More Fun Stuff!
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When I first met Paul backstage sometime in the early 1990s, he had already evolved into his last look, a perfect variation of the great English movie comedian Alistair Sims. (Thanks for the picture gallery, by the way, where you can see the evolution.) At first, I thought he was a crank and a bit crazy, and it took me a couple of years running into him in the neighborhood to realize he was quite bright, knew his classical music, and was not really crazy at all. He was also a seriously kind soul and I grew to love him.
At the audition this year
for super parts, he was one of the dozen characters who stepped forward
to try out for the "Vlad the Impaler" role, charging forward
with a yell that was so perfectly hilarious that the crowd did the right
thing and burst into applause. I'll miss him backstage terribly, although
if there is such a thing as spirits hanging around this earth, Paul
will definitely be around the opera house basement for a while.
Paul volunteered every week
in the San Francisco Ballet School office, where I got to know him over
the last 5½ years. He and I talked extensively about movies,
literature, journalism, and the differences between our generations
(there was a 40-year age gap). He had a bawdy sense of humor and a keen
sense of observation. His stories about being backstage at the SF Opera
over a 30-year period were priceless and an amusing finale to what were
usually very long weeks. He kept the SFBS office well supplied with
candy of all kinds, much to the chagrin of some of the ballet teachers.
We often had lunch together and I looked forward to his observations,
from New Yorker articles to the latest bad "reality show"