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Kate McGarrigle

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I just wrote about our arrival three days ago in Dallas. The low point of the day was when I learned in our hotel room that evening that Kate McGarrigle had died. What a loss! (If you’re unfamiliar with Kate, and her sister Anna, you could learn about them by going to their website. Or see the NYT obituary here.) I stumbled on the news in Rick Hertzberg’s post about her at the New Yorker blog. I can hardly add anything to Hertzberg’s comments, so please have a look, and while you’re there, click on the youtube video he has embedded.

What album in recent decades has more good music than their first, Kate and Anna McGarrigle? A little over 15 years ago, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting one of the musicians who played on that album: Joel Tepp. He’s on only a couple of the songs, as I recall, but boy is he good. And since his daughter went to elementary school with the daughter of our good friends Andy and Cynthia (whose son, in turn, went to pre-school with Joel), we got to know him. I played Kate and Anna McGarrigle over and over for weeks after first meeting him. I need to dig it out so I can do so again.

Categories: Music, Obituary

Dallas Arrival

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I meant to write a post with this title three nights ago, on the day we arrived in Dallas, but now we’re already home. Oh well. In the wake of my post almost two weeks ago about our arrival in Atlanta and how that meant I had set foot in my 45th state, I was going to point out that I had been in Texas before, as had Gail, but never to Dallas.

My first trip to Texas was in January 1977, when I was applying for my first faculty position and UT Austin flew a huge collection of candidates in just after the annual meeting of the American Math Society, which was in St. Louis that year. It was a famous winter in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys and points north. The Ohio had frozen. One of the days that I was in St. Louis, the high temperature was -2. And it was windy. For years after that, the AMS made sure not to hold its annual meeting in a cold climate. But here’s the highlight of that trip. In Austin, I stayed in a motel at the edge of campus, right at the foot of a gigantic elevated freeway. The nearest building to us was the LBJ Library, which I had visited during some of my free time. No doubt this site is no longer the edge of campus. Maybe the motel isn’t even there anymore. Anyway, I was in the lobby, which was really a tiny entry space with a check-in desk and some chairs, waiting for a van to take me to the airport. The van came — well, some van anyway, maybe a different one — and a new arrival walked up to the desk to check in. I need to remind you that during that very week, the last week of January, the country was being swept up in a new miniseries, Roots, based on the book by Alex Haley. And who walked into that Austin motel? Alex Haley. The most famous man in America that week was checking into the motel as I was leaving. I can’t imagine why he wasn’t staying somewhere else.

Then there was my trip to Lubbock in January 1980, which I could write about for a while, but let’s move ahead 30 years, (Indeed, my arrival in Dallas three days ago followed my Lubbock departure by exactly 30 years.) And I passed through El Paso in 2005 on the way to Apache Point Observatory in southern New Mexico. That’s it for me and Texas, until this week.

What’s there to say about our Dallas arrival? Well, it was warm, the warmest temperatures we’ve experienced for months. And we got to see my old friend Won for the first time in over 15 years. He picked us up and swung by his house in Irving so we could have a tour. Then we headed into Dallas in rush hour traffic and took a bit of a driving tour of the Arts District and the Uptown neighborhood before heading to our hotel. Won had to go to dance class, so he dropped us off. We checked in, got settled, then Won returned to take us to a late dinner at Cyclone Anaya’s, a Mexican restaurant with five locations in Houston and Dallas that, to our taste, was superb. I would happily go back. Even better, they should open a branch here. I recommend it.

I have more to say about Dallas, but it doesn’t fit under the heading of our arrival, so I will return to the subject in a separate post.

Categories: Restaurants, Travel