In homage to Kathi Kamen Goldmark, who died in May, Sherith Israel on California Street was festooned on Monday with all things leopard - pin-on ribbons, programs, tablecloths, napkins and plates - and crowded with folks who had heeded the gathering announcement's note ("sequins, leopard print and vamp attire permitted"). Many boldfaced names were there, as a few folks reminded me the next day, when I pondered what to say about a memorial that was, like its honoree, genuine and glitzy at once.
Goldmark had worked as an author escort, editor and music producer, then as a longtime producer of "West Coast Live." All of this brought her into contact with boldfaced names, and among her many feats, she organized the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band of famous authors. Musicians and writers were at her memorial, along with family members, co-workers and acquaintances, and it looked like - such a huge gang - just about everyone she'd ever met. As it was said there, that was what Goldmark was like: If you encountered her, you were an acquaintance; if you were an acquaintance, you became a friend; if you were a friend, you became a lifelong soul sister/brother.
Kathi, who wanted to call a book she and her husband, Sam Barry, were working on about her breast cancer and his colon cancer "Tits and Ass," Kathi, who persuaded Amy Tan to don dominatrix gear and sing "These Boots Are Made for Walking," Kathi, who dispensed good food, good humor and kazoos with equal generosity, wasn't a halfway sort of person.
But if it seemed she loved everyone, the love she felt for her son, Tony Goldmark, was visibly 10 times as intense. She glowed when she spoke of him, lauded his accomplishments as a songwriter and creative person, encouraged and nurtured his every endeavor.
So when he began his remarks with the warning that he was likely to be emotional, but "I must speak from the heart," it was when I could most picture her at this solemn hullabaloo of a ritual. "What kind of house of worship," he said, his voice rising with the question, "offers no free parking?"
Somewhere, Kathi - performer, star, catalyst and a great audience, too - was laughing.
(Originally published as part of my SFGate column today. Read the full colum here.)
Causes Leah Garchik Supports
Home Away From Homelessness, Performing Arts Workshop, Music in the Schools Today