The things we do for our friends! Heinz, for example. It was his 50th birthday last month, and last night he held a spectacular party to celebrate. Inevitably, there were oceans of champagne (the really good stuff), plus delicious cocktails (not that my liver would allow me to sample them, damn it!), and yummy food (cheese mousse served as finger food!), elegant 1950s coaches to ship 200 drop-dead gorgeous friends from the atmospheric old factory where we gathered to the mysterious party palace that turned out to be Cookie’s place (Cookie is a Berlin institution, but he’s also English…) on the Fredrichstrasse (recently renovated and much improved) where a muscly acrobat performed daring feats with a large hoola hoop and Patti Smith serenaded Heinz until midnight.
Patti was a gift from Heinz’s wife, Julia, for his 50th birthday. Heinz has always had wonderfully good taste, which he demonstrated early on by falling in love with Patti at the age of sixteen. (In stark contrast to myself, whose taste is at best, questionable, and who, at the same age, fell in love with Eric Clapton. Ach ja…)
Anyway, Julia, with a little help from well-connected friends, flew Patti and two musicians from her band over to Berlin, met her three times to plan the gig (heart-fluttering stuff for fans of the lady), managed to keep it all a secret (would you have managed it?) and at around 11pm last night, the curtain rose on nearly an hour of musical ecstasy. What a marvellous thing to do for someone you love, don’t you think?
I’ve never seen Patti live before and I don’t think I ever really got her until last night. Cameras really aren’t her friends and don’t even begin to capture her vital, tender beauty. None of the films I’d seen even hinted at the her radiant charisma and the pure joy with which she fills a room.
Heinz was in seventh heaven, as you might image. And it truly was a joy to be there with him. One of the many things I love about Heinz is that his friends are people he loves, not people who are or could be useful to him. He is genuinely humble about his many achievements and so very appreciative of everyone and everything he encounters in life. For someone as successful and comfortable as he is even to recognize the value of the Buddha’s teachings, especially these days, is itself something of a miracle. As Wim Wenders said last night, he is the sweetest of men.