Carnes: The ﬁne art of being Art
I met Art Kittay back in the mid-’80s in West Vail, where the Kittay family quickly became loyal video store customers, with Art firmly establishing himself as my favorite Jewish critic of the latest flicks.
The man had an opinion on every movie in the store (whether he had seen it or not) and never held back a word when he was in the mood to share that opinion, which was (much) more often than not.
I’m always sure to include the word “Jewish” whenever describing Art Kittay because, well, because Art Kittay was, to me, the epitome of a Jewish man, as both a religion and a culture.
He wore it on his sleeve, so to speak.
We spent years slowly getting to know each other on a personal level, and it would have taken many more for me to ever catch up with his knowledge of politics, both local and international.
The man loved to talk.
When I was on the Avon Town Council in the mid-’90s, Art was the jolly, smiling, non-stop talking machine that would hang out every so often at a store I had in Avon. He would walk right up to the counter, ask me a generally vague question about a specific subject usually concerning the town of Avon, patiently wait for my reply and then spend the next half-hour telling me why he agreed or why I was wrong.
When a customer would approach (to actually purchase something, which I’m pretty sure Art rarely did), he would notice me making eye contact with said customer, stop himself in mid-sentence, and say, “Oh, you want to buy something?”
He did this with perfectly stereotyped hand gestures (a la Jackie Mason) and strong emphasis on the word “buy” and then take a giant step back, allowing ample room for the customer and me to complete a transaction.
The very nanosecond the customer turned away from the counter, Art would reclaim his spot and pick up exactly where he left off, without missing a beat.
This process repeated itself many times over the years, and although we didn’t always agree, I know I became a better analyzer of political situations because of it.
The past decade or so, we’ve basically kept in touch via e-mail (I even have a “Kittay” folder in my inbox), but I’m sad to say it’s been a few years since we talked face to face. I am in my 11th year of writing this column every Tuesday, yet rarely has a Tuesday gone by when I did not receive a (usually witty) comment, sometimes just one or two words, from Art.
If he liked it, he’d say so. If he didn’t, he’d say so.
Every once in a while, like when Vail would be in the midst of a really nasty offseason snowstorm, he would send me a photo of his sunset out in Palm Desert.
Absolutely priceless dry
Once a week, he would send me a link to the latest Jackie Mason video blog tirade. Some were funny, but mostly, they were annoying, yet I watched each one because they came from Art, and if he liked it, then I always wanted to at least give it a chance.
He sent me one just last week, along with three other e-mails about political issues. Saturday I received one from his wife, Marcie, telling me of his passing.
Arthur Kittay was a very proud man, and I feel proud to have called him a friend.