Matthew O’Grady isn’t the only East End resident who was a close friend of Jonathan Larson. Montauk singer-songwriter Lynn Blumenfeld, a principal in the marketing, advertising and web design firm Blumenfeld and Fleming, also went to high school with him and in the ‘80s, was a frequent visitor to his New York City apartment which served as the inspiration for “Rent.”
“I was in that apartment all the time. I told my dad, ‘Jon Larson has the coolest apartment. It’s got a bathtub in the kitchen.’ My dad said, ‘that’s a cold water flat,’” Blumenfeld recalled in a recent interview. “There’s a whole scene in ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ with an annoying marketing lady. In a way, I was the annoying marketing lady.”
Blumenfeld credits Larson with having a huge impact on her career. He helped her produce the jingles she wrote that scored her a first big job in advertising and it was largely through his encouragement that she ended up pulling back on advertising in order to pursue music.
“I didn't know about his death until the day after he died. Within two weeks, I went part time at my job and started writing music,” said Blumenfeld, who notes that in “Tick, Tick… Boom!” it’s as if there was a time bomb counting down the time left for Larson to achieve success on Broadway.
“He was thinking you have a time a constraint. But none of us knew Jonathan’s heart was the one that would explode,” said Blumenfeld. “He was magnificently talented.
“What I feel about it now is, we don’t know how big an effect we have on each other,” she added. “We’re all so connected. Jon's life changed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s, but Matthew’s life changed Jon’s. Here I am in a rock band late in life because Jon gave me permission in my 30s to dip my toe in the life.”
One fine body…