- Just stopped by a panel discussion event at today’s Annapolis Film Festival on “The Pitch” and am looking forward to seeing a few movies this weekend. In case you’re curious, I got to preview one of the wonderful feature documentaries entitled, “Little White Lie,” written, directed and produced by Lacey Schwartz; and below I share a post/review.The evening I watched “Little White Lie” I’d just returned from a visit to my family home in Baltimore. Standing around the dining room table, my brother David Maril, our cousin Ron Becker and I tried to identify a stash of old family photographs. We searched our memories trying to recognize names and face of relatives going back several generations. There were photographs of my grandfather, a child sitting on a rocking horse and as a soldier in postwar France. Another larger photo showed my grandmother, as a young girl posing for a picture surrounded by her parents and four brothers and sisters in Bel Air Maryland where the family once had a farm. My grandmother, the eldest child, was ashamed of having been born in Russia. When the courthouse burned down and the birth records destroyed, she told everyone she was born in America. That was her little white lie. But some lies are much larger.The documentary “Little White Lie” begins with archival footage of the Jewish community in Brooklyn during the mid 20th century and there are old photographs and a timeline showing the Schwartz family arriving in the United States at the end of the 19th century. There is footage of old home movies showing parties, bat mitzvahs, picnics and other family events. Everyone looks happy.
We all grow up hearing stories about our grandparents and great-grand parents. But what if a one line of our ancestors had been completely wiped from the family history and another group of ancestors put in their place? What if our true heritage has been hidden?
Lacey Schwartz grew up believing both of her parents were her biological parents and that she was the descendent of Eastern European Jews, but that was only half the truth. The little girl and young woman in the family movies has darker skin and fuller features than her parents. When she asks questions about her appearance as a child she is told that her mother’s family had a Sicilian great-grandfather and that is why her skin is so dark. She accepts their explanations and when she looks in the mirror does not acknowledge her bi-racial heritage. Children believe their parents.
The movie is framed within the preparations for a wedding, Lacey’s wedding. As she tells her story, she shares with the viewers her belief that she did not feel ready to join her life with someone else’s until she understood the actions of her parents. They divorced when she was a teenager. What did her father know about the identity of Lacey’s biological father? Did he realize his wife had been unfaithful and that her lover had been African American? Why had her mother not been forthcoming with the truth about her heritage ? Her biological father was a family friend named Robert Parker, but he dies when Lacey is 30 with no opportunity to develop a relationship.
Lacey’s dad Robert Schwartz is the only father she has ever known. Although her bridegroom is African American, Lacey holds steadfast to Jewish traditions complete with the breaking of the glass as the two are pronounced man and wife. She decides to retain her last name of Schwartz, delighting in the double symbolism. The word “Schwartz” means black in German.
One of the many fine films coming to THE ANNAPOLIS FILM FESTIVAL.
By Nadja Maril
As soon as I see the sun
I reach for my coat in the closet.
It is time to walk
On this ice day.
Frozen bits melt into drops
Slide down gutters, pipes, trees
Plop on to the cold wet mush we once called snow.
I match my steps to my dog’s wet prints on the asphalt
Keeping her leash firmly taut I choose my path
Carefully inspecting the speckled road and pavement
Remnants of ices to be avoided, clumps of salt
Detours created for the sake of Chloe’s paws.
This is a strange time of year
Transition from Winter into Spring
Cold and wet ooze
Sloppy puddles, chilly mush
I think of snow cones so desirable in summer
Now distasteful as the wind blows briskly on my face.
The sun’s rays warm my armor
Heavy jacket, wool cap and padded gloves
Ultimately arctic blast seeps into my bones
Hastens my return to shelter
Listening to spinning wheels and scraping shovels
I admire the still blue sky from my window.
I hold three crisp green Coca leaves…messages delivered to the fabric of the universe….
The Power of Three
I hold three crisp green Coca leaves
Arrange carefully their graceful elongated shapes
Admiring the small bouquet
An offering, grasped between my thumb and two fingers.
The chime of the bell signals it’s time
To inhale and expel three breaths imbued with my intentions
One for the underground snake
One for the prowling puma
One for the condor in the clouds.
Bits of fluffy cotton ask for rain
Sugar candy begs for a sweet life
Quinoa for sustenance and strength.
We sprinkle many things and make our requests
On the cloth of our existence
Creating a small bundle to be buried or burned
Messages delivered to the fabric of the universe.
Our demands are great.
Our offerings small.
The lack of balance spins the circle around
Creating a never ending spiral
Propelling us to repeat the journey
Humans on a spinning top, likely to fall from grace.
An altar placed within a church where once a temple stood
A holy place filled with memories and dreams
The trinity of life; past, present and future
The father, the son the Holy Ghost
The sun, the moon, the stars
The father, the mother, and the child
The three points of the triangle, a mountain stretching towards the sky.
We reach for the heavens
Forgetting to embrace the present
We stumble and repeat past mistakes
Searching for the answers
Trying to find our way back home.
______Nadja Maril 1/27/2015
Approaching the realm of the condor
I ascend stairs of stone
Approaching the realm of the condor
I ascend stairs of stone
Deep breaths expand my lungs and mind
Transported by magnificence
I imagine the puma stalking his prey without fear.
Built without wheels or written words
Knowledge kept alive through textiles and storytelling
Knots of rope tabulating the harvest
I count the steps and bravely climb, afraid to fall.
Touching the clouds
I feel the labor of many hands
Pushing, pulling, shifting the weight and burden
Of boulders, the mountain’s power
The secrets of Mother Earth pressing beneath my feet
I stand amazed.
————Nadja Maril 1/25/2015
Like every campus, Cal Poly has a few traditions. Girls are given a lei by proud parents rather than a bouquet of flowers. It is customary to lavishly decorate the top of your cap and go drinking the night before you “walk”. A large breakfast is recommended during the wee hours of the night, prior to downing a few more stiff drinks at 6:00 a.m. Some parents accompany their son or daughter to the bars. We didn’t. On Friday morning we were out scouting the campus to see where the big commencement was taking place on Saturday morning while Alex was at a second job interview. That afternoon we went grocery shopping with the help of Alex and her boyfriend T.J. to prepare for a Graduation Eve barbecue for Alex and her friends. They enjoyed our food and libations and we enjoyed meeting the friends who were in town. (Many not yet graduating had gone home for the summer or weekend). Good news arrived for Alex. A job she wanted working as a patient care technician in a local dermatology office which will provide her with both steady employment and needed experience towards her goal of becoming a Physician’s Assistant (P.A.). My dear friend Barbara, former college roommate and my West Coast sister, made the trip from L.A. with her husband Ron to be there on Alex’s special day. It was hot sitting up in the stadium bleachers and hot for Alex below. By the time she met up with us after the large ceremony she was grateful for water and a muffin. (She was starving too.) After some picture taking, it was on to the smaller ceremony for the various departments, where the graduate’s names are actually called and students are personally graduated by the head of their department. In Alex’s case, she graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the College of Liberal Arts. On her sheet she elaborated on her name by adding the words “Amazing” and “Meow”. A few more photos and we returned to Alex’s house for brunch. (Plenty of food was leftover from the night before and just to make sure we had plenty, we stopped at the grocery with Ron & Barbara to buy more). There was time in the afternoon for rest and a swim before a celebratory dinner. Sunday was Father’s Day. We spent the afternoon at Montaña de Oro State Park referred to in my captions as Los Osos, the community it is adjacent to on the coast. Monday, our last day with Alex, we spent part of the time at Avila a small beach front town 20 minutes away from San Luis Obispo and walked on the windy pier and beach. Tuesday it was time to leave, early in the morning for a drive down the coast to LAX and our return flight. Hope to visit soon.
Lately I’ve been using the phrase “less is more” . It applies to so many things from why I put less sugar in my apple pie to why too many chairs in a room make the space look cluttered.
It’s the phrase I use to explain why it’s better to leave open space on a dinner plate if I want to make what’s on the plate important. It’s why it’s better to wear less make-up and less aftershave.
Yes, less is more applies to many situations including size. Does a piece of artwork have to be large to be important? I say no. Many of my favorite paintings are very small oils, little paintings I could put inside a suitcase and take with me when I moved from Maryland to California. Easily they made the cross-country journey more than once.
“Less is More “ is the title of a national juried art exhibit opening next week at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College in Annapolis. The work was selected by distinguished juror Domenic Iacono, director of Syracuse University Art Galleries You can see all the items in the exhibit, which will be hanging until June 15th online. The profits from exhibit sales will help fund educational programs.
On Wednesday May 28th there will be an opening reception from 6:30- 9:30. Sip wine, beer or an artini. Listen to the music of the Rob Levitt Duo. Sample gourmet food provided by leading caterers in Greater Annapolis. Be one of the first visitors to the exhibit to make an art purchase. Tickets are $100. https://community.stjohnscollege.edu/lessismore-2014
or call 410-626-2536 to purchase a ticket.
I hope to see you there at the Mitchell Gallery on the evening of May 28th so you can decide for yourself if Less is More.
Easter weekend on Cape Cod, walking on a windy beach, the sun shining in your face. It can’t get much better than this!
Patterns on the Beach
Shapes that look like fish bones
Pressed into the wet sand
The impressions of undulating waves
A thumbprint of the sea.
I walk along the ocean’s edge
at Long Nook Beach and try not to get my shoes wet.
It’s too cold to take them off.
The wind at the top of the cliffs is strong
Strong enough to lift a parasail glider and suspend him
High above the beach with the tall cliffs at his back.
We admire him and the view he must have
Looking down on the sand bars and rippling water below
Seeing from a distance
the water’s patterns in the sand.