northanger (northanger) wrote,

Ernst Toch & Lawrence Weschler

still working on this piece. decided to check Scheherezade operas — remember Flight of the Bumblebee? it's by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (he had synaesthesia) who composed Scheherazade Op. 35; asteroid #4534-RIMSKIJ-KORSAKOV named after him. btw, not sure whether #5340-BURTON named after Richard Francis Burton (came across: sotadic zone). while i'm at it: Scheherazade @ IMDb & Mike Nichols (Angels in America) with 1001 Nights in production & 1001 Nights by Yoshitaka Amano, David Newman, Esa-Pekka Salonen & Mike Smith.

anyhoo, Ernst Toch, "the world's most forgotten composer", a "musician's musician" (see: Milken Archive) also composed a Scheherazade opera as (literally) his Last Tale — Scheherazade's 1001st & final story to the sultan.

this interview with Toch's grandson, Lawrence Weschler is one of those wonderful (& it's a small world, he graduated from Cowell College at UC Santa Cruz) bits i find while looking for something else. wonderful LA history with Binky (another crazy rabbit), LA Reader & LA Weekly (Revisiting Groening & the L.A. Reader).

A Conversation with Lawrence Weschler

I vividly remember the first time I encountered the work of Lawrence Weschler. It was in the spring of 1998. After a three-year hiatus in Arizona, I was back, and gratefully so, in Los Angeles, promising myself I would never leave again. My friends and family members around the country couldn’t understand it. I wasn’t the beach type; Hollywood held no special fascination for me. I couldn’t explain it. There was just something about LA that I loved. Then the California edition of the New Yorker arrived in my mailbox, and Weschler’s essay “L.A. Glows” put it’s finger on LA’s most arresting quality: it’s light. Over the years, I’ve mailed dozens of copies of the essay to friends, for it’s that rare piece of writing that enables those who don’t know LA to understand it, and amplifies the understanding of those who think they do. But I won’t have to send it out anymore: “L.A. Glows” is included in his new book Vermeer in Bosnia. I met with Weschler, Ren to his friends and colleagues, for a brief conversation on a beautiful spring day in LA.

TGP: I would like to talk with you about California and writing. Let’s start where you’re from: Van Nuys, California.

LW: What is now the porn capital of the world.

TGP: Is it really? I thought that distinction belonged to Chatsworth.

LW: I read that it’s the porn epicenter. It’s very funny for me because when I was growing up, I don’t recall much porn going on in Van Nuys. I was born in ’52, and I remember orange groves. They were pushed back a mile every year for the first 20 or 30 years of my life, so it got to be you literally had to go 30 miles to get to orange groves.

TGP: Where did you go to high school?

LW: Birmingham High. I’ll tell you a story you might enjoy. Tina Brown came to me at one point while she was editing the New Yorker. She said, “Ren, we’re doing a California issue, and I know you come from California, so you have to be part of this issue. We’ve already got an exclusive interview with David Geffen.” I said, “No, you’re kidding! How did you do that? Tina, you are amazing!” (We had a very interesting relationship.) She says, “You have to come up with an LA story, a California story.” “Okay,” I say, “Here’s my story. I arrived at my high school – Birmingham High – in September of ’66 and graduated in June ’69. The graduating class of June ’66 – just before I arrived – the student body Vice President was Michael Ovitz.” And she said, “No!” and I said, “Yes! The head cheerleader was Sally Field.” And she said, “No!” and I said, “Yes! The head yell-leader [male cheerleader] was Michael Milliken.” And she said, “No!” and I said, “Yes! I want to do a piece on the one truly successful person in that class. I want to do a piece on the student body President. She was very excited, she said, “Who, who, who?” I said “Bruce Cantz.” And she said, “Who?” I said, “He’s a hippie farmer. He has a little goat farm on a hill in Santa Cruz. A little vineyard. He has never had to look at himself in embarrassment a single day in his life.” She said, “Get out of here!” So I came from a high school that had this funny pedigree. {more...}


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