A star is born

by Debbie Carini

When I was a kid, I thought that just about the most amazing thing that could ever happen to you would be to be on TV.

Most of all, I wanted to be waving to my legions of fans who I imagined sitting at home in their Barcaloungers. I would employ the same laser-focused intensity with which I waved to my parents whenever they turned the home movie camera on me, capturing no sound, just a jittery enthusiasm that caused my hand to flap up and down in hyper-speed.

My kids have been on TV hundreds of times—they can bring their images to the small screen via the many iterations of technology that have existed in their lifetimes—from the bulky camcorders of the early 1990s to today’s digital recording sticks (it’s all been a boon to America’s Funniest Home Videos!).

And with the explosion of video online, even a Grumpy Cat can garner more than 6 million “likes” on Facebook.

But, in 1967, my sister and I waited for a summer vacation’s worth of days for a witch (her name escapes me now) who hosted a daily cartoon show to pick a winner from a big pile of postcards that kids had mailed in. We sent in dozens, and sat, glued-to-the-television. “You’re sitting too close,” my mother would yell at us, certain we were somehow damaging our brains.

We fervently hoped she’d choose one of ours to receive a giant treasure chest of toys—and once, we actually won, but we must have been doing something else that afternoon because we never heard her read our names aloud to the viewing public. And though we enjoyed our winnings, I deeply desired that notoriety and fame. I don’t know, maybe I thought I’d end up in the Hollywood Christmas Parade behind a float carrying Lawrence Welk and a real piano that somehow spewed champagne bubbles.

I mention this because lately I’ve been able to enjoy a vestige of this dream, thanks to my son who hosts an hour-long program for his college radio station, KUPS at the University of Puget Sound, titled “Better Get It in Your Soul,” during which he plays an eclectic mix of jazz from John Coltrane to Chet Baker. This show is on-the-air twice-weekly in Tacoma, Washington and, for those of us who just want to kvell (derived from the Yiddish, meaning: burst with pride), there is live streaming on the radio’s website. My son has a wide-ranging audience with listeners as far away as Asia (classmate studying abroad) and two grandmothers.

A couple of days ago, he played a jazzy version of “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things,” and dedicated it to his grandmother from Boca Raton, Florida, who loves to go out dancing with her friend Marty. And she was listening! She called us afterwards to kvell about her grandson.

Last year, I was standing in the first-class aisle of a plane, waiting to get to my coach seat on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles, when one of the supremely fortunate first class passengers stopped me and said, “Aren’t you that columnist from the Claremont COURIER?” My 15 seconds of fame! My head got so big, they almost made me put it in the overhead compartment.

And that’s how I feel every time I hear my progeny proclaim, “This is Cooper Weissman and you’re listening to…”


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