I pick the led out of my head nearly every 30. I square the stairs double time, drop 5, inhale the light and blow back CO. I’ve tripped the subsonic with nicotine and reckon its better than a finger of gut rot before noon.
I flick the butt thinking I might engage a lovely twist before I’m pasted to the floor with dotes on dull. I swing back the glass and and I’m hit with a flash brighter than a torch in a catacomb. G, the receptionist introduces the flame as her grandfather and I extend my hand.
I can’t get a drop on his age, reckon late 60’s, and find out later he’s close to 80. His grip is that of a man half his age, minus 10. The man is slightly Fairbanks with a full copper shock and stache. He’s what they used to call a lead in the Golden, printed on silver and squared. The star is Harvey Appelbaum.
The lobby sobers up after Harvey leaves. I ask his granddaughter if she can setup an interview.
“By the way, what’s Harvey do?”
“Use to be a graphic designer.” G responded. “Had something to do with the Absolut bottle”.
The girl just rattled my jam. I punched 5, dipped my pockets and dusted the lobby. I tickled the keyboard and tagged Harvey to a GD outfit on E. 49th in 1968. I poured 2 fingers, stayed steady and locked on to a rare book peddler in Garrison that was boasting he had a pp48 CAT. with Harvey’s X. I threw back my drink and dropped 8 jacks. The book arrived 9 days later.
I slipped the catalog from the plastic sleeve and peeled back the cover –
Appelbaum & Curtis Inc 333E49NY17-PL2-0679
The pages smelled like teak. I lapsed back to 1968. The symbols were modern, bold and as direct as the best Tin Pan melodies. The ink blotted the pages like pop art miniatures that I imagined would have inspired Warhol to ponder about getting back in the biz.
The party list battered my noodle – Pan Am, KLM, Hilton, Newsweek, Dunkin’ Donuts to name a few. I booked it to the lobby and asked G if she knew Curtis. She didn’t but said that I could ask Harvey myself. He was waiting on my call.