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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Birthday in #Neuengamme (Part 1) by John von Daler

                My old friend, J, storyteller, copper-caster, plumber, traveler, told his stories with forethought and discretion. The story you got to hear at his table with its Bordeaux and goat cheese had a connection to the conversation of the moment. As his listener you also had to have gained his confidence; not everyone was allowed to hear each and every tale.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Madelaine cakes American style by John von Daler

                Jolting memories by tasting, Marcel Proust's domain if you will, came knocking on my mental door this morning. Unlike Proust, though, I remembered the food of my childhood - and that awakened memories, well, of more food. I remembered a Mexican restaurant close by a park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a place we could afford - a place I loved. I think it was called "Little Mexico".

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lawlessness and Childhood by John von Daler

                 I've always liked cars. Even when I was four years old I stood up beside my mother as she drove our 1946 Buick. It was my job to listen for the tones in the motor and then with a little help from my perfect pitch to shift the gears at exactly the right time.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A jogging admonition by John von Daler

                 I was out jogging this morning. My same route as always: up the broad, stately Frederiksberg Allé to Frederiksberg Gardens, around the little lake, across a couple of bridges and home.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

#Oklahoma Odyssey by John von Daler

                When I was a child in Oklahoma, my great aunt Gertrude would visit us. She was about ninety, I guess. Ninety age-wise, but about thirty in spirit.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Zounds! by John von Daler

                I sometimes write music for theater productions: songs, dances, background sounds. At one point in my career I wanted to be able to recreate the sounds of everyday life. To help me on my way I bought the Danish National Radio's comprehensive #sound archive.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

#Høst, Oz, Smoke and Bornholm by John von Daler

                In Paul Auster's movie "Smoke" Harvey Keitel takes a picture every morning of his own tobacco store. He does this once a day for many years. The Danish painter, Oluf Høst, in much the same way painted many pictures of his own farm from about the same angle but in different seasons and atmospheres. These pictures are part of the collection that made him world famous.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#Behaviorism and Scrutiny by John von Daler

                 Recently I sat talking with a number of friends who, unlike me, know something about psychology and the various schools of thought connected to it. In connection with another subject someone mentioned in passing that Behaviorism is dead. Now for me that is the intellectual equivalent of saying that Donald Duck has gone on to greener ponds, if I may coin a phrase.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Master Builder Philip #Roth by John von Daler

                Someone asked me recently what had been so great about Philip Roth teaching literature. The course was called Creative Writing, but I think what we actually learned was how to read.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bubble Trouble by John von Daler

               We did not notice it happening, but our society switched over a period of about seventy years from words to pictures. We do not listen any more; we see, even when we use words. Some places of work have even asked their employees to refrain from talking and to express themselves with speech scrolls.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Soundscapes of #Tanzania by John von Daler

                We were touring Tanzania, playing concerts for the good Danes who give a helping hand there. In Arusha the hotel restaurant was to be our auditorium. Kilimanjaro loomed in the distance, too big for our horizon.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

#Radio Days in the Tabula Rasa by John von Daler

                You remember it, the little brown box with brassy ornamentation, the vanilla-colored buttons, the black knobs, the lighted glass panel showing great cities of the world all in green: Singapore, Tallinn, Johannesburg. You know, the radio.

Friday, July 19, 2013

#Bellmann and Bacchanalia by John von Daler

               We were in Sweden putting on our little play about the great Swedish poet, Nils Ferlin. It was summer and Stockholm shone with water, sun and the Swedes themselves, tall and blond and dignified.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wincing in #Ravenna by John von Daler

                 I'm too fussy. My sense of order just does not allow much leeway for Good and Evil to occupy adjacent and nonchalant places on life's little merry-go-round.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Eye to eye by John von Daler

               The young Danes, husband and wife, had just moved to the #Tanzanian village. The idea was to help with things like water projects and to live simply, not exactly like the villagers, but like Danes living simply.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comedy and Tragedy in #Paxos by John von Daler

                Karen Blixen once wrote that understanding only part of a story was not such a bad thing. I suppose she meant the reader can invent, imagine, create.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#Tanzanian Mosaic by John von Daler

                Dar es Salaam. The smell of muggy money. How can a city with so much poverty smell of money?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Heresy and Inebriation by John von Daler

                 If you visit a little German town called Müllheim close to the French border, a picturesque village with winding streets and several churches, and you happen to wander into the little Markgräfler museum, then have a look at the two paintings on each side of the middle door on the second floor. One painting depicts a local innkeeper from the 18th century and the other is his father-in-law, my ancestor, Philipp Jacob Daler, born at the end of the seventeenth century.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Relativity by John von Daler

                In the early 1970's I played a charity concert at the Danish Refugee Council, violin sonatas with a pianist friend. I was still an amateur musician and I studied literature at the university. My wife worked three days a week as a physical therapist. We were not wealthy, but I wanted to help these troubled people pass the time. One of them was a little, dark man who had escaped from Poland.

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