Believe it or not, I don’t live in the past. No working journalist does, especially one with so many young friends. Even so, I do enjoy rummaging around in my well-stocked memory, and I don’t mind admitting that there are times when I prefer communing with the increasingly distant past to grappling with the uncomfortably proximate present. Ben Gazzara, Clifford Odets, Aaron Copland, Robert Warshow, even Jerry Lewis: today they all seem far more real to me than the pretty people I’d be reading about in Entertainment Weekly if I read Entertainment Weekly. No doubt this has something to do with my recent brush with mortality. To borrow a line from Patrick O’Brian, I’ve been a bar or two behind ever since I got out of the hospital, and though I’m sure I’ll catch up sooner or later, I find it oddly pleasant to linger among ghosts….
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