Friday, July 13, 2012

7-11-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #144 (The Washington Squares - Sidebar about What Happened at One U. . .)

The Squares chugged along like an express train on the local track (a “D” train, perhaps?) in early 1983. We grew close, like a dysfunctional family, and because Tom Goodkind and Jill Greenberg were engaged, of course we were all invited to the wedding.

On May 8, 1983, at the Breakers hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, the Goodkinds became “man and wife.” Actually, they just made official what they’d felt: a destined partnership. They adored each other and were great partners in crime, as the saying goes. We all had a laugh down in Florida, staying with various Greenberg-Goodkind relatives. It was a lavish, lovely wedding at a very ritzy place -- The Breakers Hotel -- and I was honored to be invited and attend.

Then again, I think that Tom wanted to show off his new musical group to one and all and get his family’s blessing -- so of course, we sang for our supper (Bruce and I, that is). It’s all a little blurry but I’m sure we pulled it off with aplomb.

May 8, 1983, was also the last birthday of Mickey Ruskin, my boss in NYC at One U/Chinese Chance, the hip bar/restaurant in the Village. He was 50 years old. I got back to the city one shift before May 16th. Mickey was hanging at his usual table with some of the usual cronies, the guys who went to the back, in the office, to do the secretive dealings. . . Mickey was looking sallow and kind of distracted, but he wasn’t cranky. To me, he was a mumbling, soft voiced, gentle man.

At any rate, on May 16, 1983, the sad news spread in hushed tones all over the restaurant. I was in shock when I heard about it as I came in for my evening shift: Mickey Ruskin, father, husband, boss, successful restaurateur, was dead. I believe his heart had stopped when he was out somewhere afterhours. . .

The next day, all kinds of folks came in to pay their respects. The Saturday Night Live crowd and Bill Murray showed up with a posse of pals. I recall opening bottles of champagne for them at the table and being REAL nervous, but they were nice, esp. Bill Murray. You can just kind of tell he is, anyway.

So many came to be together to join in mutual sorrow at the passing of the great Mickey Ruskin, all the artists, writers, musicians. . . people like Paul Butterfield (of the ‘60’s Blues Band fame) and John Cale, Joni Mitchell. . . whoever was in town. I felt especially bad for the Ruskin girls, Nina and Victoria, and for Mickey’s widow, Kathy Ruskin. . . such a sad time.

Mickey Ruskin was truly loved -- and truly missed.

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