Dad You Be Killin Em: Gerald Stern

June 14, 2012

We have so much to thank our fathers for. In addition to teaching us how to ride bikes and be good sports, they’ve also been our sagely guides through life. As a small token of our affection, we’re counting down to Father's Day (this Sunday, heads up!) by celebrating our dads’ style, wit and wisdom.

What did your dad like to wear? Since finding the above visual gold of my dad and oldest brother chilling at the baby pool, I learned that my dad wore those light purple and blue pinstripe bell bottoms a lot during my brother's early years. However, despite the high level of funkiness that these wild pants might suggest about my dad's general style, he mostly wore basic and casual clothes. He was a classic jeans and button-up shirt kind of guy. That style has since transformed into khakis and sweaters with the occasional suit for business meetings. Nowadays, when he claims to dislike clothes shopping, my mom reminds him of his wildly large sweater collection that didn't just show up out of nowhere. My dad also frequents the golf and tennis courts, where his style is mostly just kind of sweaty-looking. Weird purple pants-related side note and accidental legacy: I actually have a pair of pants that look eerily similar to his.

What music did he listen to? My dad grew up in Memphis, so he listened to a lot of local country and R&B radio stations that played Elvis on repeat. He really loved Elvis and ended up seeing his first-ever outdoor concert at a country music showcase, where his set time was somewhere in the middle. My dad also saw Elvis play from the back of a pickup truck outside of a shopping center. I love my Dad's love for Elvis. We listened to Elvis' Christmas album on Christmas morning this past year. My Dad was singing along while flipping pancakes. My dad also listened to folk singers like Kris Kristofferson and Gordon Lightfoot, and he learned to play guitar by playing Woody Guthrie tunes, but the only one I ever remember him playing was "This Land Is Your Land." I'm pretty sure this is still the only song he plays. He's really good at it, although I can only remember him doing the chorus.

What would he say? Does he have a favorite phrase or saying? Something anecdote-y. My dad likes to tell the same jokes at dinner parties and to groups of friends. He's usually the one laughing the hardest. It's pretty funny to witness and maybe more funny than the actual jokes. But when I think about what I'd consider to be his favorite phrase, I think about the time he first shaved his bushy beard when I was seven. Up until then, I had only known him as my dad with a big beard and he was worried I wouldn't recognize him when he decided to shave it all off. So to prevent a minor freak out, he handed me his video camera and told me to film him shaving. He kept saying to me that he would be "the same ol daddy," and in the end, he was right. The video that came from this, which you can watch below, not only shows my dad's interest in keeping me close by during his face-changing moment, but also my blossoming interest in filmmaking.

Posted: June 14, 2012
Dad You Be Killin Em: Gerald Stern