In this episode of the Daedalus Howell Show, we go back to school – or at least I do – literally. As a freshman in 1986, French and drama teacher Madame Wadsworth suspended me for a bawdy stage production of Dr. Strangelove. 20 years later, I reunited with (as we affectionately referred to her) “The Wad” to chat about the aftermath. Also, I try to track down actor Keith Gordon who Starred opposite Rodney Dangerfield in the comedy flick Back to School, only to learn he directed a film based on a novel by mine and author pal Eric Spitznagel’s hero Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (producer Alex Freeman assists).[audio:dhs015.mp3]
“The devil is in the details,” they say. A close variant I most recently heard in an OK Go tune suggests “the demon is in the design.” I once witnessed the rather ungainly “the Prince of Darkness is in the planning” tumble from the gob of someone just trying to be difficult; ditto the self-sabotaging lass who said she put the “imp in implementation” when interviewing for a job she didn’t get.
As reported last week, the devil himself was in Sonoma recruiting flaks for his bedeviled public relations department. I turned him down. I always do, there’s nothing more satisfying than frustrating the cloven one. Instead, stay tuned in the coming weeks as I deepen my association with the Sonoma Valley Sun, an agent of all that’s right and good with the Valley, the weekly herald of fine times and better living (my own evil penchants notwithstanding).
You see, I was in the market for a regular gig seeing as the Contessa and I are getting hitched on Saturday (finally!) – a day of decadence and delicacies that, despite the generosity of our family and friends, still has our creditors licking their chops. We ignored the advice of our financial planner (“Elope!”) and are instead doing our own spin on the fabled “Wine Country wedding.” In the process, we’ve learned that “getting married” and “being married” are two distinct phenomena. More than merely a “before and after” switch-up in the legal status of our relationship, it’s become clear that weddings allow you a fresh start, literally, at zero or even less as the case may be.
But it’s going to be bloody wonderful. In the old days we would have to spend our honeymoon in debtor’s prison, but thanks to the advent of credit cards, we’ve upgraded to Avila Beach, Big Sur and some local respites throughout Sonoma County.
Do the notions of “new wife” plus “new job” equal “new me?” Not necessarily, but it certainly refines the premise. A pal once said that I pretended to be a writer until I was one. Perhaps the same holds true for coming of age (at 34 no less!). Do we pretend to be grownups until we become them? Or are we all still faking it? And in the Neverland that is Sonoma, does it even matter?
The “read-me” file of the “public vice, private virtue” persona your Humble Scribe downloaded those long years ago clearly states “not recommended for use at weddings and funerals” – particularly one’s own, I surmised.
Though it would be sassy to arrive fashionably late to my own funeral (due more to procrastination than social jockeying, I foretell), it’s a crime against romance to be late to the altar. To wit, if you see me gallivanting with a horde of groomsmen in the vicinity of downtown, making my way to the wedding site adorned in an ascot and a chest full of medals, please well-wish (if you’re so inclined) with “Onward, Mr. Howell!” to keep me on task. Also, autographs tend to slow me up because my name is so damn hard to spell, so please refrain for the time being.
On this note, permit me to apologize to the other local reporter upon whose notebook I inked my John Hancock while at the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction Weekend. Honestly, you were just standing there, pen in hand, making furtive glances at me – what was I to think? I for one seldom extract the notebook from my coat pocket, especially at wine events, since it makes toting a glass so unwieldy.
To that end, I’ll likely not take notes at my wedding. In certain circumstances, a pen is hopeless to capture, as Proust said, “That translucent alabaster of our memories.”
Ladies and Gents —
When we were pre-fab and livin’ as The Lids, our homemade (and gloriously dodgey) folk cabaret act, one of our numbers was a pithy ditty dubbed Desert Safari (an ersatz ode to the Empire in the key of “pith helmet” in G&T time). Life-long chum Orion Letizi and I wrote the bit in a fit of post-Python pique, which was endemic among we adolescent troubadours of the late 80s. At the time, Letizi was stationed in Tujunga answering phones for the WB. I was on-leave from Lumaville and impressed that, at 17, the flight attendants served me canned Coors and lit my smokes on my first (unaccompanied) sojourn south. Twice that lifetime later, I have finally produced a typed record of the breathless monologue I would orate in lieu of a proper bridge mid-song. It goes as follows:
Dearest Margaret –
It’s been weeks in the desert now and we have yet to find the Sacred Brass Monkey Skull of Pollimonpari. The desperation of our search has reached manically mammoth proportions and the elephants are none to happy either. R-R-Regret to say that Punjab, our fearless guide and faithful friend was devoured last night by a swarm of syphilic and underfed and malnourished locusts that escaped from a local entomologists’ onvention near the Ritz Carlton in Cairo where we happened to dine with none other than the famed Hans Kipling Libido. I had an entire bottle of Pop’s Red Eye — Jon had an Ovaltine. I’m on a desert safari…