Edie died over the weekend. She’d found out that she had it bad with lung cancer last summer, and kept us up to date on Facebook on all the goings on with her state of mind and body. As was her nature, Edie maintained a positive, grateful, and joking attitude to her very last post Feb 9, 2015, on the day she was admitted to the hospital and subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia. The next thing you know, her husband Eugene told us she was gone.
I haven’t seen Edie since 1991, when she performed with me in a number I put together for a show at the Comic Strip in NYC. I was doing my own hacked-up and decidedly subversive version of “PDQ Bach”-like classical music parody in live shows and on the radio at the time, and the program director at classical station WQXR invited me to perform on a “Classical Music Comedy” bill that ironically included Peter Schickele himself, the man behind “PDQ Bach”. The show was MC’d by Bob McGrath from Sesame Street and Elliot Forest, the WQXR morning DJ. A morning DJ on a classical station. Nice guy, but dry, dry, dry, dry, dry.
Bob from Sesame Street was a sweetheart, by the way, just like he is on the show.
The number I decided to perform is one of the stranger things I’ve ever recorded, and one of the only things I’ve ever recorded “lead vocals” on. A goof on a “renaissance” minstrel tune, probably the closest thing I can compare it to is Sir Robin’s minstrels in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Edie was one of the background singers at the live WQXR performance of that number, as was the late, great Michael Klausner (a SUNY Purchase classmate who was funny and talented beyond measure and died way, way too young). I had decided that the punch line for the live act would be me getting clocked in the head from behind with a “stunt” breakaway wine bottle prop by Michael, then falling to the ground unconscious and getting dragged off the stage. Michael had humiliated himself in a similar fashion for me when he played the lead role in my composition “Drunk Tenor Cantata” a couple years prior, so I wanted to return the favor.
The song, which I had been told by many people was the funniest bit on the radio show, did not work so well as a live act. There were eight or so of us dressed in renaissance garb on the cramped stand-up comedy stage with our instruments. An audience of mainly older classical music fans who had no idea who the fuck I was just sat there and stared. On the last beat of the song when Michael hit me on the head with the bottle from behind, the prop that I’d bought from a specialty prop house for fifty bucks and then lovingly shielded from harm’s way for weeks somehow ricocheted off my head and landed 10 feet away in the lap of a horrified lady in the 2nd row.. I was dragged through the room of silent, confused, and borderline hostile onlookers by Michael and Edie through the packed comedy club to the lobby. My shirt had become an ashtray.
I hid until after the show, when I went up to Peter Schickele because I just had to meet the man. He indulged me in a chat, but I know the entire time he was thinking “wow, you really sucked the wind out of the place tonight, didn’t ya, rookie?”
Edie thought the whole thing was great. She thought it was SPECTACULAR. “Bob, we did it! We performed at the Comic Strip!” The fact that it was a bomb did not cross her mind in the least.
We will miss you, Edie.