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Archive for the tag “obituary”

Llorando de cara a la pared…

I heard the sad news this week that Lhasa de Sela had passed away on the first day of the New Year.  Lhasa’s music, particularly the one in the video featured below, helped get me through some rough times many years ago and still resonates.  She was only 37 and had lived an uncommon life:

Lhasa’s unusual childhood was marked by long periods of nomadic wandering through Mexico and the U.S., with her parents and sisters in the school bus which was their home.  During this period the children improvised, both theatrically and musically, performing for their parents on a nightly basis.  Lhasa grew up in a world imbued with artistic discovery, far from conventional culture.

There’s a gypsy quality to her style and I was pleased when I read this about her traveling with her 3 sisters’ one ring traveling circus in France Pocheros.  Her website is here and you can read more about her music and life.  Lhasa de Sela.  I love this quote from her bio that describes her music:  “These are songs inspired by a warm country but written in a cold one, with a Brontë-like romanticism, a wry and literate sense of humor, and moments of startling emotional rawness.  When they heard it, people from North America and Europe sighed and said “Ah, Mexico…”, and Mexicans said, “What strange music! Where is she from?”

I’m not a fan of overwrought emotionality and her music was emotional and soul-catching without the self-pitying cloyingness that can sometimes attach itself to sentiment.  If you wish to listen to the music straight please go here to the MySpace page and listen to De Cara a la Pared or El Desierto in particular. She sings in Spanish, English and French – Rising and Fool’s Gold are good examples of her English work.

Here’s the YouTube performance of De Cara a la Pared – I don’t think the audio is as good here as it is on the MySpace page tho’

Suffice it to say, I was very sad to hear of her passing.  Her music meant and still means a great deal to me.  The combination of her music and what I’ve read of her life presents in my mind’s eye an image akin to a Cornell box full of snippets of images from children’s books, gypsy beads, spider webs and twigs and bright colored cloth … hmm rather than describing it perhaps I should build one.  I guess that’s what it means to be an artist – the impact of your  work carries on after your physical manifestation passes.

By the way, Lhasa passed from breast cancer.  Perhaps scheduling an exam would be also be a good way to remember her.

I leave you with one more quote from her website:

An old friend of Lhasa’s, Jules Beckman, offered these words:”We have always heard something ancestral coming through her.  She has always spoken from the threshold between the worlds, outside of time.  She has always sung of human tragedy and triumph, estrangement and seeking with a Witness’s wisdom.  She has placed her life at the feet of the Unseen.”

Is the truth really out there?

I’ve just been thinking lately about the power of the internet and how easily fantasy can become fact by a simple posting that is picked up and repeated.  Makes you wonder what is true and what isn’t.  Now a big lie won’t work because if you print something ridiculous about someone like Brad Pitt, the facts are going to be checked and someone (probably Brad Pitt’s publicist) is going to refute the ridiculous statement.  But if you post a lie, intentionally or not, about someone small, someone who does not have the machinery to refute, then you are able to change history by misrepresentation.  The internet is a lazy animal.  It will pick up one story and repeat it ad infinitum.  I have written in previous posts about the Kastner obituary that painted him in an unfavorable light.  That was one article in the Toronto Star.  His wife, Jenny, and several of Mr. Kastner’s friends, left comments at the bottom of that article, denying the statements made in the article.  That Toronto Star article has been copied and reproduced all over the internet and has become the definitive “history” on Mr. Kastner’s passing.   Try it – Google Kastner obituary and see how many places that version of the obituary comes up.  Kind of scary isn’t it.   Now frankly, I have no way of knowing what the truth is in this case.  But its kind of sad that this one version of  a man’s life has been pasted throughout the internet as gospel.   Wonder what other stories that we’ve taken as truth because we read  it in a half dozen places on the internet are actually just one man’s opinion.

Peter Kastner’s Misleading Obituary

I posted the video of “The Ugliest Girl in Town” on Thursday, September 18th having no idea that Peter Kastner (the star of that show) had died that day of a heart attack.  I thank Linda who left a comment on the post for letting me know.  Why I posted, I don’t know other than the song was rolling around in my head.  Kind of  spooky, huh?  I was not a fan of Peter Kastner other than I thought he was cute in the show and he brought a smile to my face.  My condolences go to his family who on top of dealing with their grief had to spend their time refuting an obit that was clearly done with a biased point of view and very little research.  I am reposting Mrs. Kastner’s comments on the story below.  Unfortunately, the obituary has been copied and disbursed throughout the internet as gospel without Mrs. Kastner’s comments.

Peter’s widow responds Part 1

As the late Peter Kastner’s widow (who was not contacted by Martin Knelman nor John nor Jamie Kastner, the sole sources cited in the article), I am disappointed by the tenor and content of Martin Knelman’s obituary. Peter and I were married for 34 years. The Peter I knew was not to be found in Knelman’s piece. First, some minor innaccuracies: he wasn’t driving when he died, he had pulled over to the side of the road. He was not in downtown Toronto. He never came close to landing the lead in The Graduate, but was just one of a number of actors who read for the part. I am offended at having him portrayed as Norma Desmond a comparison–with a reclusive, delusional actress — that is unfair to Peter and unfair to his memory. Nothing addresses the fine qualities of Peter which would not paint him in such a negative and deluded light. His identity was not wrapped up in being an actor.

Peter’s widow responds, Part 2

After he left acting he became a high school English teacher. He became a maker of quirky and interesting videos on a wide range of subjects. He mentored many teenagers, helped raise his step-daughter and was the constant delight of his grandchildren. Not only is the article inaccurate on a factual basis, it is also a gross misrepresentation of Peter’s life after he left acting. The Peter I knew was actively engaged in the world, through his video work, his songwriting, his political activism and his many friendships. It would have been nice if Knelman had mentioned his first wife Wendy Miller, who also mourns him. The incomplete view presented by Knelman fails to capture the sweetness and soul of the good man who died in his parked car on September 18th, 2008.

Camus

I think it was Camus who said something about the best way to die being at a time when one was happy. There was nothing sad about Peter’s “end of life” He was deeply engaged with the world, making wonderful music, starting on an exciting new project, and looking forward to a trip to new York to celebrate his grandsons’ birthdays. This grim obit says nothing about who he was. He was happy, we are the sadder for losing him.

Posted by jenny kastner at 11:18 AM Monday, September 22 2008

If you want to read the obit she is referring to just google Peter Kastner – you are bound to get a version of the one the Toronto paper ran.

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