Aug 17, 2010

smoke and dust

About a decade or so ago, I was at an art opening, invited by a guy I very briefly dated. He claimed he could read palms, and because I was curious I went out with him, hoping I'd at least get a free reading.
Amazingly "palm reading" was not a euphemism, and he really did claim to predict the future from looking at the lines in your hands. Believe it or not.

He read my palm one day....and claimed it said that he and I "were meant to be together forever"...and...uh...that's when I was certain he was as full of bullshit as I'd suspected all along.

I don't read palms, but I'm kinda psychic like that.
But I digress....
Anyway, he'd invited me to an art opening one night, and having nothing better to do, I went.

I always seem to find myself at places where I know no one, not even the person who brought me there. But I digress again....

Most of that night I stood, bored, with a plastic cup of diet coke in my hand, while my date mingled with his friends.

While I was looking at the art, an older gentleman with beard and an expensive camera took pity on me came up to me, and chatted. He was self effacing and friendly. He asked me about myself, mentioned his love for New Orleans. We chatted about the artwork and the city. He took my photograph and moved on.

Later that night I learned that he was none other than Herman Leonard, the great jazz photographer.

During Katrina his home and his negatives were destroyed by the floods. I guess too heartbroken to return, he moved his family to Los Angeles.

And that's where he died this past Saturday.


BrooksNYC said...

NPR did a nice piece on Mr. Leonard yesterday. Didn't realize he'd lived in N.O.

Lovely story.

ayeM8y said...

What a shame to have lost his negatives. New Orleans and the people lost so much more than just the dwellings.

I have a friend that when we met we both said, “Don’t I know you?” She explained later that it was because we were supposed to know each other. I’ve had that feeling twice since then. One good the other bad. It’s also a warning that you are supposed to know this person but not for good reasons. As in avoid them.

So anyway this friend read my palm. She looked at it and then said, “Uh oh” and I said what’s the matter? She explained that my life line indicated that I would live a long time but that it was broken at the bottom. Meaning I would face some illness as I get older and then I recover to live on.

Nice Huh?

David Toms said...

This is so poignant. Waht a nice story

savannah said...

sweet story, hon. xoxoxo

BrooksNYC said...

Obit in today's NY Times, with some great pictures:

His negatives were rescued, apparently, but over 8,000 prints were lost in the flood.

normadesmond said...

a lovely memory.

a pal had a late night radio show. his guest was a psychic. she was telling his callers benign stuff, you'll come into money, that sort of thing. when it became my turn, she did a 180 and proclaimed, you'll have testicle problems!

so far, everyone's just fine.

Margaret said...

What a great story, thanks for sharing this, and for never disappointing us with your pathetic dates.

Now, go attract Brad Pitt, or Sandra Bullock, with your pitiful look.

Kim Hambric said...

I'm assuming that those are his photos I've gazed at in the Gallery for Fine Photography. Love them all.

While in the gallery one day, I fell in love with the photos of a female photographer. I stared at her work and felt a huge connection. I was on my way out and decided to go back and look her up in the gallery's wonderful collection of books. Turns out that many of the photos in her book were taken right outside of Lovettsville, VA, pop. 750. I happened to live in that town at the time Kind of bizarre.

Never had my palm read, though. And certainly, no one has asked to take my photograph.

Jill said...

I love your stories.

Dean Grey said...


The second sentence in this post made me laugh.

Wow, a famous photographer took your picture! He must've saw something in you!


Elizabeth said...

What an incredible story, with such a sad sad ending.
He was probably as happy to find a reasonable, unpretentious, and intelligent person to talk to. Art openings don't have a lot of those!

And I so wish we could see his photograph of you.