Tonawanda News — Sometimes we overdose on the quadrennial attention paid to things like televised biathlon, and the activity of riding a lunch tray down a ramp with a 600 foot drop in elevation, in whatever that sport is called, skeleton. Yeah, skeleton.
So I go to my voluminous e-mail pile, to see what my friends admit to doing, and note I’m being invited to things, like art gallery openings and CD debut parties.
I am Exhibit A in that old aphorism about not judging it by its cover. Age 63, white, male, lumpy, built for sitting on a couch, that’s me. Shabby but clean is what I aspire to (I’ve given up on anything of a higher sartorial aspiration), when I dress up. Take one look at me and assume all I can do is spout opinion on the Sabres, beer and more about the Sabres.
And yet — a friend invited me to her gallery opening of photography and print-making. She’s taking over an Allentown restaurant for a night and she wants me there.
Two weeks ago I was in a party of seven at a recital of avant garde poetry and dance in UB’s Black Box Theater, and next month I seem to be going to a CD release party. The chanteuse, a renowned local jazz singer, cut an album, or whatever they call it these days, and wants me there to help celebrate.
The take-away? Women want me. Not to clean their gutters, to share their artistic triumphs. At places where drinking is encouraged. And I’ll meet their friends, and egad, their friends will meet me.
This heady schedule accompanies a calendar full of appointments, not in doctors’ offices but in local concert halls, galleries and restaurants. I expected to be, by this age, one of those overweight guys in a plaid shirt, wandering around in a room paneled in pine and offering miscellaneous sotto voce gripes about personal health, the state of the world and what’s wrong with young people. Hasn’t happened yet.
(I remain relatively healthy, the world encourages me and the younger ones I meet tend to be focused, smart and generally terrific people and if you feel differently, old-timer, you’re running with the wrong young people.)
The gallery opening, the CD release party, is something like a debutante ball for the artistically inclined. You created something, so you’re showing it off to your friends, a self-thrown event at which you’re the star. Your guests need not buy anything unless they choose to, and the singer is expected to get up and belt a few out, but it’s a beautiful thing.
A while back I attended one at which the artist, a local composer and saxophone player, spent the whole event doing that modern move of welcome — shake hands with a person, then move in for a semi-hug, thump the other’s back with the left hand — all evening. And yes, he played, but not until the clock hit eleven and the room in the Hertel Avenue restaurant was full.
There are milieus where people care, typically to my detriment, about how old or young a person is, or how rich or well-connected he or she seems to be (I’ve been in those crowds, too). The Western New York creative community seems not to be that way.
Needless to say, it’s not perfect, but boy, is it supportive. An argument can be cogently made that it’s the artists who are pushing Buffalo’s latest version of a renaissance; visit Larkin Square or Silo City and note it’s the arts crowd propelling the use and awareness of these reclaimed industrial spaces (and if you’re not familiar with those names, they are among the formerly derelict buildings now being polished like jewels and put back to use).
So there. I should be browsing through pamphlets for nursing homes and cemetery plots. Instead I’m partying, as an invited guest of artists. I wonder how things turned out for my high school guidance counselor.
Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears weekly in the Record-Advertiser. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.