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TODAY's QUOTEEach time I make a photograph I celebrate the life I love and the beauty I know and the happiness I have experienced.
~ Ruth Bernhard, 2000
Breakfast: Oatmeal with
"Eyes of a Child"
TODAY on TV
Long walk with Barb
THANK YOU, RUTH BERNHARD
2 April 2004
Today was to start the expansion of my assignments for the entertainment department of the newspaper. With the retirement of the principal reviewer, I have now taken over all of the theatrical reviews, but will not be doing dance or music reviews, since I dont have expertise in those two areas. However, I assured my editor, I thought I could handle doing feature stories on both. Today I was to find out if that was really true.
I had an appointment to interview David Grenke, an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, about the upcoming university spring dance concert. We were meeting on campus at 1 p.m, which gave me time in the morning to drive down to Fairfield to have my walk with Barb and then stop off at Bed, Bath and Beyond to exchange the too-small rugs I bought for the new bathroom for larger ones and to return the shower curtain that turned out to be not quite right.
Whenever I do an interview, since I take crappy notes and can rarely read my handwriting anyway, I try to tape them, but I knew I didnt have any blank microcasette tapes, so I also had to stop at Longs to pick up tapes.
I still hadnt read the press release the publicity director of the Theatre and Drama Department had sent out for the show and by the time I had done all of my morning errands, there was not much time to do more than skim the release, much of which I couldnt really absorb because, as I said, my expertise is not in dance and so my brain doesnt think in dance terms.
The logical thing would have been to ride my bike to campus, but there are very strong winds today, which I hate to ride in under ideal circumstances, and my knee is still aching, despite the ace wrap which the doctor gave me yesterday (which would have made it difficult to pedal anyway), so I decided to drive, even though I know parking is horrible around the University and what there is is generally permit-only, and I dont have a permit.
Last week, when Barb and I walked through the universitys arboretum, I parked in the far corner of the Borders Books lot, which backs up on university property. It was the perfect start out point and I figured Id park there again today and put in another bit of a walk in the process. I had barely enough time to make it, if I hustled.
Only between last week and this week, all those spots that are usually open have become "restricted parking," meaning you have to have a permit. There was no parking to be had for love or money in the parking lot so I headed out onto the streets, knowing that it was an exercise in futility, which it was.
I finally decided Id see what I could find on campus and found some guys in a parking lot building who told me that the only place I could park would be in the metered lot across the street, which gave you 45 minutes maximum (which I figured, given that I had nothing to ask this guy, would be plenty).
The only problem with that was that I had no money. Well, I had some pennies, a 50 cent piece, two quarters (which gave me 10 minutes each) some coins from England, and some Australian dollars. It was a 5 minute walk to the office and I had a total of 20 minutes on the meter and I knew that wouldnt be enough.
I started stopping people, trying to get change for my 50 cent piece. One woman gave me a quarter and another woman finally did have change, so I was able to get the machine up to 45 minutes.
I was about 5 minutes late getting to Grenkes office and while I sat there panting and sweating like a pig (did you know pigs dont sweat? Thats why they roll around in mud--to cool off. I heard that recently. Thought Id educate you), he finished the conversation he was having on the phone.
We had the introductory chit-chat and I was already feeling tongue tied when the phone rang again, and he had another chat with someone. While he was chatting, I happened to notice that on the bookshelf at my elbow was a book of photographs by Ruth Berhnard, described on one web site I just found as "one of this centurys [the 20th century] greatest living masters of photography."
I meet Ruth Bernhard once. She was a friend of our friends Woody and Phil and she attended a party that we also attended. I had no idea who she was. Just this nice older woman, who reminded me of screenwriter Adela Rogers St. John, who lived across the street from Woody and Phil. I remember sitting at her feet with a lot of other people and chatting with her. It was years later. when I spied a photograph that I recognized on a PBS television special, that I discovered she was a really famous photographer.
The book on the shelf was a book of female nudes, for which she is especially noted I read that this book is considered one of the finest collections of female nudes ever done. I have a copy of this book, which I purchased along with "Ruth Bernhard - Between Art and Life," which is a history of her career, and contains a photo that Woody and Phil had hanging on the wall of their apartment, when I knew them. I felt a connection with her and wanted to have both books.
So, when my interviewee got off the phone, I made a comment about the book and about Bernhards mastery of the nude. He loved that book and loved her work and used the book as a stepping off point for describing how he views dance choreography, how he relates movement to what Bernhard does in her photos. One thing led to another and before I even realized it, it was time to end the interview if I was going to get back to the car before I got a parking ticket.
It had gone beautifully, and, thanks to Ruth Bernhard, I didnt sound as stupid as I was afraid Id sound (or at least I didnt feel like I sounded stupid). Now I just have to transcribe the tape of the interview and hope I can pull a coherent story out of it, after Ive been to the recitals rehearsal next week. But my conversation with David Grenke went extremely well, and I owe it all to a chance meeting with one of the 20th centurys greatest living masters of photography.
This photo is the one which hung in Woody and Phil's apartment, which I saw on a TV special about Bernhard, when I realized who that little woman I met at the party really was.
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