Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gazing Upward

I've been thinking a lot about meteors and meteorites lately. Lord knows why, just cosmic musing about falling stars, plus a few odd news stories. I have learned that when humans witness a meteorite streaking to earth and find the sizzling chunk of sky and its terrestrial impact, the technical term is a "meteorite fall."

Extrapolating, as I tend to, my thoughts took a Newtonian tangent. If all force has an equal and opposite reaction, then what would be the reverse of a meteorite fall? What, I wondered, is the official term for observing a phenomenon that has a reverberating impact on earth and then heralding its dazzling return to the celestial firmament?

I found out the answer last night. It's called "A Tribute to Art Buchwald."

Last evening I had the great good fortune to attend the Paris Tribute to Art Buchwald, who died in January. Held in a standing-room only crowd in a grand salon at the Traveller's Club, the reception could as easily have been held on Mt. Olympus as far as I was concerned. Many of the Olympian gods and goddesses of Paris in my book of myths were there, from Hollywood to journalism to gastronomy. Names jumped off the byline or masthead or silver screen or TV screen, and became real people as I was introduced to them, champagne glass in hand. These were Art's friends and family, who knew him well, including Olivia de Havilland, Ward Just, Joel Buchwald, Jim Bittermann, Philippe Labro, Nicole Salinger, Michael Oreskes, Lee Huebner, and the owner of L'Ami Louis. And then there were people like me who had never met Art at all him, who simply loved him through his writing.

All evening long, people repeated, "Art would have loved this."

With fanfare and video clips of Art, hilarity resounded. A remembrance by his former Herald Tribune assistant: "When he hired me he didn't know I couldn't type. He never asked. He hired me because his column made me laugh."

Or Nicole Salinger telling Art's tale of "The Six-Minute Louvre"

Jim Bitterman's tale of sneaking a Camembert into Art's hospice room, asking Art if his doctors allowed him to eat such rich food. Art's reply, of course, was "Jeez, I'm dying -- I can eat whatever the hell I want!"

The stories could go on forever, indeed will go on forever.

For Art's resonating impact is still reverberating on this earthly coil, as it did yesterday, with rounds of laughter and hilarity, from the meek (me) to the mighty. Last night I felt very very very tiny in that crowd of Greats. Humble and incredibly happy, but existentially infinitesimal. Wishing upon a twinkling star up there.

But the evening wasn't about star-gazing. It was about reveling in the wonder of the man who never ceased to make us think while laughing, who has found a new desk with a Better View. We know he's still joking up there. Kind of makes you look forward to the trip.

Merci, Art.

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