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Saturday, July 13, 2024
MagazineLit GameBorn on the Fourth of July (or Faux Pas July?)

Born on the Fourth of July (or Faux Pas July?)

When I met Ron Kovic

In one of my more embarrassing literary moments, Eugene Ruggles, a lauded local poet who haunted the halls of the then-single-occupancy-residence Petaluma Hotel, was behind the wheelchair of his mustachioed literary cohort, famed anti-Vietnam War activist and author Ron Kovic.

Kovic’s memoir, Born on the Fourth of July, had just been adapted into the Academy Award-winning film of the same title directed by Oliver Stone. It starred Tom Cruise as Kovic, who was costumed with an era-appropriate mustache, though unusual for the generally clean-shaven actor.

Suffice it to say, this was a lot of star wattage to unpack in front of Aram’s Cafe circa 1989.

I was familiar with Kovic thanks to Cruise’s film commercials, which I saw on cable TV. This is where I also became familiar with the work of Ernie Kovacs, the innovative 1950s counterculture television comedy pioneer whose shows were re-airing on cable’s Comedy Central. Like Kovic, Kovacs was similarly mustachioed.

One can see where this is going.

So, when I happened upon them near the cafe, Ruggles, always generous (and always, in my experience, a few sheets to the wind), introduced the Golden Globe award-winning Kovic to me in his staccato and slurred pronunciation.

I could make out the two syllables of the last name—opening with a percussive K and hinged on a V—but the vowels were lost on me. The man’s mustache, however, triggered something in my unconscious that bolstered my confidence (I was new to meeting celebrities then). So, I shook the man’s hand, looked him in the eye and sincerely thanked him for his contributions to comedy.

Kovic and Ruggles looked quizzically back at me before continuing down the street.

Moments later, a few paces along my merry way, I realized why.

Happy 4th of July.

(And happy birthday, Mr. Kovic—with belated apologies—and to my brother, who is getting treacherously close to 50!).

Daedalus Howell
Daedalus Howellhttps://dhowell.com
Welcome to one man's search for meaning through media making. Whether you're an active "creative," or an artist-adjacent culture serf, perhaps you will find my (mis)adventures in the screentrade, publishing, journalism and other arts edifying and inspiring — or at least mordantly humorous. More about me here.

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