Thinking of Tibor
Some New Yorkers remember Andy Kaufman’s famous after-concert party when he invited the entire Carnegie Hall audience for milk and cookies. Well, I have not been there. But I do remember Tibor Kalman’ s equally remarkable supermarket party, ten years ago, when his long-awaited book arrived from the publisher. (Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, Booth-Clibborn, 1998)
The invite featured milk bottles in a refrigerated deli case - you could expect anything from Tibor. Arriving at the given address, I did not expect, however, to find a local Gristede’s as a party locale. Everything in the supermarket was left untouched; they only turned off the overhead lights. The place was eerily illuminated by concealed shelf lighting in the aisles. (Every supermarket has this kind of lighting – yet I have never noticed it before.) A jazz band was playing somewhere; people sipped champagne, looking at the shelves with attention worthy of a museum show.
Towards the end, Laurene and I looked for Tibor, to offer our thanks and congratulations. “Did you get a souvenir?” he asked. I did not understand. Already in wheelchair, he turned around and picked a random can from the shelf. “June peas, they are the best”, he said with satisfaction, and signed the can.
I still have this can, ten years later. Here it is.