Those Were The Days

Quite a few years ago my son and I were talking about music and playing a variety of records. At that time, back in Iowa City, most everyone had a turn table and a collection of records. I had a very large accumulation myself—everything from classical and blues to folk and rock.

Janis Joplin was playing, loudly and passionately while we sang just as loud and just as filled with passion. After all, it was the only way to listen to some things. We had just moved into the game of “Oh! Remember when this came out?” when he asked to play Peter Paul and Mary. “Well,” I said, “we can, but I’m really not all that into nostalgia.”

He feigned a look around the room. “I don’t see any shag carpeting…”

Not getting the connection I responded, “What? Nobody does shag carpet anymore. There hasn’t been any for years. New anyway.”

“Huh. And you do know that Janis is nostalgia, right?”

I was shocked. I didn’t know. I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. With some things the old days get carried right along with you to whenever you are.

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Janis Joplin on her Psychedelic Porsche, 1968. Photographed by Jim Marshall

Nureyev

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Rudolph Nureyev

“Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration”

Rudy has been (and still is by many) considered the Best Dancer of all time. I saw him once in Iowa City for a performance—The Nutcracker. I was backstage helping with the children. The ballet calls for many children milling about in some scenes. Sitting on the floor and waiting against the wall, some of the children’s feet stuck out into the corridor. As Rudy was walking down and past us, he kicked one of the boys whose feet intruded. The others quickly withdrew theirs.

He wasn’t a very tall man, and didn’t appear to be very imposing. Small. Until he got close. Once he did, walked by, you could feel a force field around him. Every muscle and vein seemed enlarged and vibrating. His face looked like a fierce, carved rock. You couldn’t say he was good looking, not at that point, as he was so intense and heavily made up. He looked angry. He was of course proud, arrogant, and did not suffer fools (or children) gladly.

He was a Beautiful Dancer. He was a Beautiful Man. And it was said that he could break your heart.