Apr 02 2011


Published by

 Burt Kaufman
Living Life, at Last  –   PILLOW TALK and other good things come back to life…

What some call middle age , some call old age, I call it finally Living my Childhood I never completed…

catching up on lost time… If they accuse me of acting like a kid today I have no problem  with that. I feel like a big kid finishing up what he missed the first time around…

50s and 60s: Seems life’s gone pretty fast.sometimes passing me by… especially
with Demanding parents during my  first two decades,making demands of me, my time. I do
remember highlights like going to the 1962 World series with good neighbor Sam Whitman,
What an exciting year, the only year the Giants made it into the series during my youth,
and the year I had a special interest in baseball – collected every baseball card in 1961
and still have them. Fun, thought-provoking  and  not so silly TV shows like Leave It To Beaver and Twilight Zone.
Great music in 1962, perhaps my favorite year… early Motown,
Philly, Phil Spector sound, Beach Boys and surf, Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, Neil Sedaka
and , of course, Elvis, Rick Nelson,   the girl group sound, Leslie Gore, Lou Christie,
Chubby Checker, with Neil Diamond, early favorite, still getting going at the Brill Bldg…
Ray Charles was probably my early favorite and ‘Whad’d I say my favorite early record
goign back to 1959. Uncle Dick, who lived with us for awhile and introduced me to
Harry Belefonte, my first music memory around 1955. Day-O. Burl Ives’s kids songs….Little White Duck, Bongo had a Drug, etc etc mother used to play for me…

Davey Crockett King of the Whild Frontier…never did get my own Coonskin hat.... The World of Disney, the Musketeers.
American Bandstand, Dick Clark.  finally did get to Disneyland… what a kid’s dream world, which had’nt changed much years later when I went back. Of course, our Fairyland in Oakland was the inspiratation for Disneyland and it’s still there in most of its original glory after all these years, a year older than I…All good. Didn’t get enough.. parents always looking
over my shoulder with more things for me to do. Wash the dishes, cut the lawn…

I managed to have some good youthful times.living on a cul de sac  – Hillwood Place, in a tucked-away, idyllic corner of Oakland, full of kids, though
only Joel MaKower had to come in earlier than me, 6 pm, while the other kids were still
playing kick the can or telling ghost stories on Hillwood Place in Oakland…
in those innocent 50s and early 60s. Summer days were spent in full at the Crocker
Highlands school yard around the corner,playing baseball – I was pretty good.
Childhood crush on Donna Kincaid .. all the boys did…

John Stevens from Wisconsin, Good power hitter. Best friend Tom Reiman and his wonderful mother, Eve, who always had the treat for me my mother never would give me… David Ruttan. Lance Roberson, the bully.  My paper route on the corner. N-38(?) Hutch, the cigar-smoking DA (district advisor)

.. that morning in 1963 when I got a huge poster of Goldwater at then end of the Sunday morning route to add to my political novelty collection…   Randy Meltzer, who made me sneak into the ‘locked’ girls bathroom
and school after hours, only to be picked up by the cops in a paddy wagon, who I later
had a fight with and never saw after that… Playground favorite counselor John Berry
with Koolaid and arts and crafts…

The KeySystem Trains, the ‘B’ line which took us down to Lakeshore, that perfect neighborhood shopping strip with Dime and Dollar (Mrs Cohen), Food Town (Mr Traverse, our neighbor) , Maude at the old Safeway, the Flying A and the snice service man whose name I forget, the Donut Shop (still there in its third or fourth incarnation) the record shop, long gone, next to the Donut Shop…Only remnants of the old days remain but  it’s all coming back as I recollect..Good , no , great memories there, when I wasn’t
under the gun from my parents, whether locked in basement after school
or going to unwanted piano lessons, skin doctor, orthodontist, camps, etc. to get me out
of their hair(?!X), Bob the Barber…The Good Son, doing what he’s told…. living
their life as it were, not mine.

Third Decade College – the 70s : The early sixties seemed so long ago… seven years later at Cal State Hayward, first two years of college,
offered no social life but interesting classes, eg History of Western Culture
(Theodore Rozak, et al), Music History with Dennis DeCoteau, Human Geography
(Krogzemus) stood out in my memory. I actually learned something,  Unlike at UCLA,
my next two, er three years.. after taking off a year on probabion to work
at a wellknown optometrist office as a vision therapist, got
an A in History of Rock and Roll with Dr Demento which got me off probation after some
mis -guidance helped bring poor grades in pre-med I tried as a lark, again trying
to please good old Dad. Medicine – Not for me, though I always felt I could be a
good doctor, dealing with people and their illnesses. My dear brother, Don, was
the better student I didn’t care to be. Can’t really remember any interesting
or notable classes as UCLA.. just large ones, mostly rat psychology. Don’t remember
ever  talking to any teachers as we never saw them, only Teaching ASsistants.
Unlike Cal State, the social life made up for the disinterest in classes…
a great Charlie Chaplin film series, some parties and, yes, some dating, and, with
a car the latter year some touring old LA… the beaches, the Art Deco, the
famous food stands… Tommy’s burgers, Pinks hot dogs, La Barbera’s pizza…
Seeing Flash Cadillac and Continental Kids, an early Sha Na Na LA clone appear
at USC before they got famous == with maybe 10 people in the audience, seeing my
college friends get beat up in the parking lot after a Dodger game. REcord collecting..
Aarons Records on HIghland, Rhinos on Westwood and then Santa Moncica and their great
invention of licensing old songs… Speaking of old songs, I was a radio DJ at
UCLA’s 10-watt radio station, KLA, Bobbin Burt, lots of fun.
Somehow, I graduated, in that extra year. BA or was it BS? Enough of that…

1975: The working world wasn’t easy after surviving college.
i wanted to get into radio after having so much fun working the college radio station,
 so the only way really to get into the crowed field was in sales. I applied to every
radio station in the Bay Area and got hired by one, on commission – KDFc, the formerly
great classical station and its original owner Ed Davis, the station barely exists today,
on a college frequency hard to get.  I hardly thought of myself a salesperson – I called
myself an order  taker. Give them a good product and it should sell itself. With that in
mind, my fears  of hard selling subsided. I went onto a commission/salary job at Artweek
Magazine, selling advertising again before my entrepeneourial spirit took over with
BurtKaufmanBookcovers, where we (I) contracted with college bookstores to sell advertising
on bookcovers I would give FREE to them. It wasn’t enough to make a living , except maybe
for the summer before school started.

Meanwhile, there wan’t really much time for fun as it was always a struggle to pay the bills,
especially with dear daddy and mommy pressing me. by 1980 it was time for a new era…
Direct Mail Advertising and Coupons… the idea of a ‘marriage mailing’ whereby businesses
could share postage costs by combining their flyer/coupon with other businesses. Novel
concept I liked and nobody was doing it at the time except for one little guy in San Leandro,
Mapco. Then Valpak and some others came along and I came up with Coupon Country, a totally
different but similar coupon booklet concept; I never liked copying others and the coupon
book ahd a number of unique advvantes…

First year lost 10,000 but knew it would turn around. In the meantime I put Coupon Country
on hold to work for a similar but different Valpak cloone, at the urging of a relative.
That lasted one interesting but unrewarding year. Coupn Country came back and began to thrive
but not to the point I needed it to. Five years into it I got pressure fromt he folks again.
Perhpas they were embarassed to have the only coupon salesman int he family, amonst doctors
and lawyers. I held my ground this time, after what some might call a nervous breakdown
in 1986. I was lost, not sure if it was going to work at that point. I felt alone,
and directionless. I even sought therapy but didn’t enjoy telling these strangers my most
inner thoughts , especially after   asked me for money in advance – it was almost as though
it was more about the money. Well, I wquldn’t want to hear peoples’ problems all day , either.

I enjoyed Copuon country, the selling, the creativity in designing the coupons and putting
the mailers together including preparing them as bulk mail for the post office.  Long , hard
work which evetually because autmated. I wasn’t good at hiring sales people. They seemed
to make more money thanb did I, in additon to wanting raises all the time. I explained that
their raises should come by selling more advertising and getting more commissions, but they
didn’t buy it. One guy took his customers and started his own business, which he eventually
ran into the ground by being dishonest, but only after  taking some of my customers by making
promises he never kept.

I always loved music, especially early rock and roll, such as Roy Orbison. Wehn Orbison suddemnly
passed in 1988 after a great comeback with the Traveling Wilburys, I used any free time I had to
 start a publication, a fan magazine, if you will. It helped
deal with the loss of probalby my favorite singer I had seen dozens of times in concert . Thru
the fan club I met lots of people and acquired Orbison music I never knew existed.  But running
such a mag was a time0sucker. I did charge for sub scriptions and made tatpes and videos for
subscribers that brought in some aditional revenue. Ten years of magazines was enough, especially
after Orbison’s wife, who was very unpopular with fans, decided to start her only 4 page
newsletter (as compared to our 50 page magazine.

Just as well as I was about to be overwhelmed by family tragedies. First, my dear sister,. Joan,
came down with breast cancer – long, sad, story I won’t go into here other than I remember first
taking her to Mt. Zion Hospital as she embarked on cancer treatments and then a bone marrow
transplant that proved unsuccessful. After we became clposer than ever , she passed in 1999.
I  loved Joan’s dogs, Pucky and Roscoe, which we would walk with every night; now they were
with me, as I had promised Joan, despite my parents’ effort to get rid of them. I loved having them
as they were great dogs and very unique – and an extension of my sister. OUr mother had her own
medical problems, with blood cancerm and I think my sister’s illness exacerbated it. She, too ,
passed, two years later after a valiant fight, like Joan; I visited her 7 times in 2000-2001
at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. Then, just before my mother passed, my brother, Don, was
diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was the shocker of  shockers. As with Joan, I spent significant
time with Don, most every day, trying to give him support he wasn’t getting elsewhere – another
long story I won’t go into now. Don lived longer than most of the other brain tumor patients
he huddled with – three years. IN a bittersweet way, the tragedy brought Don and I closer than
ever.  Even when he was so sick , he was more concerned about Pucky dog, who was also on her
last days and passed away within a week of Don, Octover, 2004 or was it 2005? I also had a string
of four cats who died within two years during the early 2000s.

So, there wasn’t a lot of free time to do some of the things I’d wanted to do, like organize my
music and record collections, play piano, accordian and guitar, travel.
Now the Kaufman family was just me and my 90-year-old Dad. And, it wasn’t long before both of
us also got cancer – my Dad prostrate and then a stroke or two and myself a sarcoma on the chest.
Thankfully I didn’t listento my doctor or my father and went to the doctor to have my chest
looked at or I probably wouldn’tbe here today.

Now that Dad and I are both healthy , my Dad at 96(!) and me at __; I dont believe in making an
issue out of age or religion. If one dwells on their age they will start acting their age,
and, yes, I’m still in my childhoold

that’s right, now I’m just starting to and hoping to live life. I still want to see ?Dad, of course,
and my two , now three, cats (I just rescued dear Zack, the neighborhood cat), which  stil cuts
back on my free time, along with a heavy work load.

But, now, it’s all about priorities. I don’t like being rude but now I might have to be. The things
I put off in the past should be done now I say…

and, my goal is to do at least ONE FUN or INTERESETING THING A DAY, and document it right here in this
family handy webiste.

I’d been thinking about this, a journal of sorts and thought I’d get it off the ground sooner than later.
After seeing the great 50s-era movie, Pillow Talk with Doris Day and Rock Hudson April 1, tonight at the
great art deco Paramount Theater in Oaklnad, I am inspired to continue finding things to do in a similar
vein.. Call me living int he past, or as my good friend Dorothy says, quoting Herb Caen, the great
SF columnist ,’ Most of ny life is behind me, so what’s wrong with lving in the past?

As a londmark birthday approaches it’s time to get serious and LIVE LIFE, not putting off for tomorrow
whaqt I could do today. I’ve helped take care of others, done what I’ve been told to do and, therefor,
have no regrets – and now, a little personal discovery. Last time I tried this it lasted one day,
my 5_ birthday Tiki Trip to L.A.  Traveling is a bit difficult right now, with my new, rescued cat
– did I tell you, one more caretaking episode? So, there’s enough to find and do in the SF Bay Area
so we can start right here…

My goal is to find at least one thing everyday that is unique to do, observe, partake, experience,
be it a movie like Pillow Talk, which certainly will fit right into the Tiki Lounge, here – what
a way to get started as we embark on some new self discovery… a under-rated movie with Rock Hudson
and Doris Day stealing the show, along with tony Randall. Filmed in 1959, it has great 50s  ‘googie’
architecture and features plus the great cars of the 50s (poenty of fins), music  and, plus, it’s
funny and I think people really appreciated a movie not ‘in your face’ like most of today’s movies;
but I must say, Pillow Tallk had it’s share of riske humour, though nothing obscene as we see today,
just a little ahead of it’s time shall we say, with scenes like Rock Hudson snatching Day out of
her bed with blacket and all and carrying her thru the streets  back to his new ‘batchelor pad’
she decorated for him! His tiki lounge!

TODAY: Now, I’ve got my Tiki Lounge, at least on paper, here… actually A REAL one in my back yard, sort of… thanks to my Tiki Trip to LA a few years back where I found some treat tiki stuff in the center of tiki culture…and there’s always the Forbidden Island in Alameda, though a bit over-rated, the Conga Lounge in Oakland not far from the original Trader Vic’s stood, the newer Trader Vic’s in Emeryville and the great, under-rated Tonga Room in San Francisco, the grand palace of Tiki …

and my 1963 Chrysler Imperial  I  picked up 7 years ago for a song, while undergoing cancer treatments. (I’m o.k. now, thank you Dr ODonnel. Thank you. thank you, though I miss my friends Polly, who I’m afraid lost her bout with cancer this past year, Mariane Rebillot, of course my sister,brother and mother two dogs and four cats- I think of them all every day and , by the way, this Tiki Lounge site will serve as another place and way to share my thoughts of them… as well as live my years for them, too, since they’re not around somebody has to or should  help finish out their lives as best we can…)

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