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In Memorium: Life, Death and Leaves (October Re-run)

It’s  October again.  Sadly, I have nothing to add to the tribute of a month that is simultaneously my most favorite and most un-favorite of seasons.  I present, therefore, a rerun form two years ago while I contemplate creating some new content.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”–Albert Camus

Lest the general levity of this blog give you a false impression of my worldview, let me state that sometimes life sucks.  For the most part, I use humor and satire as a defense and an escape, a diversion if you will.   This has been an incredibly bittersweet week; I have never experienced anything remotely like it.   My last post was Freshly Pressed–perhaps the ultimate honor for a WordPress blogger.  Yet while this was going on, three people I know died.  They were an 82-year-old uncle whose death had been anticipated, a 58-year-old work colleague whose demise was an unexpected shock, and most tragically, the 29-year-old son of one of my poker buddies whose death from illness had been feared for some time.

If you will permit me then, a tribute to these lost souls with the only piece of poetry I ever wrote which I would deem publishable.  It’s well over 35-years old–the sort of thing one could only write in one’s youth.

The Leaves

Words ©1976, 2012  Mark Sackler

Sit and look at the leaves,

Amber arms descending from October’s trees.

Covering delicate grasses,

sweeping the highway,

bedding the rain,

Solemn songs to life departed,

Sit and look at the leaves.

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Time Out: Remembering My Dad on Father’s Day

“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.”–Anne Sexton

Albert Allen Sackler
October 8, 1919-April 27,2012

The word serendipity usually conjures up images of inventors or scientists shouting “eureka” when they stumble upon some unexpected discovery.  But serendipity–the so-called happy accident–has its place in art and life as well. On this second father’s day without my beloved dad, here is a story of fond remembrance that might make you smile.

It was the fall of 1967 and my father had just installed some custom cabinetry in our large family den.  It was state of the art for the era: bookshelves, bar and a media center with a stereo and a color TV, the latter which he assembled himself from a Heathkit.  He was, after all, an electrical engineer.  What he never was, before or since, was an artist.  But he was about to become one for just a brief shining moment.

Overspray #1

The bar consisted of a fold down counter which revealed the spirits in the compartment behind it, and above it a cabinet with doors for glassware.  The doors had clear plexiglass window panels, which somehow did not suit my mother’s taste.  My father dutifully removed them to the basement, where he proceeded to spray paint them bright, solid colors.  He replaced the panels, and was prepared to discard the plywood square that had been the drop cloth for the paint job.   But our neighbor, physician and author Jack Shiller, just happened to stop by and call a halt to the demolition.

“Don’t throw that out!”  Dr. Shiller exclaimed

“Huh?”

“Put a frame around it!”

He did.  And he entered it in a local art show.   And it won an honorable mention prize; boy, were the judges pissed when they found out the story behind it.

Serendipity or not, I’m glad he was my dad and will love him forever.

Happy Father’s Day to all.  Be sure to hug your dad if he’s still alive.

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In Memoriam: Mary Ruth “U.V.” Ray

mary ruth rayMary Ruth Ray (Aka”U.V”; Aka “Vi”) died Tuesday, January 29 at age 56 after a three year battle with cancer.  She was a world class viola player,  a founding member of the Lydian String Quartet and an artist in residence at Brandeis University for more than 3 decades.  Others knew her better and longer than me,  but she was a friend and a follower of this blog.  I refer you to her biography page on the Brandeis University web site, and obituary in the Boston Globe.   The list of recordings and Grammy nominations is particularly impressive.  One blogger described her playing as demonstrative of quiet excellence; that describes her perfectly as a human being as well.

I am not one for eulogies and she did not want any.  I will close with an expression of deepest sympathy to her family, friends and professional colleagues, and a repeat of a past memorial post from last fall that was one her favorites from this blog.  I have lost too many friends and family this year,  and now another bright light has gone out.

In Memoriam: Life, Death and Leaves

  (originally posted Sept 29,, 2012)

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”–Albert Camus

It has been a difficult week as three people I know died.  They were an 82-year-old uncle whose death had been anticipated, a 59-year-old work colleague whose demise was an unexpected shock, and most tragically, the 29-year-old son of one of my poker buddies whose death from illness had been feared for some time.

Here is an elegy to these lost souls with the only piece of poetry I ever wrote which I would deem appropriate.  It’s well over 35-years old–the sort of thing one could only write in one’s youth.

The Leaves

Words ©1976, 2012  Mark Sackler

Sit and look at the leaves,

Amber arms descending from October’s trees.

Covering delicate grasses,

sweeping the highway,

bedding the rain,

images

Solemn songs to life departed,

Sit and look at the leaves.

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Time Out: Remembering Dave Brubek

“I like to play  dangerously… where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before.”–Dave Brubek

(Note:  The title of this post provides an apt, if inadvertent double entendre.  I have used the title preface “Time Out” for posts that don’t readily fit into my existing threads.  “Time Out” also just happens to be the title of The Dave Brubek Quartet’s signature album.  It was issued in 1959 and became the first million selling jazz album ever.  It is one of the greatest classics of the genre).

Brubek on the cover of Time, November 1954.  NO! I do not remember it, I was four years old.

Brubek on the cover of Time, November, 1954.

I never met the man, yet somehow I knew him.     In one of the choral groups I sang with in high school we performed a Brubek composition (yes he wrote choral music, too).   Our director actually tried to get Brubek, who lived in a neighboring town,  to make a guest appearance to conduct the piece at our concert.  He was unavailable.  I never gave it much thought then, though Brubek’s Greatest Hits was the first jazz album I owned–and in fact the only jazz in my collection until I was in my forties.  I did not see him perform live until I was in my 50’s and he in his 80’s.

Below are two videos, courtesy of the Litchfield Jazz Festival, where I saw Dave Brubek perform twice.  The first video is a promotional piece that begins with Brubek performing in the 2005 festival.   In the shot of the audience applause that follows the visual of Brubek you’ll see two audience members stand up near the back.  I’m pretty sure the partially obscured one farthest back is me.  In the second video, taped at the 2008 festival, NPR interviews Brubek and Paquito D’Rivera.  There was no seating in this tent.  I was standing in the front row, about fifteen feet from Brubek during the entire interview.  I witnessed history that day.

Dave Brubek was an icon, a living legend.  He was not just a great artist, he was one of the great ambassadors for the arts.  He died yesterday, one day short of his 92nd birthday, in the same hospital where my wife was born.  So near, and yet so far away.

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In Memorium: Life, Death and Leaves

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”–Albert Camus

Lest the general levity of this blog give you a false impression of my worldview, let me state that sometimes life sucks.  For the most part, I use humor and satire as a defense and an escape, a diversion if you will.   This has been an incredibly bittersweet week; I have never experienced anything remotely like it.   My last post was Freshly Pressed–perhaps the ultimate honor for a WordPress blogger.  Yet while this was going on, three people I know died.  They were an 82-year-old uncle whose death had been anticipated, a 58-year-old work colleague whose demise was an unexpected shock, and most tragically, the 29-year-old son of one of my poker buddies whose death from illness had been feared for some time.

If you will permit me then, a tribute to these lost souls with the only piece of poetry I ever wrote which I would deem publishable.  It’s well over 35-years old–the sort of thing one could only write in one’s youth.

The Leaves

Words ©1976, 2012  Mark Sackler

Sit and look at the leaves,

Amber arms descending from October’s trees.

Covering delicate grasses,

sweeping the highway,

bedding the rain,

Solemn songs to life departed,

Sit and look at the leaves.

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Remembering My Dad

Remembering My Dad

Albert Allen Sackler
October 8, 1919-April 27,2012

The word serendipity usually conjures up images of inventors or scientists shouting “eureka” when they stumble upon some unexpected discovery.  But serendipity–the so-called happy accident–has its place in art and life as well. On this first father’s day without my beloved dad, here is a story of fond remembrance that might make you smile.

It was the fall of 1967 and my father had just installed some custom cabinetry in our large family den.  It was state of the art for the era: bookshelves, bar and a media center with a stereo and a color TV, the latter which he assembled himself from a Heathkit.  He was, after all, an electrical engineer.  What he never was, before or since, was an artist.  But he was about to become one for just a brief shining moment.

Overspray #1

The bar consisted of a fold down counter which revealed the spirits in the compartment behind it, and above it a cabinet with doors for glassware.  The doors had clear plexiglass window panels, which somehow did not suit my mother’s taste.  My father dutifully removed them to the basement, where he proceeded to spray paint them bright, solid colors.  He replaced the panels, and was prepared to discard the plywood square that had been the drop cloth for the paint job.   But our neighbor, physician and author Jack Shiller, just happened to stop by and call a halt to the demolition.

“Don’t throw that out!”  Dr. Shiller exclaimed

“Huh?”

“Put a frame around it!”

He did.  And he entered it in a local art show.   And it won an honorable mention prize; boy, were the judges pissed when they found out the story behind it.

Serendipity or not, I’m glad he was my dad and will love him forever.

Happy Father’s Day to all.

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