An email from my cousin, having sent him an email about Woody Allen about his days as a stand-up comedian, this was part of his reply:
If I¹m not very much mistaken, I spotted you in a Youtube clip, in the audience of a 1971 concert by Grand Funk Railroad. Check out the guy, 4 minutes and 15 seconds into the song. That is you. Digging the groove and slightly affected by mind-altering substances. Am I right or am I right?
He might well have been right, although the chap in the video was much too clean-cut for me in those days. I would also have been doing my final exams in my Masters year just as the concert was being held, although at this stretch, who can be sure. But what I do know for sure was that I was never able to listen to the kind of whatever it is that the band is playing. So I wrote back:
That was amazing. We both watched it and while it couldn’t have been me, it was uncanny. I actually had to look up where it was filmed, since 1971 was about right for when I might, just possibly, but only very very remotely, have gone to hear The Grand Funk Railroad. But at Shea Stadium in New York, even as far gone as I am, I was not there, not then. But if I told you I was, who might have doubted it. I can only say, you have more fortitude than I do for getting all the way to 4:15.
But appropriately, given what began this correspondence, I have had another Zelig-like moment. You can see me over Groucho’s left shoulder in Horsefeathers (1932) at the beginning of the clip below, but then from 15 seconds in. It is ridiculous how close I now look to that chap, mortar board and all, unlike that extraordinarily good looking chap sitting in the bleachers watching the concert in 1971.
I sent an actual photo of myself to a number of people that I found on the Camp White Pine website taken when I was 17 and no one recognises me. In fact, almost everyone refuses to believe I once looked like that. A kind of reverse-Zelig.
This is me when I was a mere cherub. I’m the one on the left:
The only certainty I can tell you is that no one who knew me in 1971, or when this picture was taken in the early 1960s, would ever have foretold how I would end up or who I would be today, I least of all.