The art era of the roaring 80’s had come to an end and the last of a visual empire sat in the final throes of death on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. The Rodeo Drive, of the time of which I speak, was a quaint place where a young man like myself could open a fine gallery and sell hundreds of millions worth of oil on canvas by the great ones of the past. I recall now the feeling of walking from the front door to the sidewalk, late at night, long past retail closing times, and staring at the beautiful tree of lights, which watched over the Drive from its nonexistent planter atop the Regent Beverly Wilshire—it was the month of December. So peaceful those final days were I could bring myself to do nothing, but stand on the street for an hour and enjoy the solitude—there was just the right chill in the air.
I no longer recall how it came to pass that Johnnie Taylor’s kid came to wander the last of my galleries, but there was something special about her—black and lovely on the outside, a true Jewish Princess on the inside. And a touch of bitchiness that I was sure would make for many forks in the road. Again, as all who have lived twenty-seven lives during the course of one, I have no recollection how or why Tasha Taylor came into tow, but she did. From galleries to clubs to dinners to my home she was around. The daughter of a soul legend aspiring, like so many young girls do, to become an actor.
And then there was the night at the Mondrian on Sunset, the old Mondrian owned by the Ashkenazy’s, Severyn and Arnold, the first time it was cool—before the skybar. An open mic night it was that Tasha got up from the table and sang. The song still plays in my consciousness, I do not recall all of the words, but humming the melody out loud is enough to utter, “these are a few of my favorite things”—“My Favorite Things” was what Tasha Taylor sang that night. “Forget about acting,” I told her, “you should be a singer. It’s in your blood.”
The entire story, not worth telling, ends with the end of our friendship.
Almost fifteen years later the iphone received a most interesting text message. Rick Taub, a downtownster of many years and a very good bass player, was informing me that Tasha Taylor would be throwing down some serious soul at the Redwood on 2nd between Hill and Broadway—no cover! Life is so pleasantly interesting for those who bother to live it. “Yes,” I thought to myself. “I will go see what happened to the girl from all those years ago. I could have made her a movie star, she would have been perfect in “Meet The Family”, but this is so much more interesting. ”
I said goodbye to my friends after enjoying a superb dinner of sushi at a restaurant that I will not mention because there is no remuneration for doing so and I am now curious about the fate of people and establishments, if left to fate…I thought about all of this a great deal as I walked toward 2nd Street. The Redwood Bar & Grill, for those not familiar, is an establishment of times past. And the thing about establishments of times past is that they are usually of a theme of a time further past—in this case of the Herman Melville nautical variety. Since I am fond of saying that things warm my cockles, an old bar that was built to look like an even older ship, featuring a soul singer, the daughter of a legend who is no longer with us, often described as the philosopher of soul, well, it warmed my cockles.
Rick, Tokyo Mississippi, Lady GG and an extraordinary harmonica player named Dennis, who when not playing at night is one of the world’s great chefs during the day, warmed up the crowd. My thoughts drifted to LA Live being outdone, this particular night, by a bar that looks like a ship—but you see, this bar has soul. And not in any ill-spirited kind of way I wished Tim Leiweke, the President of AEG, could have been there with me knocking back a whiskey and seeing what real success and community are about. I watched Tasha, who sat in a booth next to the stage, be the hostess to people there who had come to wish her well. “She looks good. Not a kid anymore. I wonder what her life has been like the last fifteen years,” I thought consecutively to myself.
Rick introduced her, she got up and sang and she was very good. I left in the middle of the set and walked the streets of Downtown by myself. The days past on Rodeo Drive seemed like a lifetime ago, but some of the serenity had returned. And I was happy about that.