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Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Cleaning out the cobwebs of the mind and the bright blue plastic storage boxes ...

After writing about the Colorado Springs encampment, I recalled that a few years ago I'd read a description of the event in the Starr King Journal on the occasion of the death of Jim Stoll, a minister deeply connected with that summer's activities. After making that entry here, so much began to come up for me in relation to it that there was nothing to do but stop everything and try to locate that edition so that it could be shared here. That meant sifting through papers long packed away for "someday." Anyone who's ever gotten themselves into "trunk in the attic" mode can attest, there's no way to do that except slowly savoring every old/new discovery. Unfortunately, I've not yet run into that journal but will keep looking.

Ran across a yellowed script from "Farallon Light," the master's thesis of Charles Peterson of San Francisco State University. Here were the stills from the 30 minutes documentary and the narration with places marked for music -- written and performed by Betty Reid (before Soskin). I remembered how exciting that had been, and of how serendipitously Peterson's wife happened to be in the audience and heard me perform in a concert at Sacramento State that year. "You're singing my husband's footage," she'd said, and after some conversations with Peterson later that week, I'd made my way to the sound studions for the taping and inclusion in this prize-winning film.

That year (1971) it won prizes at the Atlanta Film Festival, another at Montreal, at the San Francisco Film Festival -- after coming in first at the university's spring festival of that year.

Spent much of the past few days trying to locate a copy of it somewhere in the world. Called SF State, the Unversity of California, Berkeley Extension Division (I'd learned that there was a copy in their catalogue at one time.

Then remembered that one day when I visited the Lawrence Science Museum with my very young granddaughter, Kokee; as we walked down the hall toward the theater -- I could (unbelievably) hear the sound of my own voice singing! We entered the dark and empty theater to see Farallon Light being shown on the large screen. It was eerie. It had been years since I'd performed the work. I knew that 6 year-old Kokee could hardly appreciate the fact that her grandmother was related to any of this in any way, so I simply sat there in the dark and marveled at this miracle. David, my youngest son and her father, was still in his teens when this was written and performed. She would not be born for many years. Yet, here we were, together at the museum high in the Berkeley hills -- sharing my music in this remarkable film. That was the only the second time that I'd seen it. The first time was the night of it's premiere at S.F. State many years before.

That brings us to today. I've still found no way to trace this lovely piece of personal history. Would love to own a copy for my children (who know nothing about it, incidentally) and theirs. As an artifact of my life and legacy it's now important to me. It came into being from the secret life of the artist, Betty, who lives only in those years of transition -- that later produced political activist Betty. She was fragile, vulnerable, and probably created art as a defense against a world far too complex and cruelly paradoxical to cope with. Art was the escape valve. I feared that any product coming from that inner place was little more than symptomatic of mental illness. Such a pity!

The important facts are: Title: "Farallon Light," from Altair Productions, San Francisco; Filmmaker Charles Peterson; music composed and performed by Betty Reid; Year of release, 1971.

Any ideas?

I'm fearful that Peterson may no longer be alive. I find no trace of any further work when I search the Internet. I do have friends in media who may be able to help me to find it, but after so much time has elapsed, I'm not sure that's any longer a possiblity.

So saying, I'm knee-deep in papers and souvenirs of my past -- with a paper shredder at my elbow and a strong intention of tossing anything that doesn't cause the hair on nape of my neck to rise!

Good thing is that lots of life has freshened while I tossed and some of the anger that was surfacing last week will be transformed by some of the truly wonderful and rich periods that were interwoven through those years. Today I feel soft and yielding -- and reasonable. But that promises to last only until the next outrage from Washington surfaces.

Now I need to call my representatives and try to do something about Bolton!

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