July 21st, 2010

Nothing Ever Ends

nesson-marshall-feb14-201018nesson-marshall-feb14-201013

Last weekend Rebecca’s grandfather, Seymour, passed away. It wasn’t a total shock — his health had been on a slide for the last few years, worsening in recent weeks — but he wasn’t hospitalized at the time, and you can never really prepare for the still sudden-seeming void left by a loved one who leaves.

Becca’s uncle, Bruce, found a note that Seymour had apparently composed during the final days of his life. I took a picture of it on Seymour’s desk, sitting alongside an old letter addressed to him in Rockville Center, where he lived most of his life, as well as a fragment of a photograph of Bernice, Seymour’s wife and longtime life partner. It makes a pretty poignant visual vignette, I think.

MY OWN RECORD THAT CAN CHANGE

The note reads:

I TRY TO SEE THE WORLD AND REACT TO IT THROUGH MY PHOTOGRAPHY —

LIGHT IS THE KEY TO THE WORLD AND SEEING IT HELPS ME FEEL I AM PART OF LIVING — AND BEING ABLE TO CHANGE THE WAY I CAN LIVE — NOTHING EVER ENDS AND I CAN ALWAYS BE PART OF IT — AND MAKE A PERMANENT RECORD OF IT — MY OWN RECORD THAT CAN CHANGE —

Clearly, Seymour saw himself through the lens of a photographer. As those who knew him know, it was photography through which Seymour chased his muses, adored his family, and framed many moments of extraordinary beauty. Speaking at the service for Seymour, Becca noted his penchant for pronouncing beautiful with a strong E in the middle, which gave it a nice effect. I always enjoyed it, especially as spoken in his gentle, semi-hoarse, post-Yiddish New York accent. Strikingly, many of the most BEAUTYful pictures Seymour took were of utterly ordinary things — the miracles of the blowing clover and the falling rain, or kids playing street hockey in Hell’s Kitchen.

Street Hockey in Hell's Kitchen

A few years ago Seymour asked me if I was interested in his and Bernice’s record collection. It was taking up too much room in their house, especially among the dozens of boxes of photographs, and no one ever listened to them anymore. I gladly accepted and have been hauling several hundred extra records around ever since. It’s a wonderful collection, ranging from post-war exotica and Judaica to the classical canon (and considerably beyond) and painting a complex picture of a certain sort of ad-hoc aural heritage, dimensions of which no doubt will develop and deepen as I listen through it all — and wonder about how it sounded, & what it meant, in a Long Island living room many years ago. I’ve wondered aloud about this before, and, in tribute to Seymour, I’ll be re-running that post next, followed by another long-stewing and overdue episode of Musical Travels with Seymour and Bernice.

So long, Seymour. Thanks for the record(s) —

thanks for the records

THAT CAN CHANGE —

5 Comments

  • 1. wayneandwax.com » m&hellip  |  July 22nd, 2010 at 10:46 am

    […] published to the now-defunct Riddim Meth0d site back in January 2006, in tribute to Seymour, who passed away earlier this week. A long overdue part 2 will […]

  • 2. janis j  |  July 23rd, 2010 at 12:49 am

    As a hockey fan , I was interested in who took the photo that appeared in a Puck Daddy blog . My favorite is black and white photography . So sorry to hear of Seymours’ death , will pray for his family . Great photo , will search for more . Thank you for the artical and the glimce in Seymours’ life .

  • 3. jace  |  July 25th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    that is a BEAUTYful, poignant note. thanks for sharing.

    (was it just 2 weeks ago Becca was telling T & I about Seymour? nothing ever ends but time runs breathlessly fast, too –

  • 4. w&w  |  August 3rd, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Yes, Jace, indeed it was Seymour’s work we were talking about during that last visit. We now have an extra good reason to get off our butts and finally hang more of his photos around the house.

    And thanks to all for the kind words, whether here or elsewhere.

  • 5. w&w  |  August 4th, 2010 at 9:39 am

    And here’s a touching obit by Seymour’s daughter Fern:
    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/nesson/2010/07/27/1343/

Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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