For Valentine’s Day

By Jeffrey Page

St. Valentine’s Day again, and despite its standing as little more than a boon to retailers of candy, greeting cards, flowers and the like, I have found myself playing a holiday game and making mental lists of the people whom I’ve never met and yet would be happy to send a Valentine. Some of them are gone and some of them remain. (And thanks to Lennon and McCartney for those words; and thanks to George and Ringo as well. Four Valentines are in the mail.)

So, Valentine’s greetings to the family of course – wife, daughter, son-in-law and the newest member who’s just 18 months old and who seizes my breath and makes me smile even if I’m not in the mood to smile.

And also to:

–Jackie Robinson, the most courageous of men. By this time, everybody knows what he did for the nation and understands his bravery, not to mention his raging competitiveness. Here’s what Jackie had to say: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Those are the words that appear on his gravestone.

–Loretta Weinberg, the Democratic leader of the New Jersey State Senate, who’s at the forefront of the investigation of the September outrage at the George Washington Bridge. Some people at age 79, facing the wrath of Chris Christie, might go away quietly. Not Loretta, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor with Jon Corzine in 2009. Recently when she asked that Christie inform the Legislature when he’s going to be out of state, Christie declared at his snarkiest: “I understand. She’d really love to be lieutenant governor, and she’s not. So every chance she gets to stick it to me, she does.”

Loretta dismissed Christie, likening him to a spoiled brat, describing his outburst as nothing more than “a playground taunt.”

–The reporters and editors of the Record of Bergen County who broke the bridgegate scandal and who have provided spectacular coverage ever since. If you got stuck on the bridge, The Record is the paper you need to consult. (Truth in column writing: I worked at The Record until 2007.)

–Marcia Ball, whose swamp rock singing and piano playing make me jump all over the place, whose ballads make me sentimental and whose rendition of Randy Newman’s song “Louisiana 1927” makes me tremble with an emotion I thought was reserved for people who survived Hurricane Katrina.

“It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time. There was six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline. Louisiana, Louisiana, they’re trying to wash us away.” If you can listen to Ball sing that refrain and not consider yourself a Louisianan, you’re made of strong stuff.

–J.S. Bach and his Coffee Cantata and the plaintive cry of the character Liesgen who at one point sings, “If I can’t drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.” I love coffee; I know what Liesgen means (though I’ve never felt like a roast goat).

–Bette Davis for her look and her voice, and especially for two of the greatest lines in movie history. In “All About Eve,” she urges the guests at a house party, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” And in the otherwise forgettable “Cabin in the Cotton” she declares to the lovelorn Richard Barthelmess, “I’d love to kiss you but I just washed my hair.”

–Dylan Thomas for his poem “Fern Hill,” in which he recalls ” … in the sun that is young once only, time let me play and be golden in the mercy of his means.”

–The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers for their humbling of the Yankees.

Happy Valentines Day everybody, and take it easy as you shovel the snow.

3 Responses to “For Valentine’s Day”

  1. carole howard Says:

    And a Valentine to you, Jeff, for introducing me to Marcia Ball. I didn’t know anything about her before reading this. Since we seem to be in the age-of-instant-anything, I just watched her on You Tube. Thanks.

  2. Jean Webster Says:

    Thanks from me, too ,Jeff …..

    For opening your list with Jackie Robinson and closing it with the 1955 Dodgers….

    And just seeing a short part to the Beatle’s program on TV made me want to dance, and brought me back to where I was when they played the Ed Sullivan Show.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and the rest of your lovely family.

  3. jerome spector Says:

    Always love your “Bums” references.Now I find that we have another mutual interest. Thanks toRuss Layne we have been Marcia Ball groupies for some years now.we have seen her perform quite a few time but the most poignant was at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. It was the weekend just before Katrina hit . Everyone knew that it was imminent , not the extent, but. She sang that Randy Newman song and there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. Thanks, Jerome

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