My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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catch up

Sunday morning. On a plane above Amurrica’s western plains, headin’ for the City of Angels. A quick review of the past few days in fabulous Austin, which is surely the hippie capital of North America – I kept thinking I was back in 1968, so much long hair, fringe, hash pipes, beads. And music music music everywhere, great food and the most relaxed people on earth – a peaceful vibe. Happily, some pro-Obama and peace stickers on cars. A wonderful place to be.

The weather was difficult for awhile there, on Thursday morning so cold I wore my coat and Lynn, who had given all her cool weather gear to her husband to take back to France, couldn’t go out till it warmed up. Instead we went for lunch at a drugstore near her place, unchanged since 1952, a long winding counter and delicious burgers and fries. We got the bus to South Congress, a long strip of shops, bars and restaurants – again, so much vintage! A shop called “Uncommon Objects” – amazing, packed with great old stuff. After much poking about, including a long stop at Allen’s famous boot store with a million cowboy boots, we stopped at Gueros for a margarita, my first in many years, divine, outside at a picnic table while listening to The Fabs, a bunch of old-timers playing groovy rock and roll. Then we made our way back to the great record store Waterloo to listen to another band’s CD launch, this one three girls and a guy drummer, called Bleached. The name should have warned us. Being in tune is quite a good thing.

On Friday it warmed up and after a picnic lunch on the roof of the Austin Whole Foods, a vast emporium of goodness, an amazing store, we went to Barton Springs – when I say ‘went’ I mean we got completely lost and ended up downtown where we got a cab – which is an enormous natural swimming pool always at 68 degrees, perfect, refreshing. Back downtown to have a beer on East 6th which has some of the oldest buildings in Austin – and everywhere, may I say, I drank only local beers and they were delicious. We had so many evening choices – dancing lessons at the Broken Spoke? Barbecue somewhere? But after swimming and walking, we ended up once more walking home and getting enchiladas at the local grocery store.

On Saturday, a special thrill. Several years ago, a woman called Ruth contacted me; she had read my book and was a devout Yiddishist interested in translating the work of Jacob Gordin. We corresponded regularly as she worked; she lives in rural Texas, so we arranged to meet, finally, in Austin. She’s a terrific and very interesting woman wearing a gorgeous pair of cowboy boots; she told me I looked like Gordin, which isn’t necessarily a compliment since his beard is so much bigger than mine, but then said, “I mean, you have his eyes and his bearing.” We had lunch and talked avidly, then met up with Madame Blin and drove together to South Congress for another wander up and down. As we sat to drink one more great local beer, we began to chat with the young man sitting next to us, who was phenomenal – he’d grown up with orangutans, as his step-father was an “orangutan trainer”, and was now learning to be a sommelier, knew all about the rosés of Provence. We all chatted for an hour as the hoards wandered past on this crowded, eclectic street.

Ruth and our new friend Ryan went off, and Madame and I walked over the bridge to downtown, where we happened upon Austin Art, an outdoor art festival, and then walked further to have our last dinner together at Hut’s, one of Austin’s most famous burger joints, again right out of the Fifties. Food, incidentally, is inexpensive everywhere, at least where we ate. A bathroom graffitus at Hut’s: “Never fall for a musician, especially if he’s 30.” To which someone had added, “Except if he has a pet monkey with a hat collection, then it’s OK.”

A wonderful week with a dear old friend, a good new friend and a hundred other friends – truly, people were so warm and welcoming, you felt they meant it when they said, “Y’all have a great afternoon,” as you left the store without buying anything. For my friend from France, which does not pride itself on friendly service, it’s extraordinary. I was reminded of the importance of music, more, more needed in my life, and the kindness of strangers. Airbnb was a good experience, very cheap for a night’s sleep and friendly landlords, who don’t seem to mind a strange person in their kitchen.

Highly recommended.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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