Friday, June 16, 2006

Philadelphia may have been voted the "dum-est" city in the country, but we are the home of the 4th most inspirational movie ever, Rocky.

Rocky teaches us important life lessons - that when life throws you punches, you punch back, busting your knuckles open on raw meat. That boxing is a better job than busting legs for a loanshark - to "be a thinker, not a stinker." And if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife. And, most importantly, when it looks like you're down for the count, you get back up, because winning is really just going the distance. Of course, being the daughter of Jewish mother, my mother would be yelling, "For G-d's sake stay down, wear a helmet! Oy!" And, surprisingly, when I was watching the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspirational Movies, I learned a very personal lesson - why I knit.

In the movie, Adrian asks Rocky, why do you fight? and he answers, "Because I can't sing or dance."

And, that my friends, is why I knit, because I can't sing or dance.

My grandfather was a character straight of a Damon Runyon novel. During the Depression, he bounced around Philly hustling pool (with Minnesota Fats), playing sand lot baseball, and tap dancing (with the Robinson brothers). He tried to teach me - and it was sadly clear, Shirley Temple I was never going to be.

Growing up, my house was very musical. The radio was always on - although I didn't know there was an FM dial. I was raised on Hollywood musicals - I can sing, off key, of course, the entire score of any musical written between the 30's to today. I have a definite opinion that Steven Sondheim's Company is ripe for a Broadway revival. My dad sang, played guitar. My brother, without a music lesson, can play piano, guitar anything. Me? After 8 years of piano lessons, I'm hard pressed to remember Mary Had a Little Lamb. And, I may look like Barbra Streisand, but I can't sing a note. And, while I think, when I'm in court sometimes, that I'm doing a song and dance, no one ever throws any money in a hat, and I've never had a jury stand up and applaud (although "Not Guilty" often sounds thunderous).

But there is music in me - and I think it comes out through my knitting - each stitch is like a note - sometimes the colors are in perfect harmony, like the Four Seasons (I've been tapping my toe to Jersey Boys on the old Ipod), and sometimes, like with Noro, it might be an somewhat bizarre Glass production. Some of my works are great concertos (the pi shawl), other's are little ditties (koigu socks). I have some Grammy winning performances (the Sunrise Circle Jacket), and I've had the ill-conceived (the Silk Garden suit) disasters.

So, I may not be able to sing and dance, but I do know where to get a good Cheesesteak, and I sure can knit.


Jersey Shore Deb said...

I've been listening to your Podcast and reading your blog and loving it. Having grown up in South Jersey and gone to college in Philly, I always enjoy your posts about the city. Today's piece was wonderful.
I hope to get back soon so I can visit Rosie's and Loop like you and Christina get to do!

Dorothy said...

Music is in your soul and it will always find a way to come out. For you, it is in the beauty of the knit. You create beautiful music!

Not to mention that without people who can't sing, dance or play, but love to listen/watch, people who can would have no one to listen and appreciate their creations.

Jennie said...

What a nice piece today, Wendy! And I loved your book reviews the other day too. I think we know when we have found our talent(s): whatever it is becomes as necessary and natural as breathing. I'm glad knitting is this for you.