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March 15, 2009

As I mentioned below, it’s been a busy time — what with the end of the term and other pressing deadlines. Here’s a picture of one of them:

Matias and Jenny are staying with us for a while with little Katy (9 mos) who is just learning to crawl. [Daniel is her Godfather; I’m the Dogfather.] Our dogs are finally getting used to these little creatures, and now Cody is protecting her. Giaco wants to play with her as he does all other dogs and hasn’t quite figured out that babies can’t romp yet. Last night the four of us went out for dinner and Daniel’s mom, Josie, babysat — she was in heaven. Daniel and I won’t be having kids, but all of our friends are: Jason and Briana, Matias and Jenny, Damon and Jane, and we learned about 4 more at dinner last night. I thought that I’d be a grumpy old intolerant uncle, but I’m really enjoying them. Even the crying doesn’t bother me.

Balance that with the news that our friend Julia Shin died this week. Age 33, of cancer. Married to our dear friend and helper at our publishing company, TK, who has been a tower of strength for her. Robin’s cancer is not going away; we are worried that Janet might have cancer. We keep wishing for a break from death, but it seems to have become our constant companion of late. The more people you know, the more likely it is.

At school, Tim Rice has tirelessly pursued the creation of a core course for our new School. This would be a course that blends the traditions of musical learning, with cultural studies from the points of view ethnomusicologists and musicologists. After much debate and discussion, a committee of all-star professors (Robert Winter, Rice, me, Susan McClary, Tamara Levin, Tony Seeger, Steve Loza, James Newton, and Munir Beken) are considering having ME be the primary teacher throughout the year, and then each quarter, a different pair of professors from musicology and ethno team-teach with me. I get to be Oprah. The meeting was an interesting coming-together of “music theory teaching” — “theory” being a word we are happy to get rid of — and musical context, history, and culture. The musicologists were reluctant to have a technique driven core, a request that seemed difficult to take in at first, but later, intriguing. So, we will march forward and continue to map out this brave new plan.

We still do not know what UCLA’s budget cuts will be. We have had numerous instances where our students’ parents have lost their jobs and they are in need of even more financial aid. I hear of endowments all over the academic community plummeting because of the financial downturn. Everyone is having to cut, or perhaps more accurately, prune. I look around Los Angeles and see all the new business and private properties empty. West Hollywood has added a lot of very cool condos and apartments to live in but many are empty. I am trying to stay calm and not be hysterical about possible impending cuts. Too much worrying will make a person sick.

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