365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The JOY to the Max Birthday Party

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(Photo from Unsplash)

The Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC is our destination for “The Joy to the Max Birthday Party.” Completed in 1917, this 34,000-square-foot historic home was created for Katherine Smith and R.J. Reynolds, founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Reynolda is one of the few well-preserved, surviving examples of the American Country House movement. (2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106) 

Inside the house, you’ll find not only more than 6,000 historic objects, but also a collection of world-renowned American art spanning 250 years. The art treasures include important works by Georgia O’Keefe, Romare Bearden, Martin Johnson Heade and many other greats. 

Andre’ Leon Talley, a North Carolinian, who inspired Reynolda House for our event, has selected favorites by American fashion designers featured in “Vogue” magazine for display, and German-American artist Peter Max welcomes us to a temporary show of his classic paintings including portraits of former U.S. Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. The centerpiece of “The Joy to the Max Birthday Party,” is an eight-foot-tall Peter Max painting of the Statue of Liberty which was originally unveiled in the White House Rose Garden by former first lady Nancy Reagan. 

JOIN US… 

You feel the joy as we join our party for drinks and appetizers in The Lord and Burnham Greenhouse. The conservatory, completed in 1913, holds an impressive collection of plants from around the world, including, of course, flowering tobacco, orchids, bromeliads, cacti and tropical plants. 

HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.) 

PLEASE GIVE A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THESE JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK: 

Oct. 16—ANDRE’ LEON TALLEY is a fashion journalist and the former creative director and American editor-at-large of “Vogue” magazine. He is the author of “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir.” Talley is the subject of the award-winning documentary film, “The Gospel According to Andre’.” 

Oct. 17—EVEL KNIEVEL (born Robert Craig Knievel) was a stunt performing dare devil and entertainer. Over the course of his career, he attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps. Kneivel was inducted in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. 

Oct. 18—CHUCK BERRY (Charles Edward Anderson Berry) is known as the “Father of Rock and Roll.” The singer/songwriter/guitarist refined and developed “rhythm and blues” elements into rock and roll distinction with such songs as “Maybelline,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music” and “Johnny B. Goode.” This music pioneer was one of the first inductees in the “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” 

Oct. 19—PETER MAX (born Peter Max Finkelstein) is a German American artist known for using bright, bodacious colors. He is one of the most important pop artists of our time. Max evolved from a visionary pop artist of the 1960s to a master of neo-Expressionism, and his techniques with vibrant color have become part of contemporary American culture. He is an environmentalist, vegan and supporter of human and animal rights. 

Oct. 20—LEWIS GRIZZARD (Lewis McDonald Grizzard, Jr.) was a writer and humorist, known for his southern demeanor and bemused commentary on the American South. He started his career with the esteemed “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” and became the sports editor for that newspaper when he was 23 years old.  

Grizzard also published 25 books, including collections of his newspaper columns (e.g. Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night), expanded versions of his stand-up comedy routine—and the autobiographical bestseller, “If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Going to Nail My Feet to The Ground.” One of my personal favorite Grizzard books was his collected essays on relationships, “If Love Were Oil, I’d Be About a Quart Low.” 

Oct. 21—CARRIE FISHER was a writer and actress. She is best known for playing the character, Princess Leia, in the “Star Wars” flicks for which she was nominated for four Saturn Awards. She also acted in the films: “Shampoo,” “The Blues Brothers,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “The Women.” Her writings include the semi-autobiographical, “Portraits From the Edge” and the nonfiction book, “Wishful Drinking.” 

Oct. 22—JEFF GOLDBLUM (Jeffrey Lynn Golblum) has acted in some of the biggest blockbuster movies of all time. He has also chosen to portray unconventional characters in small budget, indie, arty films. His film work includes: “The Big Chill,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Jurassic Park,” “Igby Goes Down” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Goldblum is the pianist in the jazz band, Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. 

COMMENTS OVERHEARD AT “THE JOY TO THE MAX BIRTHDAY PARTY:” 

“People need to be edited; life needs to be edited. I need to be edited.”—Andre’ Leon Talley (I’m betting this is my SUPERB editor, Olivia Law’s, favorite quote in this entire, monthslong series, so far.) 

“Bones heal, pain is temporary and chicks dig scars.”—Evel Knievel 

“It’s gotta be rock and roll music, if you wanna dance with me.”—Chuck Berry 

“I never know what I’m going to put on the canvas. The canvas paints itself. I’m just the middleman.”—Peter Max 

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”—Carrie Fisher 

“I know a lot of people who are educated beyond their intelligence.”—Lewis Grizzard 

“Oh yeah, oohing and ahhing, that’s how it always starts, but later there’s the running and screaming.”—Jeff Goldblum 

“Luxury is…to able to take control of one’s life, health and the pursuit of happiness in a way that is joyful.”—Andre’ Leon Talley 

“If a guy hasn’t got any gamble in him—he isn’t worth a crap.”—Evel Knievel 

“Of the five most important things in life, health is first, education or knowledge is second and wealth is third. I forget the other two.”—Chuck Berry 

“Don’t worry about mistakes. Making things out of mistakes, that’s creativity.”—Peter Max 

“It difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”—Lewis Grizzard 

“Sometimes you can only find heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.”—Carrie Fisher 

“As soon as you’re interested in what is good taste, then you’re in bad taste land already. What’s comfortable and what represents your life, what’s unique and individual about you, that’s style.”—Jeff Goldblum 

“I love people—it is not the fashion, it is the people in fashion I love.”—Andre’ Leon Talley 

“If you fall during your life, it doesn’t matter because you’re never a failure if you try to get up.”—Evel Knievel 

“I’m a millionaire, but I cut the grass. And each time I cut it, it’s my grass.”—Chuck Berry 

“If I didn’t choose art, I would have been an astronomer.”—Peter Max 

“In the south there’s a difference between ‘Naked’ and ‘Nekkid.’ ‘Naked’ mean you don’t have any clothes on. ‘Nekkid’ means you don’t have any clothes on and you’re up to something.”—Lewis Grizzard 

“If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”—Carrie Fisher 

“I like a pickled cucumber. A regular cucumber I’m not so interested in.”—Jeff Goldblum 

“Drekitude is the lowest point in the lowest ebb. It could be your look. It could be your shoes. It could be that you’re standing wrong. Drekitude is a total, total, total hot mess.”—Andre’ Leon Talley 

“I can say The Lord’s Prayer in 10 seconds.”—Evel Knievel 

“I would sing the blues if I had the blues.”—Chuck Berry 

“Whatever your joy is, go after it.”—Peter Max 

“There is no such thing as being too southern.”—Lewis Grizzard 

“I feel very sane about how crazy I am.”—Carrie Fisher 

“My life has been transformed by great teachers all the way.”—Jeff Goldblum 

“My grandmother and Diana Vreeland (legendary editor of “Vogue” magazine) had similar ways of appreciating luxury because they both believed in the importance of its most essential underpinning: polish.”—Andre’ Leon Talley 

“Anybody can jump a motorcycle while riding a motorcycle. The trouble begins when you try to land it.”—Evel Knievel 

“I grew up thinking art was pictures until I got into music and found I was an artist and didn’t paint.”—Chuck Berry 

“I love meeting life halfway.”—Peter Max 

“The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears and score your points when you get the opportunity.”—Lewis Grizzard 

“Instant gratification takes too long.”—Carrie Fisher 

“I love the ocean. Boats, not so much.”—Jeff Goldblum 

MENU FOR “THE JOY TO THE MAX BIRTHDAY PARTY:” 

APPETIZER—Carrie Fisher Instant Gratification Taco Dip (rachelraymag.com) 

SALAD—Chuck Berry B. Goode Salad (kristineskitchenblog.com) 

ENTRÉE—Lewis Grizzard Southern Fried Chicken Gizzards (food.com) 

SIDE DISH—Jeff Goldblum Fried Pickled Cucumbers (allrecipes.com) 

BREAD—Evel Knievel Daring Hot Jalapeno Bread (recipeland.com) 

BEVERAGE—Andre’ Leon Talley New, Old-Fashioned Cocktail (see below) 

DESSERT—Peter Max Colorful Gummy Bear Jello Cake (scrumdiddlyumptious.com) 

ONE TO GROW ON—In his memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches,” fashion icon, Andre’ Leon Talley, captures 50, sublime years of style-making from the pages of “Vogue” magazine to the runways of Paris. See the fashion world from its most glamorous to most cutthroat moments. 

“The Joy to the Max Birthday Party” moved to the billiards room at the Reynolda House for a dinner surrounded by the colorful, Americana paintings of Peter Max. Southern storyteller, Lewis Grizzard, shared some jokes, among them, this story I’d heard him drawl in the bar of The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama: 

“One mornin’, a fellow wakes up, looks out his window and sees a gorilla in a tree. He thinks, ‘Oh My Sweet Jesus in Heaven, I’ve got a gorilla in my tree. How am I evuh gonna get that thang down?’ So, he looks in the Yellow Pages and finds ‘Gorilla Tree Removal Service.’ The fellow calls ‘em up and says, ‘I’ve got a gorilla in my tree, can y’all help me get it down?’ The man who answered the phone says, ‘Yeah, it’ll cost you $55 and I’ll be there in about 10 minutes.’ Sure nuff, about 10 minutes later, the fellow shows up in a pickup truck. In the back of the truck, he had a dog named Lamar, a pair of handcuffs and a shotgun. And, he said, ‘Now, you’re gonna have to help me, here. This is how it works. I’m gonna climb up in your tree. And, I’m gonna shake the tree and the gorilla is gonna fall down out of the tree. When he hits the ground, Lamar here is gonna run over and bite the gorilla on his privates. Then, when the gorilla puts his hands down to cover his privates, you put these handcuffs on him and I’ll haul him outta here.’ The fellow says, ‘Well, awright, I’ll do that. But, lemme ask you this, what is the shotgun for?’ The man says, ‘That’s very simple. In the unlikely event the gorilla shakes me outta the tree, you shoot Lamar.’” 

After that, Jeff Goldblum pounded the piano while Carrie Fisher, Andre’ Leon Talley and Evel Knievel duck-walked and Chuck Berry rocked out: 

“You know my temperature’s risin’, 

The jukebox’s blowin’ a fuse. 

My heart’s beatin’ rhythm 

And, my soul keep-a singin’ the blues. 

Roll over Beethoven, 

And tell Tchaikovsky the news.” 

                            ANDRE’ LEON TALLEY NEW, OLD-FASHIONED COCKTAIL 

INGREDIENTS 

1 sugar cube 

2 dashes Angostura bitter 

2 ounces bourbon 

Orange twist 

INSTRUCTIONS 

  1. Muddle the sugar cube and bitters with one bar spoon of water at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass. Add bourbon. Stir. 
  1. Add one large ice cube, or three or four smaller cubes. Stir until chilled and properly diluted, about 30 seconds. Slip orange twist on the side of the cube. 
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Ben South