The Girl With the Flaxen Hair

The Girl With the Flaxen Hair

My father grew up in a two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a six-story building on Jane Street in Greenwich Village. The apartment had been purchased by his father in 1944, and nobody was ever able to explain how a Steinway Vertegrand ended up in the living room. It had come with the apartment, and the sole attempt to remove it, sometime in the early 1950s, led to the discovery that while it could fit just fine through the front door, there wasn’t enough room in the hallway to turn it around so it could go down the stairs. Some giant could probably lift it over the railing and onto the stairs, but between our landing and the exit to Jane Street there were seven hairpin turns, and the piano would have to go up and over the railings each time.

The potential buyer had his money returned and the piano was shoved back into its space, where it was covered with muslin and used to display pictures and houseplants in front of the window that didn’t lead to the fire escape.

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J.S. Bach was in a teenage street gang

J.S. Bach was in a teenage street gang

Johann Sebastian Bach is best pictured as the bewigged and corpulent gentleman in Haussmann’s (hopefully) unflattering portrait. Very little that we know of his life contradicts this image of a severe man with fleshy jowls who made mind-boggling complex and beautiful music (look at the way he holds the paper upside-down: it’s for you to look at and admire, not for him–he wrote the damn thing, he knows it’s awesome) (also note how he doesn’t make it easy for you to read, because you are probably too stupid to really get it anyway).

Someone once asked him how he got be so good at music. His answer, in short, was, “I worked hard. If you worked hard you could do it, too.” Which is a bit badass but also a little snobby and probably not meant to be helpful.

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