Never Done: Was present for the first time Kathleen met Phil
Never Done: Went to the Highline Ballroom
Technically if I am there when someone else does something they have never done, it is also something I have never done, but I admit it's something of a stretch. But since I'm just a wee bit invested in all things Kathleen and Dana, I am going to count this one. Kathleen and Dana and Josh and I all met Dana's dad Phil for tea and coffee at the Tea Lounge. Three quarters of the times I have met Phil have been at the Tea Lounge (and the fourth was at a barbecue at Lois's house in Canarsie) so that wasn't new. It has always delighted me how Dana and Phil share a coffee on their dates, and since Dana gave up drinking coffee 10 weeks ago, they each got their own drinks, so that was new to me. But more importantly, it was the first time one of them met the other one's Important Biological Family Member. And I got to be there. It was actually really wonderful. I got to watch as Dana's dad slowly shifted his focus from the people he knew better over to Kathleen, and I could see Kathleen, by being her warm, and engaging self, helped the shift happen, and I could see how much Phil liked her. It was actually an amazing process to be present for.
Phil was telling us some stories about the neighborhood he grew up in, and he mentioned this smart kid named Joe Flom, who went to Townsend Harris High School (which is where my dad went, which fed directly into City College, which is the only reason he got a college education and became the scientist he became) and then (we are back to Joe) to Harvard Law. He went on to tell lots of old friends success stories, and at some point, Kathleen mentioned the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, which is about the fact that individual successful people tend to have gotten a particular kind of institutional support at a young age that helped them become successful. And then she started to wonder if Joe Flom had in fact been in Outliers. She looked him up on her Blackberry, and then I happened to have my iPad, on which I had read Outliers, and so I looked up Joe Flom in Outliers, and .... yes! An entire chapter! From which I read a few paragraphs. Really, how could Phil not love Kathleen???
From there, Josh and I left for a show I have been excited about since three months ago, when I bought tickets to see Dan Bern perform at the Highline Ballroom. This was a perfect Never Done/Tshuve event. I have seen Dan perform many times, although it's been years, but I have never been to the Highline. We got there early to get a good table (they often cover the dance floor with tables) but by the time we got there, there was already a line down the block. We fell in line, but I soon spotted Betsy, who I had just met for the first time earlier in the week, and went up to talk with her. Before long, she invited us to stand with her, and we agreed to share a table with her and her college roommate if it made more sense than getting two.
In the end, we shared more than a table. We shared coconut shrimp, and Scrabble, and stories. But most of all, we shared a love of Dan Bern's music, and it was very sweet to get to know them in this context. Now, I'd never heard Dan play with a band before, and I was skeptical. I wanted to hear Dan, not some band. But as it turned out, Common Rotation was fantastic: laid back instrumentals, melodic, and well-mixed. They weren't as interesting lyrically as Dan is (and careened precariously close to misogyny on one song) but once Dan came out on stage and Common Rotation backed him on his songs, it made for a perfect musical meld.
I am tempted to tell you his entire set list, but maybe all I need to do is tell you that I am tempted to do that, and that will tell you everything you really need to know about how I feel about Dan Bern. He's one of those song writers who writes songs that relate to our lives. If you're Jewish, or you love baseball, or have a sister (and love baseball) or you think about world politics and narrative storytelling, he writes songs for that will make you think more broadly and also feel more deeply, which is the whole point of art, right?