Friday, May 02, 2008


Talented Friends

A somewhat personal note . . . (Forgive my poor English. I'm in Japan, and as usual, feel trapped between languages and clumsy in both).

Jay T celebrated his 50th birthday and I somehow found myself invited to his party. He's a wonderful musician and singer (as I found out) in addition to being a tremendous dancer. So, happy belated birthday to Jay T.

After about an hour of listening to funk, I hurried uptown to Carnegie Hall to hear my friend Ned McGowan perform an original composition on a huge flute composed of PVC. I was worried that the evening would make me feel stupidly inept--new music can do that to me--but I actually loved and was moved by a number of pieces, including Ned's.

In between rehearsals earlier that day, Ned and I had a chance to catch up and reminisce. I've known him for a long time now, and it's amusing to think that we've gone from being frustrated teenagers longing to make art, to being adults who are actually making childhood dreams come true. Over a decade ago, Ned included me in his group of musician friends in San Francisco when I was struggling to write my first, long-since-abandoned novel. Thanks to Ned, I joined in sight reading sessions of Mahler and even played in a student concert at the San Francisco Conservatory, an experience which left me open to Charles Ives. Ned also rescued me a few years later after a bad breakup when I visited him in Amsterdam. He'd found a bicycle for me to use, but it was stolen (naturally), so I rode around on the back of his bicycle. He doesn't know it yet, but Amsterdam found a way into my novel.

I love musicians and often think that I prefer their company over almost anyone else's; I probably come by this sentiment honestly since both my parents were musicians. I sometimes wonder why I ended up being a writer, but such questions are the kinds of things that bother writers more than musicians who, I suspect, are much better at going with the flow, while writers sit there and agonize over what the hell should go on the blank page.

Hey Marie,

Great to see you and briefly catch up. The chapters are adding up - there must be four or five of them by now, spaced over about 25 years!

I had forgotten about the stolen bicycle. :-)

For the record by the way, being a musician has always been full of difficult questions. I've come to accept that over time and realize that that is probably an essential element to any art.

Well, maybe one of these days an actual flute toting musician will show up in a story somewhere--though I'd be biased and would feel the need to treat him as well as possible.

As for the bike, well, that's what I'm here for. Writers have elephantine memories.

I know that being a musician has not been easy for you--I remember. But I am so proud of you and of your general attitude toward life and art. It's taught me a great deal. xox
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