WHAT’S UP, HANKUS NETSKY?
I see Hankus Netsky, the leader of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, every couple years.
He never remembers my name.
I don’t hold that against him. His best greeting is “How is your Mickey Katz project coming?” (Yiddishe Cup is at times a Mickey Katz cover band.)
I’m flattered. Hankus remembers something about me.
How many musicians does Netsky see in a week? A lot. He teaches at the New England Conservatory, leads a well-known klezmer band, does music projects at the Yiddish Book Center, and plays in a world music group.
I’m Netsky to some people. I don’t know these people but they know me. For example, Oberlin and Cleveland State students attend Yiddishe Cup gigs, looking for term-paper material, and I don’t remember who they are when they call me three months later.
I wonder who says to Netsky: “Sorry, I don’t remember your name.”
Nobody says that to Netsky. Obama doesn’t, Romney doesn’t, Perlman doesn’t. Sapoznik doesn’t.
Netsky, the Great One . . .
1. Hankus Netsky’s wife is Clara Netsky. Say that. (Don Friedman, Yiddishe Cup’s drummer, concocted this pun.)
2. Ring Lardner Jr. said a well-known person will not remember you unless you’ve been introduced at least five times. (This Lardner Jr. factoid courtesy of Mark Schilling.)
3. Hankus Netsky is a great guy. One of the nicest, smartest, most considerate guys on the klezmer scene. Seriously.
Qué pasa, Harvey Pekar? Vos machst du, Michael Wex? . . .
Harvey Pekar’s reputation took off on December 31, 1979, when he got a rave in the national press – The Village Voice — for the first time. But he wasn’t happy.
He told me in 1980, “Movies, interviews — it all falls through. Maybe I’m bowed — my back is short. I’ve got to become more famous. If you’re not a doctor in this town [Cleveland], you’re stuck. The comic-book thing has picked up some, but it doesn’t mean anything in this town. I’d love a groupie to screw, listen to records with, and leave me alone.”
Harvey’s woe-is-me schtick was no schtick; he was down and out. Even after he became famous — after the movie American Splendor — he kvetched a lot: he had money worries, he said; his family scene was precarious; his health was tenuous; and his toilet handle jiggled. Harvey was the guy with the perpetual toothache who thought happiness was not having a toothache. He never ran out of material.
After American Splendor, the movie, Harvey sat on his porch, and fans from all over the world stopped by. He met interesting people without going out.
I went with a foreign fan to Harvey’s porch. The fan and Harvey BS’d for an hour, mostly about Harvey’s upcoming projects.
Michael Wex was on Fresh Air, Terry Gross’s radio, one time. Pekar was on Terry Gross twice.
Wex was on the show for his book Born to Kvetch. When Wex’s second book, Just Say Nu, came out, he tried to get on again, but didn’t make the cut.
Wex wrote on his website: “I don’t want a niche, I want an empire!” Funny — and true. In the arts, the more fame the better until you need bodyguards.
I was standing in the prescription pick-up line at CVS with fellow AKs. The man behind me said, “Saul Ludwig, here. You played my daughter’s wedding. Not only that but we also saw you at Chautauqua.”
“I remember you,” I said. “Your daughter is Amy Shulman. I ran into her at a gig in Buffalo.”
Give me a break, Saul. Do you know how many weddings I play? Shuman, Shulman, abi gezunt. I can’t even go to CVS anymore.
Joke, Saul, joke.
I wrote this article, “Mickele: Mickey Katz Lives,” for the Cleveland Jewish News, 7/27/12. More than you want to know about Mickey Katz, probably.
Yiddshe Cup performs a tribute to Mickey Katz 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 9, at Cain Park, Alma Theater, Cleveland Hts.
Tix: www.cainpark.com, 216-371-3000, or 800-745-3000.
$20-22 advance. $23-25 day of show. Discount for seniors and students.