Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

My Photos in Transforming Community – Disability Exhibition

Laurie says:

I am very happy to have 2 photos in the Transforming Community: Disability, Diversity and Access exhibition at the Westbeth Gallery in New York City.

It takes place during the 2015 Women’s Caucus of the Arts National Conference, which explores access and difference in its many forms. It runs from February 7th to the 22nd.

Quote is from the WCA exhibition information:

Disability challenges all facets of art and its accessibility: experiencing art, art education, interacting with art(ists), and art making. What are new ways of seeing, hearing, experiencing, and witnessing artwork? In the past, disability has functioned as a metaphor to signify tragedy, injury, oppression, and lack. Disabled people in representation held the space of the plucky survivor, the trickster figure, and the liminal shadow. In more recent decades, different perspectives with different cultural frameworks are emerging in the broader community.
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Kim Manri
Kim Manri was photographed in her studio. She is the director of Taihen, a famous Japanese disability dance and performance company. I photographed her a part of my Women of Japan Project.

How do artists find space, time and audiences for expressing artful differences, whether these differences be physical, cognitive, emotional or sensory? How do forms of difference encourage new connections, new conceptions of what it means to be alive, to be in community, to be alone, to be part of the wider world? How do different experiences of the world re-shape what art can mean? How do conceptions of race, gender, class, settler/native status, and sexuality become more powerfully expressed when combined with disability or vice versa? We welcome engagement on this topic under the widest possible umbrella.”
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Edison_Sue H
Sue H was an activist on issues of Fat Liberation and disability when I photographed her for my book Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes.

The juror was Petra Kupers, a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a Professor at the University of Michigan, who has written illuminatingly on these issues.

This broad and nuanced conversation about disability is very important to me and to my work (the photographs span from 1994 to 2005), and exhibitions like this happen all too rarely. So I am especially glad that my work is part of it.

Four Sisters, Forty Years, Four Connected Lives

Laurie and Debbie say

We were both taken with this series of photographs by Nicholas Nixon. In 1975, he was visiting his wife’s family, and he asked her and her three sisters if they would pose for a photograph. The next year at a wedding, he asked them to pose again in the same order. And then they made it a yearly tradition.

Now, they have forty annual photographs of four women: Heather, Mimi, Bebe, and Laurie, the Brown sisters. Bebe is Nixon’s wife.
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browns1987

1987 Chatham

Susan Minot’s article provides the basic facts about the photographs. We recommend that you ignore her gender-essentialist, ageist simplifications and just look at the pictures.
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2000 Eastham

Nixon chose to make these photographs about the women, and not about the photographer. The women almost certainly had a lot to do with that decision; these do not look like women you could easily manipulate. Everyone’s life gets written into our bodies and our faces as we age, and this is a rare opportunity to watch that being written, year on year. It’s no surprise that they each look more complex and interesting as they age, and the photos get even more satisfying.

The Brown sisters appear in these photographs as women with full, complex lives who take themselves seriously, women who are connected with their sisters, women who are comfortable enough with themselves to interact directly with the camera.
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2011 Truro

Give yourself a present; take the time to look at them all.

Thanks to Lynn Kendall for the link.

Hard Work and Performance: Beauty Across the Decades

Debbie says:

This video from cut.com has had 16 million views, so chances are you’ve seen it:

To get the obvious out of the way, what the video calls “beauty” is a specifically Western high-fashion concept of beauty, probably researched in fashion magazines. The model (Nina Carduner) is white and thin and reasonably young. Her scrawny collarbones remain the same as everything above the neck changes.

Here’s why it’s worth writing about:

First, the premise: instead of just showing Carduner in the various decade “looks,” the video also shows how much work it takes to create the looks. Beauty is depicted as the result of effort, not on the part of the model (who would be working a lot more if she was really maintaining any one of those looks on a daily basis), but on the part of fast-moving, skilled stylists (Shyn Midili doing makeup and Juel Bergholm doing hair). They even put in the detail of Carduner disliking the 1980s hairspray. You can’t watch the video and come away thinking that beauty is “just something that happens.”

Second, the performance: I love the way Carduner inhabits the facial expressions and body language of the various decades, though a couple seem a little odd to me (what is she doing in the 1970s shot?). “Beauty” is not just looks but a style of actions; a quirk of the lip, a tilt of the head, a widening of the eyes. If you try to imagine Carduner’s 1920s face and 1980s gestures

Beauty is work, and the work of more than one person. And it is performative. And cut.com could easily have gone along with the simplistic mainstream concept of beauty, and made a video that left out both of those points.

Because they didn’t take the easy route, it’s worth watching.

Photomicrography: Beauty We Never See

Laurie says:

I’ve always loved photomicrography images. The best of them are exquisite images of an unseen world that surrounds us.

Nikon has a Small World contest every year for the best of these images.  Celebrating its 40th year, the contest invites photographers and scientists to submit images of all things visible under a microscope.

There are 100 amazing images on the site. The five below are an almost random choice.

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Entry26124_Marco_DalMaschio_brain-slice

Dr. Marco Dal Maschio
Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology
Munich, Germany
Subject Matter:
Sagittal brain slice showing cell nuclei (cyan) and Purkinje cells (red) expressing EGFP

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Entry27083_Jose_Almodovar_acaro-mite

José R. Almodóvar
University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Mayaguez Campus
Biology Department
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, USA
Subject Matter:
Mite

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Entry26821_Igor_Siwanowicz_shrimp_2

Dr. Igor Robert Siwanowicz
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Janelia Farm Research Campus
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Subject Matter:
Appendages of a common brine shrimp

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Entry26682_Margaret_Oechsli_phosphofructokinase

Dr. Margaret Oechsli
Nature, Interrupted
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Subject Matter:
Phosphofructokinas

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Entry26670_Magdalena_Turzanska_nowellia-curvifolia_3

Magdalena Turzańska
University of Wroclaw
Institute of Experimental Biology
 Wroclaw, Poland
Subject Matter:
Nowellia curvifolia (leafy liverwort) gametophyte

 

These are just a taste of the exhibition.  It’s worth taking some time to contemplate a kind of beauty that is rarely seen.

Racecraft: A Must-Read Book

Laurie and Debbie say:

Laurie found the book Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields) through an interview with Barbara Fields conducted by Ta-Nehisi Coates. When she read it, she started exhorting everyone around her to read it, including Debbie. Now, we are both exhorting you to read it. The news is yet again so horrifyingly full of the tragic and unforgivable effects of racism and racecraft: in Ferguson, in New York, in your communities and ours.

racecraft-max_221-f1c6c1580d34a0cbcd634ae9bb25b434Karen and Barbara Fields are sisters. Karen Fields is a sociologist working as an independent scholar and Barbara Fields is a professor of history at Columbia University. They are, to use their preferred term, Afro-American. Their joint analysis of racism and inequality is fresh, compelling, challenging, and paradigm-changing.

The book relies on two underlying premises: first, that although it is commonly agreed that “race” is a social construct, almost none of us take this concept to heart. If we did, we would not use the word “race.” “If the scientific logic is indeed non-racial, the folk classification ought to wither under its influence. To adhere to both old and new is to pick up and put down modern science with shameless promiscuity.”

The second premise is that the concept of “race,” however fictional, is a pillar of American thought. The title word “racecraft” was chosen for its relationship to “witchcraft,” specifically because witchcraft was something scientifically unreal and untrue which nonetheless saturated every aspect of life for many centuries, in many cultures … and then effectively went away in much of the world, forcing an entire rethinking of language, thought, and everyday assumptions. Once you accept a concept such as witchcraft, it becomes part of the unexamined structure of your culture. Africanist scholars habitually “grant the rationality of witchcraft despite its dependence on presuppositions that are demonstrably false according to modern science.” The Fields argue that the same must be done to examine racecraft.

The term race stands for the conception or the doctrine that nature produced humankind in distinct groups, each defined by inborn traits that its members share and that differentiate them from members of other distinct groups of the same kind but of unequal rank. … Fitting actual humans to any such grid inevitably calls forth the busy repertoire of strange maneuvering that is part of what we call racecraft. The nineteenth-century bio-racists’ ultimately vain search for traits with which to demarcate human groups regularly exhibited such maneuvering. Race is the principal unit and core concept of racism.

Racism refers to the theory and the practice of applying a social, civic, or legal double standard based on ancestry, and to the ideology surrounding such a double standard. … Racism is not an emotion or state of mind, such as intolerance, bigotry, hatred, or malevolence. If it were that, it would easily be overwhelmed; most people mean well, most of the time, and in any case are usually busy pursuing other purposes. Racism is first and foremost a social practice, which means that it is an action and a rationale for action, or both at once. Racism always takes for granted the objective reality of race, as just defined, so it is important to register their distinctness. The shorthand transforms racism, something an aggressor does, into race, something the target is, in a sleight of hand that is easy to miss. …

Distinct from race and racism, racecraft does not refer to groups or to ideas about groups’ traits, however odd both may appear in close-up. It refers instead to mental terrain and to pervasive belief. Like physical terrain, racecraft exists objectively; it has topographical features that Americans regularly navigate, and we cannot readily stop traversing it. … Do not look for racecraft, therefore, only where it might be said to “belong.” Finally, racecraft is not a euphemistic substitute for racism. It is a kind of fingerprint evidence that racism has been on the scene.

Before this work, the argument “there is no such thing as race” was an argument for “color-blindness,” for using “equality” as a reason to refuse to recognize racism. The Fields, however, reject the concept of race while completely believing in the devastating power of racism. Looking at the concept of “post-racial America,” they say, “Whatever the ‘post’ may mean in ‘post-racial,’ it cannot mean that racism belongs to the past. Post-racial turns out to be — simply — racial, which is to say, racist.” To carry this one step further, simply using the word “race” in daily life is a way of reinforcing and supporting racecraft.

To believe in race, we must believe in racial differences in blood: their kind of blood, our kind of blood.

Understood as kin and as kind, blood inhabits the profoundest layer of mystique that humanity has carried with it from time immemorial. As a natural substance, blood is far older than the mystique, and entirely independent of it. … “The scientifically established universal truth,” declared the anthropologist Ashley Montagu, fuming over the Nazis’ efforts to read the evidence otherwise, “is that all human beings, no matter of what creed or complexion they may be, are of one and the same blood.”

By contrast, metaphorical blood and dispense with the moving parts of natural blood and has always had everything to do with human groups. When nature made room for human society, human beings made room for nature in society. And blood made in society by human beings has properties that nature knows nothing about. It can consecrate and purify: it can also profane and pollute. It can define a community and police the borders thereof. Natural blood never does that sort of thing: it only sustains biological functioning. If it is to perform metaphorical tasks, human beings must carry out those tasks on its behalf.

Barbara Fields, talking about the relationship between racecraft and witchcraft, says:

I have been struck over and over again by such intellectual commonalities … as circular reasoning, prevalence of confirming rituals, barriers to disconfirming factual evidence, self-fulfilling prophecies, multiple and inconsistent causal ideas, and colorfully inventive folk genetics. And to these must be added varieties of more or less legitimized collective action such as gossip, exclusion, scapegoating, and so on, up to and including various forms of coercion (which is to say that the logical and methodological byways of racecraft, like those of witchcraft, are rife with dangers to body as well as to mind). Taken together, such traits constitute a social world whose inhabitants experience (and act on) a marrow-deep certainty that racial differences are real and consequential, whether scientifically demonstrable or not. Obviousness is the hallmark of such a world.

Writing less than two weeks after the acquittal of police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Mike Brown, and the same day as the acquittal of police officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner was completely captured on video, one can hardly deny that racecraft is “rife with dangers to body,” dangers which people who are not the victims of racism do not face.

The Fields are, as you can see, remarkable writers in the realm of theory, but they are also eloquently specific: about details of racism in recent American history, about their grandmother’s experiences, and about how witchcraft and racecraft play out in various everyday lives. Here’s an account they took from sociologist Emile Durkheim about members of the Kangaroo clan in Africa:

A Kangaroo, shown a photograph of himself by anthropological investigators, uses his relationship to his own photograph to illustrate for them his relationship to the kangaroo. “Look who is exactly the same thing as I,” he tells them. “Well! It is the same with the kangaroo.” Durkheim adds that “the Kangaroo was his totem,” which is to say that he traced his descent through membership in a clan with the name “Kangaroo” and was as much like his fellow clansmen as he was like the kangaroo. Such statements must not be taken, Durkheim warns, in their “everyday empirical” sense. The Kangaroos do not resemble the kangaroo, nor do they necessarily resemble one another. Moreover, they do not resemble one another (or differ from White Cockatoos, for instance) in ways that would give both groups internally unifying and mutually exclusive common traits. What makes them alike is the abstract notion of common essence.”

And it is that “abstract notion of common essence,” not in Kangaroo and White Cockatoo clan members, but in you and me and our neighbors, which the Fields are examining, challenging, and destroying. The book is vastly more nuanced, layered, and rich that we can convey here. Even when you find yourself disagreeing with something they say, you will still find it illuminating and find yourself examining the complexities.

Read Racecraft.

Body: My Photograph Juror’s Choice in Budapest Exhibition

Laurie says:

I was delighted when I heard that my photograph Debbie Notkin and Tracy Blackstone from Women En Large was the juror’s choice in Body, an international photography exhibition at the PH1 Gallery in Budapest, curated by Zsolt Bátori.  One of the reasons in that the overall quality of the exhibition is thoughtful and excellent.

From PH21:

It is always inspiring to see how photographers approach an exhibition theme from different creative angles. Photographic depictions of the human body range from the aesthetic through the documentary to mystic uncertainty, renewing, commenting on or criticizing received modes of expression…

The human body has been the central subject of various photographic genres. From documentary, event and street photography to fashion photography and the nude, photographers have always found ways of constructing images in which the specific portrayal of the human body gains significance. That significance may stem from the rich layers of meanings emerging from specific socio-cultural contexts, the visual interaction of the human body with the surrounding physical space, or the intriguing compositional possibilities offered by the body itself. Some explore movements, study expressive gestures and postures, some concentrate on the anatomical beauty, some narrate whole lives through the depiction of the human body. Others may offer stern visual criticism of our normative conceptions of the human body and the ways it is portrayed in mainstream Western media.
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body_invitation_small1..

I read the juror’s critique of my photograph this evening and it’s one of the most sensitive and perceptive commentaries I’ve received on a photograph.

Laurie Toby Edison’s Debbie Notkin & Tracy Blackstone is the juror’s choice of this exhibition. This complex image incorporates several layers of photographic meaning. Our initial reaction to the calm composition might be to contemplate the symmetry of the image and the captivating texture of the curtain that takes up a significant portion of the photograph, providing an excellent nonfigurative background for the shapes of the two women on the couch. The lighter inner part of the two sides of the curtain lead our eyes down to the two figures emerging from the darker shades of the blanket on the couch. As we are drawn to the faces, it might even take some time to realize that the two bodies are in the nude. Indeed, it is one of the most powerful aspects of this image that nudity is portrayed in such a “natural” and subdued manner that it goes without saying – almost even without registering on our perception. It may take some extra effort to understand why the nudity of the figures is not more salient, despite also being an identifying thematic and visual feature of the photograph. The secret might lie in the bright serenity in the look of the two women. Their expressions are filled with such joy and peacefulness that the image simply washes all received – and often oppressively reinforced – social conceptions of the human body light years away. Social criticism is delivered in a serious, beautifully composed but at the same time effortlessly cheerful photograph.

Thanksgiving 2014

Debbie says:

It’s a hard day to write a Thanksgiving post. Our hearts and our thoughts are with the Brown family, the people of Ferguson, and dark-skinned people throughout the United States. Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”  I’m not a religious person, but that quotation always resonates with me, and rarely more strongly than now.

And, at the same time, there are things to be thankful for, in the world, in the United States, and in each of our lives. Here are a few that caught our eyes in the course of the year.

bechdel_jen
Alison Bechdel, who made her splash with the brilliant long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and went on to write graphic memoirs about her father (Fun Home) and her mother (Are You My Mother?) won a Macarthur “genius” grant.

In October, Germany made college tuition free for everyone–including people from other countries.

In the U.S., gay marriage is legal in 35 states, pending in nine more, legal-with-court-challenges-pending in six more, and recognized from other states in Missouri. Sixty-four percent of Americans live in states where they can marry a person of the gender they prefer. More than 25 states which accept gay marriage now did not allow it in 2013.

Even in such a bad election year for progressives, the minimum wage made huge strides, being raised in four states and many municipalities, including my own city of Oakland.

Polio is very much on the decline, with only parts of three countries throughout the world being at significant risk, another strain seems to have been eradicated. Wild poliovirus type 2 was officially declared gone in 1999 and no cases of wild poliovirus type 3 have been reported since November 2012 from Nigeria. What’s more, the evidence is mounting that the global polio eradication effort is making it easier to tackle other infectious diseases, including Ebola.

We are finally getting some traction in getting antibiotics out of the American food chain, particularly with this news from the country’s largest chicken producer.

He didn’t start it this year, but 2014 is the year that people began really noticing and celebrating Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man who figured out how to bring affordable sanitary pads to the women of India, starting with his wife, and has consistently maintained his commitment to having women produce the pads themselves and keep the profits at home, rather than selling out to big corporations.

And where but the Netherlands would people start using ocean thermal to heat their town, and especially the town’s poorest residents?

As always, we’ll take Thanksgiving weekend off to eat good food and relax with our families (blood and chosen). We hope you are doing the same.

Leslie Feinberg: Art in the Teeth of All

Laurie says:

I have tremendous admiration for someone who creates art in spite of everything. And as an artist, especially if they must change their art to adapt to the confines of physical limitations. These photographs from the Screened-In Series were made by Leslie Feinberg, the transgender warrior who died last week.

We posted about Feinberg’s work and life here.

This post is about the art ze created in her serious illness. Ze wrote about it in Casualty of an Undeclared War.

She wrote about the work on the Flicker Series page.

These are the first in a series of photographs, many of which are from my vantage point from behind the screen and windows of my apartment in the Hawley-Green neighborhood of Syracuse, where I live with my spouse Minnie Bruce Pratt. [Syracuse is in New York State, northeast United States].

Illness keeps me home, much of the time in a darkened room. Dawn, dusk and dark are the least painful times for me to make photographs.
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feinberg1
Winter Scene
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I first made photos when I became more disabled. See my flickr profile for my statement about when and why I began making photo art.

I decided right away that I wasn’t going to “take” pictures, I was going to make them. When I could get outside, I would ask permission before making a photo–from loved ones and strangers–and then show them the photo and delete it if they didn’t like it for any reason.

But I have become increasingly confined by illness to home. I can’t ask permission.

So I decided not to use what photographers call “good glass” or to use a telescopic lens. I’ve only used a palm size digital camera for this series.
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feinberg 3
Orange Porch
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And I’ve paid conscious attention to distance, angle, composition, time of day, shadow, blur, manipulation of pixels and other techniques to protect the anonymity of my neighbors.

Alone and with help I have begun posting photos daily, or weekly, to this series. These photographs are my gifts to you for your personal use. All of my photographs are under Creative Commons copyright: attribution/source location, no derivative use, no commercial use.

–Leslie Feinberg
Aug. 26, 2011
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feinberg2
Snow Scene
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There are many ways to tell a story against the odds.

Mourning a Transgender Warrior on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Laurie and Debbie say:

Leslie Feinberg died five days ago, of complications of Lyme disease and related tick-borne illnesses. November 20 (still today on the West Coast of the U.S.) is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. While this somber day is about remembering trans people who have been murdered for being trans, it is also a most fitting day to remember Leslie Feinberg, who died not by murder but by the medical establishment’s bigotry .

Feinberg was a tireless fighter for revolutionary justice for all people, and identified as an “anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist.”

stone-butch-bluesx400

Hir obituary describes hir autobiographical novel, Stone Butch Blues as “a groundbreaking work about the complexities of gender,” a near-perfect description. Both of us remember reading Stone Butch Blues when it was relatively new, and being struck by … so many things. How ze was not only a good writer, but also a clear thinker. How clearly ze delineates the working-class Buffalo gay culture where ze grew up, and how class is a central part of the story. How — in a time where being gay was more dangerous than it is now, being butch was flaunting the refusal to pass, and being trans or genderqueer was rarely acknowledged and given very little space even in queer culture — ze managed to examine the complexities of being butch and trans, being working class and queer, being stone and loving.

Shauna Miller, writing at The Atlantic, talks about the importance of Stone Butch Blues, and what she learned from it.

… the depth and beauty of Stone Butch Blues comes from the way Feinberg takes the reader down the path of realizing what butch identity means—and what safety and self-acceptance inside that identity means—with her. Jess’s identity is so much more than her appearance. It’s more than her choice to work in a male-dominated factory world. It’s more than those simple and severely punished offenses against both womanhood and manhood. It’s more than the fistfights with other butches as a desperate attempt at intimacy, more than disappointing her great love, Theresa, with her emotional and intimate distance. By the end of this book, butch identity comes from letting love’s light trickle through a crack in the armor. But first the reader needs to understand where all the armor came from. “I felt as though I was rushing into a burning building to discover the ideas I needed for my own life,” Jess writes. That’s heavy gear to carry.

Feinberg believed that her death was directly attributable to “bigotry, prejudice and lack of science,” both because of the extra difficulties transgender people face in receiving good care, and the absolute failure of contemporary medicine to acknowledge and treat chronic Lyme disease and its related co-infections. Her multi-part essay, “Casualty of an Undeclared War” goes into substantial detail about this.

Feinberg was never one to let someone else have the last word. From hir obituary:

In a statement at the end of her life, she said she had “never been in search of a common umbrella identity, or even an umbrella term, that brings together people of oppressed sexes, gender expressions, and sexualities” and added that she believed in the right of self-determination of oppressed individuals, communities, groups, and nations.

Swan Lake, Music, Dance and Love

Lynne Murray says:

My old friend, B, who is fighting to keep pursuing her photography work through many obstacles, has recently found that classical music helps calm her during a stretch of depression. We have been friends for over 40 years, and I share some of her challenges: illness, severe income loss, and mourning the absence of a nearby family support network. Poverty being what it is, for her to get a radio strong enough to receive the local classical radio station is not so simple. She asked if I had an antenna that would help, but I don’t have the right kind. I do have one classical CD, which I will lend her until radio access is established. I played it one more time before lending it to her and it reminded my why, I, one of the most musically challenged people in the world, bought it to begin with.

It’s The Essential Tchaikovsky and I bought it for this track.

It has a special meaning for me. My parents grew up in small Midwestern towns in the 1930s where music lessons were a rite of childhood and a badge of middle-class upward mobility. Also, I suspect, a rudimentary form of daycare. As long as the kid was practicing a musical instrument, you had ongoing feedback that she/he was home and not getting into mischief.

I grew up “spoiled,” as they would call it in the 1950s. I was an only child till age 12, and my parents would have made some sacrifice to get lessons if I had ever demonstrated the tiniest aptitude for music or dance.

I enjoyed music in small doses, but words and stories captivated me. When I could count, although not yet read, I had some records of Disney stories. My parents pasted stars on the label to indicate sequence, so I could play them on my own. Another form of low-cost daycare! I know some writers who can (and do) offer a play list of music they listen to while writing. But I can’t write with music on as a background. It’s as if I can immerse myself in words or music, not both at once.

I’m self-educated in music, though I never developed the overwhelming passion for it that I did for literature. When I turned 14, I sought out, for example, a Time-Life Records boxed set of classical musical masterpieces–the kind with one vinyl LP per composer. That same summer (1963) I persuaded my long-suffering mother to drive me in to Los Angeles (about an hour’s drive each way) to see the Royal Ballet at the Shrine Auditorium. It was pretty cool. We saw Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev dance in Giselle and later in Swan Lake.

I think my very modest, Iowa-born mother was a little distressed by the men in tights with dance belts. That part of it piqued my interest–which probably added to her discomfort. We had very good seats, close enough to see the sweat and greasepaint. What I liked best might have been what bothered her most.

My father later told me he was surprised that she didn’t like it, as she loved music and other kinds of dance. It was characteristic that my mother would tell my father if she didn’t like something and he would let me know. She really, really didn’t want me to be angry with her, and I often was–possibly because I knew she would tolerate it.

Anyway, soon after we saw Swan Lake, my mother woke me up one morning by playing the track above–blasting out of the stereo, on the other side of a very large house. It’s one of the most vivid memories of my life–her love, and wanting to share music, even when it meant something different to her than it did to me, even though we could never experience it the same way.

Whenever I hear that music I remember waking up in the brilliant light of a Southern California morning, in that house on an acre of fruit trees and roses that my mother loved so much and later lost to foreclosure.

When everything was new, and everything was possible.

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