Borders are alluring and charged places. In Orson Welles’ classic film “A Touch of Evil,” a psychological study of life at the border, the place where America and Mexico meet is full of shadows. It’s hard to get a fix on it. The old rules don’t seem to apply at the border, and a new reality is born of the collision of two worlds.
E.B. White, the lyrical New Yorker writer and children’s book author, knew a thing or two about heroes, especially the unsung kind. He knew the power of the small, yet profound, human gesture, the tender mercies extended from one person to another in need. And he suggested that in the realm of human relations, only one metaphor really mattered: the web. Our differences aside, we are all tethered to one another, as if to a web, tied by invisible — even mystical — strands. Heroes understand this more clearly than the rest of us.
The elderly Jews are gone now, the ones who carried their Yiddish cadences and stories of the rag trade and the Old Country with them down to the tip of Miami Beach. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s and even into the ‘80s, they sat in rickety, rainbow-striped folding chairs on the warm sand, sweet Atlantic breezes tousling their white hair. Or they sat on the front porches of the many small Art Deco-style hotels and apartment buildings they called home in their autumn years, whiling away the hours in their Southern shtetl.
The makeshift mosque was at once sweet and sinister. As befit a creation of a couple of first-graders, it was a riot of colors and flags and self-portraits and doodles. The base was made of two shoeboxes, one set slightly behind the other to give the feeling of depth. Perched atop the base was the dome, actually a beach ball adorned with colored tissue paper, giving the illusion of a tiled mosaic.
Poking out from the top of the dome was a flag with the word “Mosque” written on it. And as a decorative touch, drawn right over the “o” was a star.
Arnie Lawrence, a veteran alto saxophonist and influential jazz educator who moved to Israel in 1997 to found a jazz center teaching Jewish and Arab musicians, died April 22 in Jerusalem from lung and liver cancer. He was 66. This article first appeared in The Jewish Week in January 2001, when Lawrence was in New York to be honored by The New School's jazz program, which he helped found.
In a high-lonesome twang right out of the piney woods of the Ozarks, rock and roll Americanist Levon Helm sings of “a sorrow in the wind / blowin’ down the road I’ve been / I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun.” Helm was the soulful, Arkansas-raised drummer in the pioneering ‘60s roots rock group The Band, and the song is an old gospel tune “Wide River to Cross” on his new CD, “Dirt Farmer.” It’s a prayer, really, a poignant hymn to loss but also a declaration that life rambles on, that “I’m only halfway home,
"Mama, mama many worlds I've come since I first left home."- Grateful Dead, "Brokedown Palace"
Helena, Mont. - Next to a person's love, a bard once wrote, the most precious gift he can give is his labor. And for nine New York-area high school students out here on the eastern front of the Rockies in Big Sky country - many worlds indeed from the concrete and cramped spaces of the one they left behind - hard, sweaty, blistered hands and sore shoulders labor is what this summer has been about.
Of the elite jazz musicians working in New York, pianist Bruce Barth is probably the only one who can claim a klezmer pedigree.
Barth, 46, who has emerged as one of his generation’s most compelling pianists and will share the stage Monday at Merkin Hall with the legendary Cedar Walton in a two-piano duet, developed an ear for klezmer in high school in Harrison, N.Y. It was then that his brother introduced him to a clique of New York bluegrass musicians, including mandolinist/clarinetist Andy Statman and banjoist Tony Trischka.
The last time I saw my father we were sitting together on a South Florida beach. It was the winter of 1982, a few weeks before he died, and perhaps sensing his days were numbered, he said something that seemed out of the blue, as he was not given to such pronouncements.
“The most important thing in life,” he said, “is to put yourself last. When you get married, you put your wife first; when you have kids, you put them first; when you have grandkids, you put them first.”