I’ve started taking walks just after six a.m. Yesterday, when I turned the corner were my street starts to climb into the foothills, I saw the windows of a Spanish Colonial had all been flung open to catch the (relative) chill. My neighbor was seated at her kick-ass Steinway playing the most gorgeous, lilting, rippling, music into the morning…
The painted piano above, in the lobby of the old Ambassador Hotel, reminded me of another friend’s piano. She found it when she was a music student at USC and (according to legend) it had been one of many pianos belonging to José Iturbi.
For some reason this particular piano, instead of sitting in his home, was floating on a boat moored in Marina del Rey and was being sold [kind of] on the sly. Music students who want a Steinway Grand don’t ask too many questions. The thing is, the piano had a beautiful voice, but it was painted with garlands, pink blossoms, and cavorting bare-bummed cherubs wielding arrows on a pale gold background. This effusive artistry was giving my friend pause, but the piano was from an era of piano manufacture referred to as the Golden Age, and she quickly made up her mind.
Now the piano sits in her living room, it still has a beautiful voice, and it’s covered with shawls. She never had it refinished, or refurbished, “Don’t want to mess with its spirit,” she said. She’s like that; has a killer sense for a business deal, and believes in all sorts of things, woo-woo celestial things that I don’t. I figure her more alternative ways of expressing herself are a way of communicating her creativity—it’s one of the reasons I love her, and besides, it’s too damned hot to argue.