Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Sunday, May 25, 2008


The illusion: a great actor sits on a stage after being honored by the organization arranging for his appearance and the showing of several new films.

Grateful and humble, he does his best -- and it really is good -- to entertain with conversation the critic chosen to review for everyone in the actor's presence his many strong film roles, the conversation that critic brings on stage through note cards.

Such an actor! He's got wonderful anecdotes dealing with some choice roles, an aesthetic toward his craft that he conveys with words fluttering and gliding along his hands, and a sense of presentation: where the misplaced mic should be corrected to, how to maneuver discussion to bring out
most effective commentary.

Most of all, in the audience one person, off to his left, some dozen rows back, at a side aisle, that one person laughs in honest abruptness, applauds hands at high-head level, displays his own hands, too, at or around his own face, both white in a dark audience. Those hands. They also interlace and thoughtfully point, they hold pensively to earlobe, they unconsciously stretch, the thumbs like butterfly wing points.

At the laughter, at the white-handedness, at the occasional um-hmm of agreement with an intelligent stage statement, the actor, Ben -- Sir Ben -- looks far enough to his left so that the audience member knows that he, he especially, has been noted and has gratified the great man, has given him what he acts most for.

What an actor!

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