Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Fame, Fortune, and Four Wives

A MyHeritage Journey: Let's see. In reverse chronological order, Abq Jew has historically and genealogically written about Simon Typograph and Morris Rosenfield; The Dutch Jews at Sobibor; The Iasi Pogrom; Aunt Bea and Ronnie Gilbert; and Schelly Dardashti.

Aerial view of the Bell Labs Holmdel, New Jersey Complex

But this story is big - as big as the Bell Labs Holmdel Complex, pictured above.

Where, once upon a time, Abq Jew worked as a Technical Writer - a Word Man, as he was even then known - on some furshlugginer (that's a technical term) project that got nowhere but was nevertheless a lot of fun for about a year, working with some really great people.

And it was practically next door to Mr & Mrs Abq Jew's home in Aberdeen. In New Jersey terms, this was spectacular. No Parkway, no Turnpike. NO COMMUTE!

For those who have never been, Wikipedia tells us:
The Bell Labs building in Holmdel is an architectural heirloom, designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, with a proud and distinguished history. For 44 years it was the home of an advanced research lab owned successively by Bell Telephone, AT&T, Lucent, and Alcatel.
The Biggest Mirror Ever, Six Floors of Terror
The centerpiece of the campus is an Eero Saarinen designed structure that served as the home to over 6,000 engineers and researchers. This modernist building, dubbed "The Biggest Mirror Ever" by Architectural Forum, due to its mirror box exterior, was the site of at least one Nobel Prize discovery, the laser cooling work of Steven Chu. 
The building has undergone renovations into a multi-purpose living and working space, dubbed Bell Works by its redevelopers. Since 2016 it has been operated by Nokia, and the former Bell Labs complex has been experiencing a renaissance as a business incubator for high-tech startup companies. 
The complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

As for that "The Biggest Mirror Ever, Six Floors of Terror" thing. 

Inside, all six floors looked over a deep, cross-shaped atrium, with sky-bridges and perimeter walkways connecting the building's four pavilions. Abq Jew very happily worked on the ground level, and didn't have to venture near the abyss.

Outside, all six floors were covered in glass, which many, many birds could not see. And into which they regularly crashed and died - even though AT&T eventually installed delightful owl decoys (literally) all over the place.

"Wait a minute!" Abq Jew hears you cry.

"Where's the genealogy?"

Ready? Here we go!

It seems that around the time that Abq Jew was working at AT&T Holmdel - and for the longest time afterward - there was this guy, Billy Joel, who was acquiring fame and fortune in the music business.

And wives - eventually, four. But that's another story.

His big hit of that historical moment, Abq Jew recalls, was The Longest Time. Which the project team thought was absolutely the best song Billy had ever done. Abq Jew still thinks that.

Note: This video is going on 36 million views!
The Longest Time is a doo-wop single by Billy Joel. The song was released as a single in 1984 as the fourth single from the 1983 album An Innocent Man. Following the theme of the album in paying tribute to Joel's musical influences, the song is presented in the style of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. 
The song features Joel on lead vocals and all backing vocals. Two musical instruments are present in the song: a bass guitar and a snare drum being played with brushes. When the song is covered by vocal groups, the bass part is typically sung. 
All other sounds in the song are Joel's vocals, along with percussive sounds such as finger snaps and hand claps. Phil Ramone and Joel had intended to feature a vocal group but Joel recorded each of the parts himself.

Oh, yeah. Genealogy.

At some point earlier this week, Abq Jew was futzing around (that's a technical term) on his 6,000-person MyHeritage Family Tree (he does that a lot).

And somehow, following a process that cannot be explained or replicated and a train of thought that long ago ran off the rails, Abq Jew found himself relatively connected to

William Martin (Billy) Joel, The Piano Man

Yes, The Word Man and The Piano Man are, relatively speaking, relatives. Separated by a mere 17 degrees (and very little blood). Who knew?

No, Abq Jew does not expect to inherit - or, at least, not for long - especially since Billy is only 467 days (11,208 hours; 672,480 minutes) older. As if the Holy One, Blessed Be He, strictly follows actuarial tables.

Billy is now "on" (as they say) Wife #4, Alexis Roderick Joel, with whom he has two beautiful (how could they be otherwise?) daughters. Plus one (also beautiful, of course) daughter with Uptown Girl Christie Brinkley.

And speaking of beautiful daughters - Abq Jew sends his warmest greetings to his dear relatives (a Kevin Baconish 6 degrees away), the women of the Pearl family (whom he has never actually met), but who are gatekeepers on Abq Jew's pathway to Billy Joel, a mere 11 steps away.

Incidentally - Billy Joel is still playing to SRO crowds at Madison Square Garden, Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park, and other large gathering places.

Get your tickets here!

And while we're talking about Jewish genealogy ....

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