner crowd began trickling in. Then we went back to my daughter’s to talk some more.

Her life was like listening to the audio of a best selling novel. Most of the time we have some contact with distant friends, if only an occasional phone call, and thus have landmarks to their lives. The filling-in doesn’t take more than hour or so. Take away any contact and you have non-stop conversation. I would have never guessed any of her accomplishments and trials, but the sense of humor I remembered was alive and well. Better yet, the stuff in my life that can get only a yawn from my wife and a, “Dad, that’s not funny,” from the kids, suddenly had a new audience. Appreciative, I hope, but hell, when it’s about me, as this site so often proves, I really don’t care.

Have to move again, so I probably won’t be back on line for another month. In the meantime catch a clear explaination of the National Debt and write if you get work.