Full Intermission (Summer 2012)

Below is one of a series of literature/culinary pairs that share themes and inspire thought and intra-connections. The idea being that we as Americans eat fast and don’t always take the time to stop, enjoy our food, and use the time as a space to share ideas. –Erica Holland

Fresh mushrooms quick and easy:

Saute some Chanterelles (be sure they are edible Chanterelles, not the poisonous jack-o-lantern variety). Serve with a Ripened Brie cheese and fresh Apricots.

While enjoying the succulent mushrooms, consider those that hunt the mushroom, who they are and why, as a group, they may be surprisingly diverse:

Double Vision

In August of 1992, only five days apart from one another,
two great American artists, John Cage and Larry Bird,
involuntarily ended the artistic careers for which they
were notably celebrated.

Larry Bird, who may be the most complete basketball player
to ever enjoy the game, and who some have referred to as
‘the perfect player’, in what is essentially a collaborative team sport,
performed for the Boston Celtics until his injuries forced him to retire
at the age of 35.

John Cage, who was a self-taught composer, artist, author,
reformer, and philosopher, the epitome of the American iconoclast,
commanding the undisputed title
of most celebrated American composer since Charles Ives,
and the most influential musician since Beethoven,
succumbed at the age of 79 to a life-ending stroke.

Both artists held many things in common,
including a complete dedication and commitment to their art,
as well as an absolute respect for the uncompromising principles
on which the best of their art and artistry is founded.

Both lived in each others time.
Both influenced a largely populated segment of the culture.
Both reached the pinnacle of their careers together,
at the same moment in history.

For both of these artists,
each of whom dominated an age, and
each of whom shared the gift of inspiring others on a global scale,
it is likely, that neither (John Cage nor Larry Bird)
knew of the existence of the other.
Both John Cage and Larry Bird
were masters of the quick response.
Both could spontaneously react
to a difficult situation.

When the twentieth-century composer Arnold Schoenberg
told John Cage that he should consider giving-up composing
as a career, due to his inability to think harmonically,
John Cage delivered a composition for violin and piano
in which the music was entirely based on a rhythmic scheme,
the seeds of which would later result in the innovation
of the prepared piano.

On the basketball court, when Larry Bird was double-teamed
and no one was open, he would throw the ball against the backboard,
go and get it and score. Once, when he was tied-up on the baseline,
he found a way to make a basket from behind the backboard.

One difference between them was notable.

Larry Bird shunned publicity of any kind.
He ignored every opportunity
for the media distribution of his image,
for personal or material gain.

While John Cage, in contrast,
and as a matter of principle,
was delighted to accept any invitation
which would result in the cultural
insemination of his ideas.

Another striking difference
associated with the lives of John Cage and Larry Bird
was the value placed on their artistry
by the public.

John Cage, born into privilege by normal standards,
seldom received a significant amount of money,
or a supporting grant, for his artwork. Although,
he managed to make a living throughout his career
as a piano accompanist and lecturer.

Larry Bird, on the other hand, rising from an
underprivileged background, earned several
million dollars in each of the thirteen years
of his playing career.

Finally, in what is a remarkable coincidence,
consider that both of these great artists
were amateur mycologists.

Whenever there was time to be taken,
They would strike out for the woods,
stalking the mushroom, and breathing the air.

Perhaps, one day in the past, there was a brush-by,
somewhere in the wooded surrounds
of the American midwest, or the dense forests of the northeast,
where the paths of John Cage and Larry Bird
crossed unknowingly against the background
of crisp air and wild mushrooms.

John Holland

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