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Sunday, June 9, 2013

First Things First by John von Daler


                        Certain firsts you never forget:


                My first Bergman movie, the stark blacks and whites of Sweden, an expression of moral contrasts flashing like the film itself, light and dark, light and dark on the screen: Do! Don't! Do! Don't!
                My first bite of soft, white goat cheese on a baguette chased down with Bordeaux, heavy with Merlot.
                My first glimpse of Princeton at night, snow on the ground, quiet except for someone practicing Debussy, faces concentrating at desks, a window suddenly opening into the silent darkness, Damn it all! Again, silence.
                My first slow fox, soft touching like a velvet glove inadvertently glancing off everything, nothing.
                My first Karen Blixen story, like an ornamental mamushka made of silver, one tale fitting elegantly inside the other.
                My first "Ein Heldenleben" at Carnegie Hall. Von Karajan challenging New York to play and they attacking him with Strauss, leaving John Corigliano (senior) stranded and alone with his violin at the top of the first crescendo. Chills stampeding up and down my fourteen-year-old back.
                My first Tanzanian night like a curtain fall, concealing leopards and buffalo, whispering Jambo, Jambo from behind a beobab tree.
                My first Scandinavian midsummer night, like a dream about daytime, nudity without crudity.
                My first Satie, little eccentric melody, quirking my world askew.
                And giving my baby daughter her first strawberry, telling her without words: It's a privilege to live!
                Whoever decides about life: Please, I want seconds of my firsts!



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