How could I be afraid of something I don’t know anything about?

women with synths are undefeated

In this 2017 painting Henry Taylor references a well-known photograph of Miles Davis and Cicely Tyson taken by Ron Galella in 1968 at the premiere of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Tyson played Portia in the film.

I have always loved that almost every gesture and detail in the painting is true to the photograph especially the tender, confident hand placements, the cigarette hanging from Davis’ hand and the ever so slight translucency of his sunglasses. There are a few glaring differences: Tyson’s facial expression (the eyes!) and the color of Davis’ pocket square. Oh and the fact that Davis and Tyson never met the Obamas together. Davis was long dead, but in 2016, Tyson, aged 92, finally met the Obamas when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Cicely Tyson died a few days ago and her memoir was released a few days before that. I am not woo woo or religious but I feel strongly that if someone is widely beloved and celebrated for pioneering their industry before dying of natural causes at age 96, it’s probably a good idea to listen to what they have to say. May her memory be a blessing.

I’m reading

I’m watching

Sundance 2021 is online! I miss Park City and seeing my film pals but I have to be honest that it’s also very cozy to be watching from home. Festival passes are sold out but you can still buy individual tickets to movies and I can’t recommend it enough.

I kicked off the festival by watching the wonderful documentary Summer of Soul. Did you know that in 1969, the same year as Woodstock, 300 000 Black folks attended something called the Harlem Cultural Festival to watch Sly Stone, James Brown, Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and so many more legends perform? Because I didn’t know and now I’m loving it!

If you’re festivaling too you can find my schedule here. I am especially excited for everyone to watch Passing and My Name is Pauli Murray so we can discuss.

I’m listening

We lost a few more trailblazers this week.

Sophie transformed dance and pop music into something brazenly new and completely undeniable. May her memory be a blessing.

And before Sophie or I were born, Pauline Anna Strom made “beguiling homemade synthesizer recordings.” I play her in a loop on my most anxious days and her music helps to dream of possible futures. May her memory be a blessing.

Hang in there

Only a few weeks ago in an interview, Cicely Tyson had this to say about death.

Let’s name the things we’re not afraid of and let’s remember to cherish the pioneers. See you Wednesday.