Friday, November 21, 2008

the old man...

...it's his birthday today. If he was still around he'd probably want to go see a movie. Is there anything with Meryl Streep or Bill Murray playing right now?

He died in 1993. When he was alive he'd sometimes drive me nuts, inspiring me to intone, "My dad, wrong or wrong!" And I unfortunately seem to have inherited his temper. I'm working on that. But I also inherited his sense of humor, movie buff-ness, interest in art, science and history, and a penchant for getting into a particular subject and then wanting to read everything about it. With me right now, it's the world of Eleanor of Aquitaine. My dad, at different times, had Virginia Woolf, Thomas Jefferson, Cripple Creek, Colorado and the poetry of Wallace Stevens as his enthusiasms, to name a few. We all, if we were listening, learned along with him, because along with the temper there comes a genetic tendency to pontificate, or as we call it in our family, breathe.

And did I mention the Yankees? We were indoctrinated an early age, much like my dad must have been by his dad. My dad's favorite Yankee when he was a kid was Joe DiMaggio, natch. I probably did so well in geometry in high school (the only math I did well) because I had been scoring and watching baseball with the old man for years. Think about it.

Another important fact about my dad was that he was a newspaperman. I don't say journalist, because that term has become meaningless. Dad was a political reporter for various Jersey papers including the Newark News and The Daily Observer, until he had his own weekly, The Hometown News. I remember watching a convention on TV with him, and trying to draw caricatures of some of the politicians. I was actually emulating my artist mom, whose caricature of my dad was used for his column in the Observer. He always presented an unbiased opinion in his pieces, which would sometimes drive the local politicians who befriended him crazy, as they weren't sure if he was a Republican or Democrat. He stuck to that principle at least once, by not voting in a primary, so he didn't have to declare his party and just voted in the general election. I realize now that I'm not sure, but I just assumed, that he was a registered Independent.

What would my dad think of the news media today and the imminent death of print (at least newspapers and magazines)? He'd probably be horrified as we all are at the level of competency displayed by today's "journalists." But the scientist in him would be fascinated by the internet and how news and politics have changed with the ever-growing computer culture. He'd be pretty jazzed about the election as well, and Obama, although like me, he might say, maybe now the Italian-Americans will get a chance! I hope he'd be happy to see that his daughter is political and articulate (sometimes) and interested in the world around her.

Happy birthday, pop. xoxoxo e

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