Jerry meets Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the two share mutual admiration. Photo courtesy Sheila Laffey

On January 8th, Jerry Rosenblum, a Santa Monica resident since 1974, will turn 98 years young. In his long and rich life Jerry has experienced countless happy days, including, when he was in the Navy at Pearl Harbor and he celebrated the end of WWII, or many decades later when he threw a gala party to celebrate his mother’s 100th birthday.

In fact Jerry’s philosophy of life includes, “Fill each day with at least one thing that you look forward to.” On the other hand, as Jerry jokingly puts it, “At my age, any day above ground, is gravy.”

Another key to Jerry’s happiness is being productive. This goes back to when Jerry’s 42-year-old father tragically passed away at the height of the Great Depression and suddenly Jerry had to be the “man of the house.” He worked constantly from ages 12 to 70, being out of work only two weeks in all those years. Interestingly, Jerry is grateful he developed a strong work ethic and feels that it has actually contributed to his longevity.

After starting it 11 years ago, Jerry has just finished his memoir, “An Angel on My Shoulder.” The title stems from the loss of his dad and his family being evicted. Somehow young Jerry imagined he had a guardian angel looking out for him, something he pretty much believes to this day. (Full disclosure, for the past10 months I’ve helped Jerry rewrite the memoir due to be published in February.)

Despite all Jerry has experienced and accomplished, last Saturday on his cellphone with me he excitedly exclaimed, “This is the happiest day of my life!” Why was Jerry so overjoyed? He had just met, chatted with and embraced Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Otherwise known on the Internet as “AOC.”)

Even though Jerry’s lived in L.A. since 1963, he was born and raised in Brooklyn and still keeps track of the news in NYC, his “home town.” So it was in early 2018 he saw a TV ad for AOC, then 28 and a waitress in a Manhattan taco bar, running in the Democratic primary for Congress’ 14th District.

The ad was entitled “The Courage To Change” (Running against a 10-term incumbent who would outspend her $15 to $1, Jerry says, “She had me at “courage.”) The video followed A.O.C. during a typical, harried day for a working-class woman trying to help support her family as Jerry had done for his.

On primary election night Jerry watched the results. At her headquarters, as votes were being counted, an aide insisted AOC look at the tote board. Jerry said, “I could almost read her lips” ‘Oh, my God, we’re going to win!’”

Being an amateur songwriter and singer, Jerry immediately began composing a song extolling A.O.C.’s virtues in hope she could use it in the general election. The melody that ran through his head was a tango “Adiós Muchachos,” which was written in 1927. Here’s the opening stanza of his “version.” (Remember to imagine the tango beat!)

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, if you’re elected, here’s what’s expected/

Lower cost on our medications, and that you’ll fight to get us free education/

With your vitality and vibrant personality, you can do it, so just hop to it.”

Jerry persuaded his marketing executive friend, Katie, 29, to use her iPhone to record his singing the song and post it on AOC’s Instagram account. (Backstory: Katie had met Jerry years ago at Silvercrest, the Salvation Army-run senior living apartment building where she volunteered. She had created an Instagram for Jerry thinking he might become a “millennials online grandfather.”)

To Jerry’s delight, AOC posted a wonderful “thank you, Jerry” response. Then in May, 2019, Jerry recorded another tune for AOC, “A.O.C.” Are Her Initials,” which Katie posted and it got 1,100,050 views in 8 hours! Jerry now has 22,000 Instagram followers. (Not bad for a 98-year-old, eh?)

Cut to early last week and my friend Matt mentioned that AOC was coming to Venice as part of a giant Bernie rally. Knowing he longed to meet AOC, I called Jerry, who called Katie who got in touch with A.O.C. who said she’d “love to meet Jerry.”

So it was in a crowd estimated to be 20,000, Jerry and Dr. Sheila Laffey, his Emeritus Film Class professor and friend who drove him, were directed to stand at a certain spot on Ocean Front Walk at 2 PM. And sure enough, on the dot, up comes A.O.C. in a security SUV.

When “Angel” is published, Jerry may have a book signing at Strand Books in Manhattan and he’s hoping A.O.C. could introduce him. “A dream come true,” Jerry says. When I noted it’s going to be tough because A.O.C. is so busy campaigning for Bernie, Jerry winked, “Maybe my guardian angel will have to work her magic.”

Google “Jerry Rosenblum YouTube” and the 4th video is A.O.C. thanking him. Jack is at jackdailypress@aol.com.

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2 Comments

  1. “maybe my guardian angel will work her magic” . In a way he’s making a good point because she’s basically the same thing and has about as much credibility as a fortune teller or psychic advisor.

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