I’m spending the last week of the year house-sitting a charming home deep in the countryside of southern Vermont. There are no neighbors here, no TV, no visitors since the first day. I believe this is the longest I’ve been completely alone in my life, and I’ve been remarkably content. Tonight’s my last night – tomorrow I’m heading back to town to celebrate New Year’s eve with my Boston nearests and dearests.
However, nine inches of snow are predicted by tomorrow midday. My friend called to say that not infrequently a storm up here will interrupt the electricity. He advised me to practice lighting the oil lamps and to put buckets of water near the toilet to flush with since the pumps are electrical. Oh, and the heat won’t work. Or my computers (yes, I brought two). At least I brought a battery-operated vibrator instead of my plug-in magic wand.
If there's a blackout, I've got such a seductive choice of reading that I won’t be at an entertainment loss, although the absolute quiet might get to me. I found on the coffee table a signed copy of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, and it’s been very hard to put it down. Scattered around are all those magazines one always wishes to read: The Nation, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books. If my computer batteries hold out, I’ve got the three-CD Doo Wop set from public television I got last Chunukah. Those concerts always make me happy – the kind of happy that moistens my eyes.
It’s been a bad year, both on the global and personal level. Occupations and cancers have been two of the inescapable themes. Certain things get me through: the love of my friends tops the list, but dance is not far behind. So I’ve got a great clip to dazzle you with.
The Nicholas Brothers were kids from Philly who started dancing in the Cotton Club when Harold was 11 and Fayard was 18. They are arguably the greatest tap dancers in history, and certainly were an inspiration for generations of tappers. Some people say that Fred Astaire lifted their moves and jealously relegated them to bit parts.
They combined dare-devil acrobatics with precise tap sychronization and made their way over the decades from black clubs to teaching at Harvard and Radcliffe. This is a very early clip of the Nicholas Brothers, when they were just youngsters. It’s pure dance – there’s little sign of the acrobatics that so marked their adult performances, but already their incomparable suave talent is exhilarating. The name of the piece is “Lucky Number” and I give it to you with hopes that if we can’t have world justice in 2008, that at least we’ll have some luck.
Happy New Year,
p.s. Happy birthday Cousin