Thursday, April 3, 2003

Knip's eye view


Jester's bash gives parties a good name

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Merciful heavens, we should all have a party like the one friends threw for Shirley Jester Sunday on the Mike Fink. Jester died of complications from cancer on March 8.

Musicians Ann Chamberlain, Eddie Morgan, Bob Poe and Norm Ridge - with help from coordinators Mary Armor and Patrick Korb - hosted A Celebration of Shirley's Spirit for a crowd so large there were times when it was impossible to move from one end of the room to the other.

No telling how many showed - estimates went as high as 400 - because it was a four-hour open house with a whole lot of in-and-out traffic.

As expected, there were a ton of Shirley stories: Shirley, unable to remember the address of a party Dennis Speigel was throwing, unloading her mini-piano and lugging it to the door of three strangers' houses; Shirley going home in a trench coat because she gave her dress away; Shirley howling while a very old woman beat Stan Chesley over the head with her purse; Shirley telling how her doctor told her she had a case of the crabs but she counted and there were only 23.

And, of course, the music. A ton of top musicians performed in her honor - Jack Doll, Judy James, Earl Waldman, Lee Stolar, Herb Kirschner, Lou Lausche, John Von Ohlen, Mary Ellen Tanner, all four hosts. Incredible.

"Somebody should have recorded this, because it will never happen again," said one guest.

Or, as Fink owner Shirley Bernstein said, "We celebrate Shirley because nobody ever did it better."

Or, as the mayoral proclamation proclaiming it Spirit of Shirley Day said, "She gave divas a good name."

Park it: So, you were wondering, how does Johnny Bench, the actual person, feel about Johnny's Bench, the Bats Incredible! sculpture in front of Fifth Third Bank's Fountain Square headquarters?

"What can I say? It's perfect," he said after Monday's installation. "I'd like to find a way to buy two or three for my deck at home."

The work by artist Frank Stanton and sponsored by the bank is 80 bats bolted together into a bench that seats two. The backrest has Stanton's portrait of Bench.

"It's funny, usually you see drawings of yourself and hate it. But not this one. Even I like it."

Yeah, but since the bench is functional - they want you to sit on it - it means a lotta sweaty backs smashed against his face all summer. How's that idea sitting?

"I guess it feels odd, but the bench is durable, like me. I understand it has eight coats of varnish, so I guess we'll be sanding stains off by the end of summer."

And you're going to the auction Nov. 3 to buy it?

"Yeah, right, I'd have to start collecting bottles and cans now to pay for it. I hope to talk to George Schaefer (Fifth Third CEO) and tell him what a great Christmas gift it would make for me this year."

Bookworms: Here's Don Bates' problem: He needs to sell somebody 50,000 books. Pronto.

Bates, an auctioneer who usually liquidates restaurants and stuff, is conducting the auction for Seven Hills Books, but there's no way he can do one book at a time: "I'm 77. I'd have to live to be 100. Honestly, it's the oddest lot I've ever sold."

So he's hoping somebody - or some institution - bids on the whole mess. "Me, I'm not a reader. I don't know what I'd do with 50,000 books," he said.

The auction is April 15 at Seven Hills, 1531 Treemont, Fairmount. They come to the block noonish.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com




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