Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Distant deaths

79877B07-9564-420E-A110-50DA115DB53C.jpgI read this morning of the death of Wanda Tomczykowska, whom I met briefly in the 1060s. At the time I was working as music director at radio KPFA in Berkeley. When I first began there, as a volunteer, I was tested by being asked to wind a 12-inch reel of spilled audiotape onto a reel; it took me quite a while. The tape turned out to be a song recital from Radio Poland, and in ended with an encore, Chopin's "The Maiden's Wish." When I took the job, and had a little authority, I changed the station's sign-off music from Stravinsky's early "Pastorale," which still strikes me as somehow wimpy, to the Chopin song.

Perhaps it was for that reason that Wanda Tomska, as I knew her, invited me to tea in her Alameda home. I remember it was a sunny day, much like today; that she lived modestly, but offered tea and cakes from very nice service, and that the conversation was warm and very gracious.

Distant deaths and seemingly random kindnesses and the memories they evoke.

A while back a friend wrote to complain that
One of the things I used to most look forward to on Eastside View was your occasional wise analysis of where America was going and what there was to salvage from the art of the past, particularly the avant-garde, that spoke loudly and relevantly to our present condition. Now that we’re on the verge of worldwide catastrophe, quite possibly within our own lifetimes, your attention seems to be going into your daily meals, with Eastside View devoted mostly to introspection and reminiscence.
The comment touched me a bit; perhaps it even stalled my attention to this blog. If we're on the verge of catastrophe, though, perhaps it's forgivable to dwell now and then on the beauties of the world some fear we're about to lose. I thanked Nature, yesterday, for — quite unasked — wintering my chard and lettuce over, and I think Reminiscence that I know, a little, Wanda Tomska, and Chopin's lovely — there is no other word — song.

I'm very much aware that the previous entry, "Sites," is incomplete. Those Sites are a category much like Distant Deaths, I suppose. I'm sorry it's been on hold: it's been a difficult month (don't ask). I'll get back to it soon, but just now
il faut cultiver mon jardin


John Whiting said...

As ever, Charles, you retain the gift of meeting an ungracious comment with a gracious response. Ill humor makes no contribution to the world's well being.

It was wonderful to hear the Chopin again, which I've been searching for in vain. I listened to the song almost every day for many years and never tired of it.

Curtis Faville said...

Is the quote by Voltaire?

Wasn't he the one who talked about retiring to his garden (in Switzerland?)?

"Common legumes"--as ref to the Poor.

What are "sophisticated" vegetables?

Certainly the best olives are.

I too miss your longer pieces, Charles. Our work is what keeps us whole.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.