Monday, May 16, 2016

A Land's End - Race Point Lighthouse

Race Point Lighthouse is at the very end of Cape Cod, arguably the easternmost point of land in the US (I'm told down Mainer's have their own land's end candidate). It is a prototypical lighthouse as can be see.  I'm told it was becoming seriously derelict about 20 years ago when concerned and historically minded locals formed a voluteer organization to restore the lighthouse, its keepers' house and the "whistle" house (from which the warning siren is sounded when need be.) All three structures are in what seems to be good condition. The light house has recently been equipped with an automated LED light so no one needs to light lanterns.

A friend who is a member of the organization mentioned an open house so I and a couple of friends went yesterday; it's a half-hour drive. We, and other visitors parked in a Coast Guard lot and were driven the two miles of bumpy, one-lane sand tracks in appropriately equipped vans. I had never been out there before and enjoyed seeing the expanses of rolling dunes, the sea whipped to frothiness by a strong wind and exploring the houses. Rooms in the houses maybe rented by the night (the price is reasonable, accommodations spartan which seems appropriate to the historic site). The same friend suggested it might be a nice spot for an overnight mini-writing retreat (she is in our informal writing group).  Indeed I thought that seems a good idea. I don't know if we will be able to arrange it.
The house actually has four (crowded) bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bath. Doesn't it look like a Hopper painting?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Beautiful Biography

I just saw, for the third time, I think, the magnificently done film called Thirty Two Short Films about Glen Gould.
Gould was a brilliant  pianist, especially an interperter of Bach. He was a Canadian whose mother wanted him to be a musical genius and got her wish.  He was highly eccentric and gave up public performing in mid-career and recorded and composed thereafter. He died, sadly at age 50 of a stroke (he had been taking far too many drugs, some for high blood pressure but many more than needed. No responsible MD should have allowed a patient to have the collection of medicines he had.

This film is, as the title suggests, in 32 short segments.  Nearly all of them are brilliantly paced, filmed, lighted, edited.  Of course there is a great deal of music, mostly Bach but not exclusively.  He is seen dancing in an ecstatic trance to a Beethovan set of variations.

I was lucky enough to see Gould perform during the final few years of his public performances.  He was famous by then for his eccentricities and I remember a rickety old chair carried on stage for him to use - a leg held together with duct tape, the seat putting him several inches lower than pianists usually chose to perform but that's what he preferred at that time.

As the small group who saw it were talking about the film and Gould, I realized that throughout the film, it was clear he lived in his own world, was entirely narcissistic (had no idea what others were thinking or feeling or needing), but at no time was there a hint of pettiness, meanness, unkindness in him.  (Unless you count the middle-of-the night phone calls when he juat wanted to talk  -- not a conversation but to talk. But the friends and relatives he called all seem accept that quirkiness with a smile and a sense of indulgence.) The world could use more geniuses of his sort.  (A portion of his recording of Bach's music was included in  the cache of items sent to the farthest edge of the galaxy (perhaps it's not there yet)  on Voyager I and II to tell aliens that there is intelligent life on Earth.)