Almost Famous

My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Entertainment Journalist

By Kimberlye Gold

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Herald Classic...


Kimberlye and her Pops

Due to popular demand, I was going to resume my “Almost Famous” column this issue and continue telling my tragic tales of pursuing that “so close and yet so far away” star in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and London, but last week life had other plans for me. Or I should say, death.

Last Tuesday morning, my father, Arthur Goldberg, known to all as “Art”, suffered a stroke and Thursday night he took his last breath. For those of you who missed the first installment in the February issue, I moved back to San Francisco from Nashville five months ago to help my family take care of my dad. He’d been in the hospital since August recovering not-so-well from back surgery, and it was hoped that the return of his prodigal daughter to the fold of his dysfunctional family would be just the thing to turn the tide and get Art to fight his way back.

He’d always been such an active, proud, self-sufficient guy, much more so than his 84 years would suggest, and I always thought of him as a cross between the Energizer Bunny and Clark Gable. My mom said she used to call him her “Rock Of Gibraltar”. (I only heard her call him, “Arrrrrrttttt!!!!”) And although I’d been traipsing around the world for the better part of two decades, I always counted on his being there to cheer me on. He never stopped believing in me and he loved my music. Now it was time for us to reverse our etched-in-stone roles - and for me to put down my life-long quest for “F&F” (Fame and Fortune) for a while and come back home.

I did things for my dad I never dreamed I’d ever have to do for anybody. It wasn’t easy - he had a lot of complications - but he worked his ass off and his prognosis was hopeful. Some of the same could be said for his youngest daughter’s readjustment to hometown life - but I had some humble pie tasting to do. I felt pretty damned sorry for myself. Somehow, in doing for my dad on a daily basis and seeing the tangible effect my sister, brother and I had on his attitude and recovery - and how brave he was to let us - some silver lining stuff started to appear. I met the illustrious publisher of this little news-rag, who listened to my music and some of my wacky stories and thought it was time for me to get over myself and get back out there and play some music again. Then he offered me the opportunity to try something I’d always wanted to do but was too busy “F&F” chasing to try: WRITING - for his paper!! Not for fame or fortune, but for the chance to re-invent myself - and for art. Art for art’s sake....

My dad loved this. He loved the fact that his daughter was suddenly writing for THE SAN FRANCISCO HERALD and he was so excited about it he called up his friends and his sisters in Tacoma to tell them and he showed it to all the people in the rehabilitation and retirement home he’d been transferred to. And he totally GOT the paper, man! Having owned his own corner grocery store on 26th and Lake Street in the Richmond district with his brother from 1939 to 1973 (he took off 4 years to join the Air Force), he KNEW how unbelievably difficult it was to start and run his own business and keep it going against all odds. “I just can’t BELIEVE this guy does this ALL BY HIMSELF!!!” he’d say. “He gets ALL THESE ADS EVERY MONTH???? HOW DOES HE DO IT, HOW DOES HE KEEP GOING????” “I don’t know, Dad,” I’d reply. “He just does - just like you...”

All my dad wanted to do was to come home and put on his old tan sweater he’d worn since I was in grade school (that my mom got him at JC Penney’s) and sit in his favorite chair in front of the TV in the living room. For two weeks he got his wish. The next issue of the SF HERALD came out with my interview with Fee Waybill from The Tubes, and Dad really paid attention, he totally dug it! “Honey, I can’t believe you did this all on the telephone!!!“ he called to me from his chair. “At our kitchen table!!! And you got him to talk for so long, about so much !!! This is really something!!”

The night before Dad had his stroke I was working on the Don Henley review and got impatient with him for calling me into the living room to throw away his junk mail. He just wanted to feel like he was doing something useful, and I yelled at him to stop bugging me when I was trying to work. I felt bad about it so I brought him some chocolate/peanut butter soy milk ice cream with whipped topping. “Thanks, Honey!!“ he said. “Now go write for your paper!” It was the last thing he said to me, besides “Goodnight.” For two days my strong-willed, comatose dad hung on while we held his hand and talked to him and waited ... When the rest of the family went to the hospital on Thursday to be with my father for the last time, I stayed home and put a picture of him dancing on his wedding anniversary from a few years ago and a picture of all of us from some family event on both sides of my computer and kept writing. That’s the memory I‘m holding onto - Art For Art’s Sake.....

Yesterday I sat in his favorite chair and took his sweater off the back of the chair where he always left it and pulled it around me like a blanket. I looked down at the stack of mail and papers and stuff he left on the end table before he went to bed. On top of the pile, right underneath his reading glasses, was the latest issue of the Herald. I opened it and it was dog-eared to the last page of the Fee Waybill interview. I’ll keep writing - you keep cheering me on. Okay, Dad??...###

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All contents © 2006 by Gene Mahoney