For someone born in 1964, the year 2014 sounds awfully futuristic. But, some things never change. Take human kindness. I traveled for 90 minutes by bus last night to hear some live music in Berkeley, CA. I had never been to Ashkenaz Dance Hall, mostly because I don’t have a steady dance partner. And, since I’ve had to get by without a vehicle, I tend to take the shortest route to fun. It takes less than 30 minutes for me to be in the greatest City in the West, San Francisco. So, why would I want to go all the way to North Berkeley for live music? Something drew me there, I guess. The crowd included hot young (Bosnian?) girls in tight, short skirts and black leather. They looked exactly like my friends and I did in Los Angeles in the 1980’s. There were a lot of older couples (read early Baby Boomers) who danced with their partners and each other. There were the requisite hipsters there for the scene, and surely like the rest of us, the music more than anything. I’d listened to Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, so I totally get the Klezmer thing. But, imagine a tuba and a marching band as back up. Whoa. Amazing. Each of the players in the band, Inspector Gadge, had style too. The female lead clarinet player was a stand-out, with her perky demeanor and diminutive “pretty in pink” persona (met her through a mutual friend, and can honestly say she seems like a really cool gal). So, there’s the scene. I thought about leaving right after the obligatory New Years toast, but friends and good conversation put us behind schedule. By the time we reached the bus stop, it was to be an hour wait (we’d just missed one by moments it would seem). I thought about walking to BART, a couple of miles away, while I slipped into more comfortable shoes. When I remembered how badly my companions feet hurt though, I decided on a taxi. No answer. It was New Years Eve! What was I thinking?! I approached the big scary doorman, and he had “the guy”. Yes! A special number to call. But, alas, no answer. As I was about to turn on my heels towards the other side of town, I noticed a lovely couple I’d faced on the dance floor. We were doing one of those big line dances in a circle you always see in the movies. Left, left, right, kick ball change … everyone smiling with amazing energy passing from one friends or strangers hand to another. One couple, a little older than us, stood out. They just seemed to glow. You know the type. Their hair is white, but their skin still looks healthy. They’re lithe and limber, and not stooped over like old people of yore. I walked up and asked them to give us a ride to the BART. They asked where we lived and we said Oakland. Where in Oakland they asked. The Dimond I said. The Dimond? We’re from Glen Park and can take you all the way home. So, even when you’re in Berkeley, you can’t forget your neighbors in Oakland cannot be beat!
PS Part of what made this couple, Marta Macbeth and Craig Fiels , so special is likely their “vocation”. They are tour guides of sort, leading nature lovers in drumming to attract and communicate with wild dolphins and other sea creatures in Costa Rica. It’s called Wild Dolphin Journeys, and they have a tour coming up in February. One more thing to put on my list of possible adventures for 2014! For more on their excursions, visit their website at http://wilddolphinjourneys.com/