Tag Archive: Life

R.I.P. Andrew, For Realz, This Time

andrew martinSo, I’m getting kind of a re-do here. I find myself writing a little tribute to my friend Andrew Martin, a eulogy of sorts. But I’m writing it for the second time. A decade after the first time. Andrew would appreciate this, with a certain level of dark humor that we shared.

It was the late 80s, early 90s. Andrew and I shared some of the same haunts – mostly cabaret spots, often ending up more or less closing out the bar together at Don’t Tell Mama in the West Village or Marie’s Crisis in the theater district. We were young. Younger anyway. I suppose I was in my early to mid 30s, he in his early to mid 20s. I was the food and wine writer for QSF Magazine. One day Andrew came to me with a proposal – he was launching a new publication centered around the cabaret scene, CaB magazine. He wanted to include some restaurant reviews each issue, along with other content that wasn’t necessarily cabaret related, but might be of interest to those reading it. He asked me if I’d write for him, and I did, issue after issue from June of ’92 until June of ’94.

Along the way, we became friends. We even dated a couple of times, but found that our attempts at romance tended to devolve into fits of hysterical laughter rather than steamy encounters. We left that part of our friendship to the wayside. And then one day, he announced that he needed a break, was going to stop publishing CaB, and get away for a little while. He had his demons, we all did. And he disappeared from my life.

And then he died. We had plenty of mutual friends at the time, and at least half a dozen of them told me that he’d passed away. It was always a little suspicious. An illness, an accident, no one seemed to know what had actually happened. But apparently he’d spent time somewhere, far from New York City, and was no longer with us, having gone to that big cabaret in the sky. I wrote a small note in memory of him on my website on the page with the index of the various articles I’d written for CaB. Now and again, mostly when I was revising something on the site, I’d think of him and wonder what the real story was.

A decade later, in late 2005, October 22nd to be exact, I woke up to find an email in my inbox from an Andrew Martin. My momentary thought was simply that it was a coincidence, it’s not exactly an uncommon sort of name. I clicked on it, and lo and behold, it was him. Not dead. He’d come across my little paean to his demise on my website and wanted to assure me that he was alive and well, living in New York, and participating with a comedy troupe, appropriately given the moment, named Meet the Mistake. I was thrilled. I had also just moved to Buenos Aires a few months before, and was not there to run over and give him a welcome back from the beyond hug.

But I did that just a few months later on a return visit. I went to one of his performances. I waited at the door, gave him a big hug, and a flower, which he assured me he’d place on his own gravesite. We went out for drinks, we caught up. And, though not by any stretch regularly, we kept in touch, an email exchange back and forth every couple of months. Then, a few years later, Facebook hit the scene. He was one of my first connections, and we took to commenting on each other’s trivial posts, and both being night owls, having the occasional late night chat when we found ourselves online at the same time. Not every day, not every week, maybe every 2-3 months. We flirted a bit – harmless flirtation, I’m happily married to Henry, and he was dating someone.

His mother passed away last year and we had a few more regular talks at night. Somewhere in there he went back to school, planning on a new career outside of the theater world. I had my upcoming 40th high school reunion (which was last weekend, I didn’t make it), he had his upcoming 30th, this coming weekend.

It wasn’t uncommon for a bit of time to pass without us talking. We were both busy. We lived in very different worlds, both geographically and the direction our passions had taken us. He often started chats with reminding me that he was still alive and kicking, usually involving some peculiar and humorous gag related to voices or visits from another realm.

And somehow, I missed it. He passed away the first week in June, a heart attack followed by a fall and head injury, found a day or two later. There were plenty of posts on his Facebook page about it, from his twin sister, and from friends, though none mutual, which might be why it didn’t burble to the top of my Facebook feed. Much has been written about him there, and tributes to him far more eloquent than my contribution may be in other spots. Sweet and charming when he wanted to be, a razor-tongued hellion when that was the direction called for, and funny, pretty much all the time.

Today would have been his birthday. 47, 48, I’m not sure which. It’s how I found out, when I went to his page to send him a message. All I can offer is a raised glass, a toast, a “Here’s looking at you kid”, for the second time, for real. Or as he would have said, “Love ya, babydoll.”


A January in My Life

A friend challenged me to take a short video every day and create a little “collage” for a month. It was an interesting project, not one I plan to continue, but it created a cute little video of three-second clips that’s probably of no interest to anyone but me of moments in my life, January 2016.


Whinging About Lateness

Amongst the many whinges of local expats (is that an oxymoron?) that has come to the fore recently is the subject of simply showing up. While not unique to Argentina, or perhaps specific to Porteños, showing up, at least on time, is not habitual. It is not uncommon to find yourself waiting at a restaurant table, or even holding dinner at home, hoping nothing cooks to a crisp or dries to shoe leather, while awaiting the arrival of one local or another. To show up at all is practically a benediction on your existence, to show up within an hour of planned time, a blessing, within two, an extension of courtesy. To not show up at all, merely standard practice. After all, perhaps something more interesting popped up at last moment – and to advise you of that would, of course, be insulting, so better to simply not make the effort, nor answer your phone, and then avoid contact for a week or two hoping that all will be forgotten, or at least forgiven.

As I noted, this is not unique to Argentina. In Rome, while showing up is considered appropriate, arriving at least an hour, perhaps two, late, is de rigeur. It’s also common practice to show up with extra people in tow – after all, if you run into friends on the street, how could you not invite them to join you at your dining destination – be it restaurant or private home. I’m convinced that this is the impetus behind Roman food all being served “family style” – i.e., platters and large bowls of food – the host simply never knows how many people will actually be joining them for a meal, and better to have large quantities and self-serve.

New Yorkers, likewise, have their foibles. Twenty plus years in the restaurant business in that town, and it still amazes me that it is considered, by many, a perfectly acceptable practice to make reservations at multiple restaurants for a given evening, make the decision as to which to dine in at the ultimate moment, and not bother to advise the others of a change in your intentions. Most restaurants deal with large numbers of “no-shows”, and just accept it as part of doing business – the benefit for those “in the know” is that it’s often easier to score a table at a hard to book restaurant by simply showing up rather than trying to reserve in advance. While less common, I’ve encountered the same in private social plans, with people who accept invitations to more than one engagement, on the same day, and decide which one is most interesting when the moment arrives. It’s rare that they bother to notify the hosts of the other parties or dinners – or, if they do, it is with vague or patently phony excuses that everyone recognizes as a borderline polite way of saying “someone else is throwing a more exciting shindig than you.”

The whinging going on within the expat population here makes it clear that among the American folk, in particular, though many of the Brits are chiming in, that these cultural differences are not to be tolerated. After all, they’re down here, supporting the Argentine economy, with all those trust fund dollars, pounds, even euros, and why should they have to accept the cultural viewpoint of this country. I mean, after all, where would Argentina be, how would the locals survive, if it were not for the profligate spending in clubs and restaurants of these self-absorbed, spoiled, wankers? To use a British turn of phrase…

Mañana, if not later. There’s a rhythm to life here that’s not based on something that for me is pretty much an ingrained priority – pride in achievement and accomplishment, whether it’s in work or play. With that as a base, in the norteamericano culture, we find ourselves driven to constantly do things, try harder, give it one more shot… No question it leads to the common admonision to “stop and smell the roses”, and after a good amount of time here, there’s no question I’ve re-evaluated the level of importance of some of that stuff. Especially when put up against family and friends. Not that I didn’t have time for family and friends back in the States, but I have to face it, they were something scheduled into my days. Of course, working fulltime restaurant hours demands a huge amount of time, and I don’t have that to deal with here. But, the reverse can also be true, and the mañana idea can be carried to far extremes, and it seems to lead to a lackidaisical attitude that’s the equivalent of a shrug.

Why study when you know the teacher may or may not show up to teach class? When the same teacher doesn’t care if your homework is done now or turned in a month or two after the course is finished. After all, you’re going to pass – they can’t fail you, it would lower your self esteem, and that’s simply not permitted. Now, from my perspective, not having to accomplish anything is a surefire way of lowering self esteem… far more than getting a failing grade. But that’s the culture I was brought up in, where the idea of responsibility for actions actually exists.