Friday, 6 January 2017
Strange how a faraway place lies dormant in your mind for many years, then pops up again in so many seemingly unrelated contexts. I haven’t been there since 1990 and hadn’t really thought of the midwest- it seems so remote from my London life now. 6000 miles and 26 years
Most of the midwest is a fairly bland and acts like the rest of the world doesn't exist, but Minnesota, tucked up near the Canadian border with hot summers and cold winters attracts people from East and West coasts, New Yorkers and Californian. It has its own sensibility that is somethng of its own and amixture of both coasts, It is interested in the world, mixed, vibrant and sensible and outward looking, The City of Lakes, many people of Germanic and Scandinavian descent settled there. If the city had ghettoes I didn't see them.
Prince was from Minneapolis. His album Lovesexy was on a virtually all the time we were there. We borrowed his big warehouse to rehearse ‘the Human Accordion’ a huge piece with lots of Minneapolis performers (about 50?). We need a big space to rehearse. When I heard of Prince's passing it triggered remembrance of being in his club First Avenue and and seeing the English group Wire. I didn't realise the importance of the place until this year I saw the film of the first performance and recording of Purple Rain.
Another tangent: Recently in London, I was cataloguing books for Sophie Partridge a woman in her fifties. She had inherited the books from her grandmother- Her grandmother, Frances was an extraordinary women - part of the Bloomsbury group and lived to 103. Sophie is related to Virginia Woolf. The books many signed had an incredible heritage and Sophie wanted to sell them before Christmas. All seemed to me very clear- the books were in boxes filling up her spareroom so she was unable to use it. The past -books in boxes literally clogging up the present. Then at the beginning of December Sophie said 'oh the plans have changed - I don’t need to sell the books and I’m going to Standing Rock in North Dakota'. I was hoping that the sale of the books would fund my christmas, so it blew that, then I looked at the weather and saw that a winter storm was due to hit Standing Rock when she planned to go. Having had the winter in Minneapolis all those years ago I knew how harsh it can get, so I emailed friends in MN about essential winter clothing and passed info onto Sophie thinking god does this English rich kid in her 50s realise where she is going? Anyway she went and lived with the Lakota Sioux took on the cold and has by all accounts survived and become integral to the struggle. She is still there - its an incredible story. Her family are protestors and pacifists going back to the suffragettes and world war 1. Anyway I renewed contact with Marcela and her one time husband Brant who was good on the winterclothing advice and we bonded over both have elderly mums with dementia. He is communicating with her by drawing
So Minneapolis and Laurie …Laurie Carlos made it her home, culturally rich but without the stress of New York.
Laurie Carlos … I remember her being fabulous in Urban Bushwomen's production of Praise House- I remember guesting in the chorus of PraiseHouse at Jacobs Pillow and not getting the foot shuffle even though it was simple.
I remember Laurie’s searching look, always questioning but never judgemental she had the sensitivity to be nearly hurt but ask anger and strength that could move and inspire this around her
I remember being on some of that tour with Grisha in Charleston in 1990 when PraiseHouse was on at Spoleto, and Grisha asking me ' why don't you go out with Laurie instead of me?' I felt the question was sweet but ridiculous- Laurie was 10 years older than I, i was 6 years older than Grisha but I felt the same generation as her and Laurie had made her name earlier. She always felt like Grisha's unofficial mum. 'You take good care of that girl' was in her eyes when she looked at me ( she never did say it but I felt it.) She needn't have worried - I was besotted like I have never been since or before. And I remember later in NYC Laurie singing a thundering version Like a Rolling Stone with me playing guitar and the rest of Hot Mouth singing at PS122, It brought the house down
And Laurie chose to end her days in Minneapolis. …
Marcela who was in the Dinner company and now teaches voice and movement at the Guthrie theatre.
I remember going to snowy Bemidji for a Chippewa powwow where the kids wore Metallica t-shirts and had toy plastic bows and arrows made in China, and where the Mississippi is a fast flowing stream the you can cross on a little foot bridge, I remember Miquieas, another member of my Dinner company arriving from Brasilia at a snowy Minneapolis airport seeing snow for the first time, going with Patrick Scully one snowy cold January morning crossing the railroad track to a lake, Cedar I think, knocking a hole in the ice to dunk himself in the cold water every day as part of staying healthy regime while HIV positive He wouldn't wear a coat in freezing cold unless it got really cold. What's that?' I asked '-10 or below' he answered.
So different ways from different directions that Minneapolis has reappeared this year.