Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Or, the Fine Art of Caricature.

While I was in New York last weekend, I had an opportunity to visit one of my Friends of Long Standing, the good Doctor Harpo.

Esteemed readers who have followed my antics for a while may remember Harpo from a piece I wrote last year after reconnecting with him at Princeton Reunions. And if you wonder where that sobriquet came from, you need look no further than the photographs in that post: That shock of curly, reddish-blond hair has always called the Silent Marx Brother to mind.

[The other nickname I have for the good Doctor is “Urethra Franklin” - which makes perfect sense given that his name really is Franklin, and he’s a urologist.]

In any event, Doc Harpo was gracious enough to put me up overnight, and as fate would have it, his place is conveniently located on the Upper West Side just a short walk from Central Park... in a gorgeous old Beaux Arts apartment building that is an official New York City designated landmark.

We hooked up with Harpo’s girlfriend and a few schoolmates to grab a pizza at one of the local establishments, and then it was back to the apartment. I had already seen Harpo’s elder son Logan - it was the first time I had clapped eyes on the strapping Princeton grad since he was about two years old, and to say he had changed was a minor understatement - but now I had a chance to meet younger son Jensen for the first time.

It was a little like stepping back in time 35 years or so... because Jensen is the spit ’n’ image of his Daddy. You’d be hard-pressed to distinguish a contemporary photograph of Jensen from one of Harpo taken back in our college days. Lookee:

Harpo and Jensen
Doc Harpo and son Jensen (Dartmouth ’10). Father and son? Or clones?

This Harpo thing has been part of the Doc’s identity for a long time. Just how long? Recently, as he was going through a box of his old junk and detritus that had been stored at his mother’s place, he found this:

Arty Harpo
Caricature of Doc Harpo from 1974. [Click to embiggen.]

It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see that it’s a caricature of the good Doctor. But who is this “Logan” fellow? Harpo’s son wasn’t walking the planet back then.

Why, it’s me! Logan was my nickname in college, a nickname that was bestowed upon me after I made an abrupt tooth-rattling, bowel-clenching two-wheeled left turn onto Logan Avenue in Asbury Park, New Jersey one day in 1972. It’s purely a coincidence that Doc Harpo would later name his firstborn son Logan... but I’ve always taken quiet pleasure in that coincidence. And it’s an amazing little piece of synchronicity that Harpo found that drawing - a drawing that had lain hidden for thirty-six years - until just a few days before I called to announce my plans to visit New York.

1 comment:

The Other Elisson said...

I had a similar synchronicity happen to me with my old friend Paul from Unqua Elementary School days. About two years ago he stumbled across a letter hidden for 42 years where I had thanked his family for having me over for a summer weekend at their beach house at the Jersey shore. Unknown to him, his mother had kept the letter with other family mementos, and sadly she passed away several years ago. I got back in touch with him via e-mail for the first time since 1966 with the help of the internet... not knowing that just days earlier he found and put back that letter his mother had saved from our childhood days.