My Hero (at times)

I went to a concert  at Union Hall in Park Slope the other night.  As is very often the case, I was probably the oldest person in the room.  I don’t know if this is because most of my peers  are dead or there’s something awfully good on TV-all the time. I don’t like this kind of ‘specialness’….but I love live music so I continue to go to these events.  This, in spite of my sense that there’s a movement afoot in NYC to keep me out of these venues.  It seems that fewer and fewer places have seating at these concerts…it’s standing only.  You don’t have to be a genius to see what’s going on here.  It’s obvious that the promoters are trying to legally discriminate and keep the crowd young….at least way younger than I am.   But, as I say, I love going to these things and I’m in good enough shape to stand for a few hours.

As the concert went on I began to hear a few (young-what else) women talking rather loudly near the bar area.  It was pretty annoying but since I’m not totally familiar with the ground rules of these clubs, I wasn’t sure that it wasn’t de rigueur(it’s been some time between foreign phrases-no?) for these places.  I looked around to see if anyone else was bothered as much as I was (no one ever is) but couldn’t pick up any vibes.  Finally, it got to be too much for me.  Unfortunately, I  didn’t have my “Pardon me,  you probably don’t realize it” deck of cards with me (these can be puchased on-line at so I knew this was going to be tough.  How was  I going to ask them to be quiet without coming across as a scolding parent as opposed to just a jerky patron?  I steeled myself, walked over to them and asked them if they could “please keep it down'”.   Despite some strange looks as I walked away,  I think it went quite well. 

My father was the best I ever saw in these situations.  He was the man on the bus who would ask the ‘hoods’ to put out their cigarettes.   Or stop someone on the street who had casually  thrown their candy wrapper on the ground. Of course, it embarrassed me at the time but as I look back I have nothing but admiration for the way he handled those situations. He was just direct….with no animus whatsoever.  None of the internal conversations that plague me (often ending in “Keep your fuckin’ lawnmower”) seemed to be present for him.

Once, when we were in synagogue on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement…it doesn’t get any more serious than that), one of the congregants seated nearby was having an ongoing conversation with one of his neighbors while the Cantor was chanting a particularly mournful prayer.   This talking, in my father’s view, was a  violation of the somber mood  appropriate for the moment.    He leaned over to the offender and while gesturing towards the Cantor said, “is he bothering you?”


3 Responses to “My Hero (at times)”

  1. claudia Says:

    your dad was way cool. i would have left off the emphasis and mildly nquire in the most dulcet of tones, “excuse me, is he bothering you? ” everyone’s a critic. xox. by the way, remind me not to go to that venue with you where you were lucky the kids let you in.

  2. charn Says:

    i love your dad

  3. ed Says:

    As a cantor/leader of song in the Roman Catholic Church (& it’s never too late, you all!) may I applaud & thank your Dad & belatedly offer him my own shoe to throw at the ignorami next time! Ave Maria!

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