Sunday, July 08, 2007


About a month ago, Rob Kendt tagged me and when I had coffee with him this past Friday, I told him I'd finally post a response. So the idea is to present eight random facts about myself, right? Well, here goes.

1) When I was a little boy (under 10), I used to save my pennies until I had 435 of them and I'd play a game called "Congress!" (and yes, it had an exclamation point). Heads meant Democrats and tails meant Repugs and I use to the flip all the coins and hope for a big liberal landslide. Alas, most of the time it was pretty divided government.

2) My last name is a fraud. According to my great-grandfather's sister (which would make her my great-great aunt), my great-great-great-great-grandfather was one of a group of brothers that were diamond merchants in Amsterdam. The original surname was De Groot, but the man from whom I am descended had a feud with the other brothers, changed the name to Jacobs, and his son, in the 1840s, moved to London. In 1990, I was actually able to locate this man, with the name Eleaner [sic] Jacobs, in the London census of 1851. He was then living with his wife Dinah and their first three children in the Whitechapel section of the city. I visited the street where they lived -- and where, in the summer of 1858, they left to come to America (Dinah was pregnant with my great-great-grandfather, Jacob Jacobs). Today, the small street has a nursing home that somehow made it through the blitz.

3) I have been interested in theatre since I was 9 years old or so. This was during the bad years of the 1970s in NYC, when there were horrid budget cuts to the school system. Our teacher got a break of about an hour or so day, when we were tended to by a man named Ben Finn, a WWII veteran who, among other things, had written a slew of plays and musicals for kids. One of them, a 20-minute version of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Gimpel the Fool, was proposed to be produced, and I auditioned for some reason (I don't remember what on earth propelled me to stand up) and was rewarded with the lead role. We did the play for the whole school (grades K-6) about a half-dozen times or so. There were, I think, two evening performances and obviously my parents were there for both of them. I came off the stage and said to my parents, "I want to be an actor." Their response: "We'll talk about it." It was a long conversation, I assure you.

4) My favorite fiction author is Robertson Davies.

5) The first time I set foot in a gym as an adult was on Memorial Day, 2002.

6) When I was born, all four of my grandparents were alive (aged 51, 51, 50 and 48), and three of my great-grandmothers were alive (aged 73, 75 and 79) as well as many of their siblings. I've been a lot of funerals.

7) I worked for a year and a half full-time at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at NYU -- after I dropped out of college (for reasons that are personal and will remain so), this was how I got myself back into school (as the university gave me tuition remission). I have a LOT of stories about that time -- just about everybody came through that office, from Cher (with Chastity Bono) to the wife and son of Javier Perez de Cuellar (then the Secretary General of the UN) to The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn, who refused to fill out a simple form containing her address because she was afraid of being stalked. Anyway, one of the admissions counselors was Andrea Dukakis -- the daughter of the 1988 Democratic presidential candidate. He had just lost when I started working there; I think she started about three or four months after I did. The day it was revealed that Kitty Dukakis, her mother, was abusing rubbing alcohol, Andrea was already in the building. I was the front desk manager, which meant I was the first line of defense in terms of admitting students into the building (a townhouse on Washington Square North) for interviews. Andrea was the biggest sweetheart in the world and obviously having this news about her mother coming to light was just devastating. The media had figured out where Andrea worked and there were news crews outside the building. Andrea asked me to lie to the media about her whereabouts and I did and Andrea hid until everyone was gone. That was one hell of a day.

8) I am a distant cousin by marriage of the playwright Elmer Rice.

Now, am I supposed to tag people too?

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1 comment:

Jen Ryan's Brain said...

gotta love Blog Tag! LOL... cant wait to read your "Tony's Do Off B'way" thesis! hope you had a great weekend.... xoxoxoxo