It is my father's birthday today. I could talk for hours about how cool he is and how much I love him, but it's easier to state that, when I was 13 or 14, he handed me two Leonard Cohen CDs (The Best of Leonard Cohen and The Future, i think) and told me I was old enough to listen to them. They surprised me, shocked me, and disturbed me. They also thrilled me, chilled me, and fullfilled me. The discovery of Cohen lead inevitably to Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits (Dad loves Dylan and Waits, and likes the Cave i've played for him that sounds like Cohen), and my life was never the same. Sometimes we'll have theological debates that boil down to "Dylan is God" (me) and "No, Cohen is God" (him).
He wanted to be an actor, and studied for years with people like Stella Adler. He traveled all around the world, picking up knowledge and having adventures to which he only teasingly alludes. After decades in America (including living with Mom in Greenwich Villiage for several years, living on coffee and coolness), he packed us up to Australia and ended most of my depression.
He claims never to have done drugs, yet tells me to read his yellowed Herman Hesse and Carlos Castenada.
He liked Massive Attack before I did and pretends to get mad when I get drunk, come home stoned, or stay up until 4am writing. He's mad enough to make me think twice about doing it again, so I stay mostly responsible-- but he trusts me enough not to disapprove horribly. When i risked work and sleep to write a play to be performed later, i had an argument with him. The facts of his life let me know that there's no way he's seriously hold it against me, and he didn't.
He manages resturants, and does quite well at them.
I'm worried about placing so much information on the Internet, but the chances of him running into an old friend from this are rather high.
I lost the felt fedora he gave me a long time ago; he has encouraged me in the purchase of new ones. I lost the book of Leonard Cohen poetry he gave me; I lent it to a girl and she never gave it back. I think she'd approve. He told me to go see David Bowie; I did.
I judge people too much on coolness and not enough on character. Dad takes care of his family. He's a good man, an honest man, and a proud man. The fact that his taste in music and movies is as important to me as his character may be something he regards as a failure. To his credit, I do not steal nor lie. I give money to the homeless, and I try to be a good person.
I don't know how old Dad is, but I love him all the same.