Farewell to Johnny Apple
When Johnny Apple and I first met, he appeared in the doorway of the news room in the yellow frame house on University Place that in our days was the home of The Daily Princetonian. He was poised for action, like a rocket on the launching pad, crew-cut and in need of a shave, wearing a rumpled sport coat and shirt from Langrock's, blowing smoke my way. Even then – husky, but slender in comparison with his later amplitude – he filled that doorway, and for the rest of his life he filled every doorway, and every room we shared, whether in real life or in my imagination.
Johnny once admonished me in his rough but sweet voice for referring to him as a journalist. "I'm a reporter, goddamit Milts! I go out and get the information and then I report what I find. Don't waste fancy labels on me!"
My friend "Seed" lived life large and broke a lot of rules, but his life as a reporter, friend, critic, and gourmand was always an inspiration. Even though, in his last email to me, he hung tough . . .
I hate to miss seeing you guys (in SonomaCountylast July) and
eating Catalan food but not cava; I'm a champagne man, and I seldom make
an exception (one of the few is Roederer Estate's brilliant AndersonValley
bubbly, the best in California). Cheers, old pal
. . . of course, his choice had to be "the best," like the Lowcountry food of Charleston in one of his last pieces. So I will think of him every time I raise a glass of bubbly, and every time I pick up his beloved and all-forgiving New York Times.
Afton, MN October 7, 2006