I had a great birthday last week, and I can't not blog about. The Tiny Goddess outdid herself, making a fantastic time for me. I'm fairly indifferent to birthdays, but this was significant number, and she wanted to do something special. Well, she did.
She rented a house in Palm Springs, and we had a long, lovely weekend in the desert with my grandson Calder and his parents. (My daughter – the Flower – was out of the country, pursuing a dream. I missed her but know that she was doing the right thing, even if she missed my birthday party. I mean – I'm not eight years old.)
The house was very nice, with a pool and hot tub and more than 100 palm trees on a half-acre so it was extremely private and lush. There was plenty of places for Calder to explore and plenty of things to keep him from getting into (cactus, pool). But we had him outnumbered – four adults to his one-year-old self – so it was about a draw.
Someone said that grandparenting is one of the few things in life that is not overrated, and that might very well be true. I'm having a wonderful time with Calder. I'm sure I would love any grandchild of mine, but he is particularly cute and smart and loving and alert. As his mother says, "He's a good companion." He draws attention wherever we go. So I had lots of time with him this long weekend: following him around (because he's very active and exploratory), reading to him, playing with him, identifying the things he points to, reciting old nursery rhymes, tickling him, whatever I can think of to amuse him and keep him happy and safe.
We also went up Mount San Jacinto in the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in its 360-degree, revolving gondola (the only one in the Western hemisphere) from the warmth of Coachella Valley floor and its 70+ temperature to the snow flurries and ice at the top.
I got some nice presents (the weekend in Palm Springs being the main one), but the best other one was a video that the TG made for me in which my friends and relatives sent me very generous birthday wishes (poems! jokes! raps!) She got 42 people to contribute. I didn't think I knew 42 people!! I think of myself spending my life in my office, alone, writing, but I guess I've had a life out there, and some people like me. The video was wonderful, with a soundtrack of Van Morrison, the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Nash, and the Spinners. She got a friend of the Flower's to help with the editing and made three passes at it. You can take the girl out of the Industry, but you can't take the Industry out of the girl. The video was a real "George Bailey" moment for me.
I also got a few art books I'd been wanting, a great, framed photo of the TG in Cuba, an object d'art of fake greenbacks by Josh Callahan called Money, and, last but not least, an extremely witty signed letter by one of my writing idols – Saul Bellow -- to add to the collection.
I couldn't be a luckier man. And now, back to work, to justify and redeem all this luck, this promise.
Here's the soundtrack from my video --
Dancing In the Dark – the Boss dances with his mother Adele – from Olympic Park in London on June 30, 2013 – pro-shot
Van Morrison – a killer live "Domino" – from German TV – Rockpalast, 1974
Johnny Nash – "I Can See Clearly Now" – live and rare
Van Morrison – "Bright Side of the Road" – another sizzler from Rockpalast
The Spinners – "I'll Be Around" – lip-syncing on "Soul Train"
Van Morrison – "Moondance" – live in Belfast, official video – with Katie Kissoon on back-up
George Harrison – a live "Here Comes the Sun" – rare and lovely, with Pete Ham from Badfinger on second guitar
37 seconds of the famous "All You Need Is Love" worldwide satellite broadcast – all that Apple allows on YouTube