Lookism

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Finally, the wine finds a topic it likes and the conversation changes to his blindness…from a gunshot during his gang years…a look he wears very well behind his Ray-Ban’s at night in the sweater from the National Theatre Company of Norway where he just completed a tour of his one-man-show…I ask him what is the best thing about being blind… his face loosens, one corner of his mouth lifting a curtain peek smile    …he says he’s glad he’s beyond “lookism” altogether…that he doesn’t even wonder what people look like any more, in fact, he long ago stopped asking his friends to describe women to him, too…none of that mattered any more…he’d finally reached a calm resignation…this is the best thing, he says…that it doesn’t matter to him what anything looks like…then we go quiet…he adds that lookism is a blind thing…an attitude…and I say, well, it sounds pretty evolved to me…he shakes his head and shrugs…we sit quiet for a while longer…sure, I can take his picture he says

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Finally, he speaks again from that quiet place where the wine has settled…that maybe it’s just that he is so bad at imagining what he can no longer see…that he is really lousy at it and tired of not knowing and worn out with asking, so, like all blind people, he adopted the mantra of not caring…and I don’t know what I should say to that…but it’s too late cuz the wine blurts out “the linen on this table is white and the plates are black”…he seems to stop breathing, he doesn’t move a muscle…so the wine goes on… about what our hosts look like…their compact bodies in warm coats with wool scarves…Matt taking care of everybody cheerfully…and Su’s bright eyes always scanning the crowds…how they assess asses in seats…report to each other with knowing glances…lean into each other later still in love…after the show when they took us to dinner at the Iridium…buzzed and soaked with Freda Payne crooning Summertime … while he and I sat there like February… cuz it is February…it’s always February now unless it’s November… and now here we are just as cold as they were warm… so I pour some more… you know, Freda has aged well and the boys in her band watched her trancelike, their fingers touching the keys and strings the way their eyes caressed her…the room heating up eazzzy…then I describe the lighting in the bar where we now sit, near closing time, all stark chromed sophistication with dozens of clear vases mounted in wall sconces each holding a single bloodred rose like in a mausoleum…  that the inset lights are purple and orange fusing the air into fuschia…the exact color everything blurs to…it’s blow on your eyes at 2am in Times Square…the neon stepchild of Dr. Seuss and Andy Warhol…now he leans forward, bending his head towards me…yes, nodding, he could feel all of that… he can’t see it but he can feel it…and the wine smiles slowly into the direction of my voice and asks what I look like as he sits back, stretching his long legs out, puts his hands behind his head, takes a deep drag of Manhattan and blows it out with a whistle… he ventures that I am a tall brunette with dark eyes… and the wine says, well… I’m not all that tall…

© L. Seaver 2012

0805_NWS_LDN-Z-OBIT-LYNN-MANNING-OBAMA-LPost Script:  On 3 August 2015, my dear friend and colleague Lynn Manning (shown above with President Obama two weeks ago) died after a very private battle with cancer.  He was a force of nature–an award-winning African-American poet, a gifted performer, a brilliant playwright, the inspired and inspiring founder/artistic director of The Watts Village Theatre Company in Los Angeles, and the former World Champion of Blind Judo.  At our annual Bridge Multimedia meeting in New York City, I was with him for the premiere of the Reel Abilities Film Festival in March 2015. 

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It was another of those evenings when I had the privilege of seeing more than I ever do on my own.
I miss my friend Manning right now for the rest of my life.

“Can I take your picture?”

Kit, age 12
Kit, age 12
rabbi
Rabbi on a cell, O’Hare Airport, 2013

the-bbc-fisherman
G. Breedon, Cromarty Firth, Scotland, October 2013

Ilya Kaminsky, April 2014, Kalamazoo Poetry Festival
Ilya Kaminsky, Poet, Kalamazoo Poetry Festival, April 2014

round brown eyes
Faegheh, Arrowtown, Aotearoa, November 2011

Still James
James Still, Pulitzer-nominated playwright & author, November 2014

china doll
the little sister, Whangerei, New Zealand, December 2011

one goodfella
William Ellwood, actor, Kalamazoo, April 2015

young bear
Young Bear, South Dakota 2012

pinklet
Apple of her Daddy’s Eye, Madison, Wisconsin 2012

Gabriel
Walter Gabriel Trachsler XIII, lead vocalist & guitarist with the Rotting Corpses, August 2014

Makena, 17
Makena, St. Joseph County, Michigan, Fall 2014

Jonathan
Jonathan Hall, actor, October 2014

Terri
Terri, the Brown-eyed Girl, Atlanta, 2014

Huingangutu, her Moko
Huingangutu, Aotearoa 2011 (her name means “people gathered to discuss something important”). The chin tat is called a “Tā moko” and it’s considered a sign of beauty.

Nicholas
Nicholas Baxter, musician, April 2015

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Lhaoghiere, Hill of Tara, Eire, June 2014

henri
Henri Medinilla Grau, photographer, New Mexico 2014

The Gilmore Keyboard Festival 2014
Elizabeth Joy Roe, The Gilmore Keyboard Festival 2014

skin like porcelin
Sarah, student, Spring Semester 2013

Giuseppe Q
Giuseppe Q., actor/director, Albuquerque 2014

ari
Ariel, Prom Ready in Vicksburg, Michigan, 2014

manning
Lynn Manning, Actor, New York City, March 2013

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Makena, age 16, northern Michigan

Susan
Susan in the bathtub of the first home she owned alone, Des Moines 2014

Kansas farmer
A Kansas Farmer, Fall 2014

another dancer
Hubbard Street Dance Studio, Chicago, April 2013

IMG_3265Bell Book & Canto, February 2016

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Wm Roberts, classical guitarist/composer, Kalamazoo 2017

anna-ponders
Anna Marie Crovetti, artist, Chicago 2015

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Majken Ruppert, 2019Seaver_2895
Alexander Harsha, senior picture in front of the schoolhouse his ggrandfather built, Vicksburg 2018IMG_1488-001Byce Evergreen, age 15, Freeport, Michigan

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Stephanie Evergreen & Michael Doyle on their wedding day 16 May 2020

2019 Madelyne H.

Quinn & Sydney, 2017
Sue Moore, 2013
Chris Gotshall, Olive Shores, Lake Michigan, 2020
Burly Mermaid, 2014
Aidan Marc Lunde, Denver
Samanatha’s Wedding, Versailles, Kentucky