The impetus for opening From Schmear to Eternity did not spring fully formed from my head like Athena leaping out of Zeus' noggin. In fact, it's been something my good friend Terry L and I have been talking about for some decades now.
Terry and I met through this very blog. He's from South Africa but back in the 1980s emigrated to Auckland. It was in that beautiful New Zealand city that he somehow discovered this digression of a blog.
Terry, as it turns out, is an ex-Ogilvy creative director, with two kids roughly the age of my kids. He wrote to me back around 2009. It was a note from out of the blue. He and his wife Rhona were about to visit New York and he wanted some insider tips.
We began trading notes. Sharing books, sharing music and more. We found that 8,818 miles is not too far apart to make a connection.
Then when my daughter Hannah took a semester in Auckland, Terry fairly adopted her. Since then, he's shown us around his country and our daughter Sarah as well as a number of our friends. Every third year or so, Terry and Rhona show up in New York and we find ourselves in some subterranean soup dumpling joint on Mosco Street or in some tomato stained coat closet up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
About eight months ago when I got shit-canned from Ogilvy, Terry gave me a ring. He's erudite as they come. As he and I like to boast, we have pre-emoticon vocabularies and when we meet a kindred spirit we permit ourselves to take our semantic training wheels off.
"George, maybe it's time for some career reappraisal," Terry said. "Advertising is not what it was."
"And it never will be," I answered.
"I have had a vision of sorts," Terry continued.
"More St. Augustine or Hieronymus Bosch?"
"That's a nice combo platter," he ignored. "I see us opening a bagel shop together. Less important than the bagels we sell would be the conversations we could share."
"An emanation devoutly to be wished."
"I fear, however, now that Jews number under 15 million, I think a bagel emporium need be more ecumenical."
"More catholic, small c," I clarified.
"Yes, less Jewish. The assimilated bagel."
"That in itself is an excellent name. A bit Nathan Glazer, 'Commentary' for me but I get it."
"It pales in comparison to what I have in mind. Kind of a 'One-with-everything-bagel' reflecting the larger consciousness that many of us share--like you and I, for instance."
"That sounds excellent," I said. I had more than a bit of a craving for a toasted salt with real belly lox and a thin slice of red onion.
"The name is large. It is compendious. It speaks to the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind."
"Bagel Lives Matter, as it were."
He ignored that bon mot as it deserved and continued. "Open Karma Bagels. A little Berkeley. A little pre-gentrified West Village. A little Portland, but it speaks to me."
"I like it."
"The clincher is the strap line," Terry said.
I waited as he kneaded his careful timing like a Borscht Belt veteran.
"Karma Bagels. What goes around comes around."
And with that, he clicked off of Skype.
And that was that.