Those Inscrutable Faces

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A friend of mine, Pat Darrin, whose famous car-designer father, Howard “Dutch” Darrin designed the iconic and long-lived Citroën Traction Avant (1934-1957)–made famous by the film Diva-recently loaned me a cool book called “La Grande Histoire de l’Automobile–Les Jours de Gloire 1950-1959.   Some of my favorite cars came out during that period, including some beauties my dad owned–Ferraris, Maseratis, a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, which my mother hated because it was so hard getting in and out of it.   They say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I’m a car nut too. I’ve also had some great cars–a 1963 Citroën DS 19 (DS 19-23 were produced 1955-1975)  immortalized in Roland Barthes’ brilliant little book Mythologies, a 1959 Jaguar XK-150S among others.  My older brother Larry is indifferent about cars, though he did manage to strafe the gears of my old man’s Ferrari 250 GT as a teenager. I had less fun:  I had to clean and wax all of them, including the Borrani wire wheels.   I do remember, however, the thrill of riding in those fast cars when my father put the pedal to the metal and I felt the torque plus the whine of those great engines.   My twin sister doesn’t even drive and like my brother has no interest in such things.

So–in this French book there is a picture of the young, androgynous Françoise Sagan, already famous for her precocious novel Bonjour Tristesse, published in 1954 when she was only 17.  Successful writers are crowned superstars in France, and Sagan was no exception.  She also loved driving fast, exotic cars, and almost died when she crashed her Aston Martin DB 2.     Read More →

Mr. T, My Favorite Cat RIP

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I am a lover of cats and I always have been.  There was always a cat in the Schnabel household.  All of us are kitty nuts.  I’ve written on my Rhythm Planet blog of Scarlatti’s Cat Sonata, watch “Too Cute” on Animal Planet, and so on.  I’m a sucker for felines.

When you acquire a dog or a cat, however,  you sign a Faustian bargain.  All the love and companionship over the years with your favorite furry creature must come to an end someday, and that day will be sad.  So will the emptiness that follows.  I suppose that’s why some prefer parrots or tortoises or even koi, which usually outlive us.

Mr. T, my favorite cat, died yesterday of gastrointestinal lymphoma.   He was an alley rescue, a ginger tabby.  More precisely, he’d been living in a home across the alley that was more of a boarding house filled with dubious types, so when I added onto my home and built a detached office, yard, and pool, he moved up from a one-star hotel into a five-star hotel.  Most people choose their pets;  my cat chose me, quite an honor.

Mr. T loved butter and peanut butter, sunbathing in the garden, drinking water from the jacuzzi, and sitting on any available lap.  He loved sitting in the production room on top of the studio equipment with the Focusrite compressor on top, which heated up his perch.  He wasn’t picky about laps or food, though I always fed him the best.   He was also a superb guard cat.  Once, after the sound of a gunshot outside, he went to the door and growled, doing his duty to keep us safe.   He was extremely affectionate and sociable, often participating in the music salons. Read More →