Posts Tagged ‘Marvin J. Berkman’

Remembering Marv’

November 2, 2013
Marvin J. Berkman, performing in our living room back in the day.

Marvin J. Berkman, performing in our living room back in the day.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since Marvin J. Berkman packed up his guitar for the final time and took his music elsewhere.

Marv’ and his sweetheart Judy were the best neighbors anyone could ask for, so when he passed on, and Judy decided to move away to be closer to family, we decided to buy the house they lived in. Just couldn’t bear the thought of some stranger getting the place.

I’m no mystic, but I like to think that one of the reasons our guests enjoy their stays at the House Back East™ so much is that some small part of the old saloon musician hung around after closing time to play a quiet encore, help them feel at home.

Good night and joy be with you all.


A bed and barkfest

June 19, 2012

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Idiocy as regards real estate abounds in the O’Grady genes.

My paternal granda abandoned first County Clare in Ireland, then Canada, for Bogalusa, Louisiana, and later Perry, Florida. One of his sons, my father, bought land outside Ash Fork, Arizona, based on an ad in TV Guide. If you want to see what the End Days will look like, I’ll give you directions.

Herself and I have purchased property outside Weirdcliffe, Colorado, a town with no stop lights, more cows than people, and more rattlesnakes than cows. And we have owned no fewer than three houses right here in Bibleburg.

I’d say that last pretty much proves my thesis.

Which brings me to the House Back East, otherwise known as the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Crooked House.®

It was the home of our beloved next-door neighbors Marv’ and Judy, with whom we shared a common driveway, garage, political philosophy, sense of humor, the occasional meal and not nearly enough time. When Marv’ died, and Judy decided it was time to move back to Chicago to be with family, we agreed that rather than share a driveway and a garage with strangers who might not appreciate our politics, humor and cookery, we should buy her house. And so we did.

It seemed smarter than playing the market. We made a bundle when we sold the Weirdcliffe place with its 43 mountain acres, and immediately sank it into the market, which promptly transformed said bundle into a flaming bag of fiscal poop on our retirement porch, from which we had hoped to tell generations of snotnoses yet unborn to get the fuck off our lawn.

So, yeah. With the market still tottering about like a drunken O’Grady from County Clare, we thought more property would be the ticket. But what to do with it?

Rent it long-term? No, thanks. Mom and Dad tried that on a small scale and quickly grew weary of tenants skipping on overdue bills, setting kitchens ablaze and generally acting the fool, which they could get a-plenty from their eldest child in their own home.

Turn it into office space for Your Humble Narrator? That would be swell if I earned enough to justify more space than it takes to make shit up for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, or review bicycles for Adventure Cyclist, a task that occurs mostly on the open road.

Aha! How about short-term rental? We’ve enjoyed renting vacation houses in California and Hawaii, and for reasons that elude me at the moment there may very well be people who wish to visit scenic oligarchical Bibleburg, if only to tell friends and family, “It was every bit as bad as you’ve heard.”

Well, to be fair, there are worse places than Bibleburg, and I have lived in most of them. The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Crooked House® is minutes from Monument Valley Park, your jumping-off point for cyclo-cross-bike-friendly, off-road bike rides to Fountain on the south end, Greenland on the north end, and any number of places to the west that are not presently on fire.

Palmer Park, 730 acres of pure joy enclosing some 30 miles of trails, is about a 10-minute ride from here.

Group road rides leave at 10 a.m. weekends from Acacia Park downtown, a short leg-stretching spin away. Saturday’s ride is strictly for the insane, but Sunday’s goes to the U.S. Air Force Academy, which has the best roads in the Pikes Peak region. All  of them are uphill in both directions.

Dogtooth Coffee, the official java supplier to Mad Dog Media, is but a block to the south. Patty Jewett Golf Course is a chip shot to the east. Grog, groceries and other goodies are likewise within easy reach just a few moments north at the Bon Shopping Center, home to the fabled Safeway of the Living Dead. Organic vittles may be found a short drive west at Mountain Mama Natural Foods. And as it happens, the best liquor store in town is on the way there — Coaltrain Wine & Spirits.

The house itself, you ask? It’s tiny, like ours, under 1,200 square feet, with hardwood floors. One bathroom and two bedrooms, only one of which has a bed at present, a queen size. The second bedroom is part office at the moment and will eventually get a full-size bed. Soon there will be a love seat in the living room that folds out to a single bed. The largely unfinished basement hosts the furnace, washer and dryer.

The small kitchen has a gas range/stove combo, refrigerator, sink and no dishwasher. It adjoins the living room, which at present has a four-seater table, a giant ugly-ass hutch of dubious lineage, a minimalist Sony stereo and a rocker with footstool. Expect a few comfy chairs, a table, and perhaps an TV/DVD-player combo to be added directly, along with an Airport Express extension to the DogNet across the driveway. Oh, yeah, and there is a lockable shed for bikes in the fenced back yard. Pets are welcome.

We haven’t settled on a daily rental charge, but it will be reasonable and include free wireless Innertubes. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to either Care & Share, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region or Bike Clinic Too.

The biggest downside is that there are crazy people next door, but since you’re visiting this website you’re hardly in a position to be judgmental about that sort of thing.

Remembering Marvin J. Berkman

November 5, 2010
I took this still of Marv playing guitar while we shot a short video of him performing kiddie songs for his grandchildren. We coaxed him into playing a few tunes for the adults in the audience, and you can see that video by clicking the link below.

I took this still of Marv playing guitar while we shot a short video of him performing kiddie songs for his grandchildren.

While experimenting with video and audio the past couple days it strikes me that I overlooked the first anniversary of my friend and neighbor Marvin J. Berkman’s passing on Tuesday. I pegged the date in my mind based on the post I wrote about his departure, but without noticing that the post had, as usual, been a few days late and more than a few dollars short.

I rarely mess around with advanced technologies — most days I count myself fortunate if I can crank out a few static words and pictures for fun and/or profit. Indeed, the last time I got semi-serious about video was when Marv asked me to shoot him playing guitar and singing some nursery rhymes for his grandkids.

He burned through his juvenile repertoire in short order and Herself and I asked him to play something for the adults in the audience. I kept the camcorder’s tape rolling, and I’m so glad we did, because we wound up playing the edited video at his funeral, and burning DVDs for his survivors.

Every now and then I think I see Marv’ marching along some street somewhere. He had a style about him, and a distinctive gait, and once in a while some stylish, snappy elderly gent comes oh so close. But it’s always no cigar.

Marv’ was one in a million, and we miss the hell out of him around here.

Sweatin’ to the oldies

November 8, 2009

After a couple days of editing video and burning it to discs, Marv’s music is playing more or less non-stop in my head, especially when I run or ride. It’s perfect exercise music. “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down and Out” is a little bluesy, good for fat-burning or recovery, and “Going to Chicago (Sorry But I Can’t Take You)” and “Some of These Days” make a good soundtrack for an interval session.

A casual Googling unearths about a jillion different flavors of these tunes performed by a wide range of artists over the years. Marv seems to have taken his “Some of These Days” lyrics from an Ella Fitzgerald version. Count Basie could be the source for “Going to Chicago,” but Marv’s version has a whole lot more lyrical meat on its bones, some of which may have come from “Chicago Monkey Man Blues” by Ida Cox.

But that’s folklore for you — every story changes in the telling.