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Laurie Niles

March 10, 2004 at 12:50 AM

Thanks, everyone, for all the supportive messages about this upcoming audition and about the article ! I was looking through that “Go Laurie” thread and once again, was overwhelmed by the global nature of our board. In clicking on each name, I found that the messages came from Columbia, Canada; London; Santa Ana, California; Florence, Italy; Seki, Japan; Sydney, Australia, Cheyenne, Wyoming; Wellington, New Zealand…you get the idea!

A number of people commented on the picture, and I have to say that the photo shoot was by far the most interesting part of being on the “source” end of a newspaper story. It was taken by LA Times photographer Rick Loomis. I wondered what they would do when the reporter Chris Pasles said, “We’d like a picture of you and your violin and your computer.” Huh? I envisioned the kind of a picture with one arm around your buddy, the other hand holding a beer. Only I’d have my arm around the computer, the other hand holding a violin.

Rick was to drop by the house in the morning, so I got all ready and was keeping busy with scales when the doorbell rang. I opened it to find a guy with all kinds of camera stuff and curly blond hair.

As I scurried around, trying to call up the web page (they wanted that in the picture), he calmly surveyed the place. He saw my violin case and observed the contents within: pictures of my children, parents and sister, a tattered old “best teacher award” made from construction paper by former student Nicole when she was five. He was figuring out how to compose a picture that would get the fiddle case, then through the mirror, me and the computer. Wow.

Then to the kitchen, where he used the blinds for adjusting the light, trying various angles with my violin on the table, me standing behind it, leaning over it, etc. I got a little curious about Rick.

“So, do you take pictures mostly for the Calendar section of the paper?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, smiling. “Not really.”

I guess not. He had just gotten back from Haiti. Before that? Iraq, where a number of LA Times reporters narrowly escaped a car bomb. And before that, Afghanistan, and Israel. In fact, he travels so much he doesn’t even have an apartment.

“I had to take pictures of a restaurant where I’d eaten at least 15 times,” he said of Israel. “It was all blood, guts and rubble.” Disturbing images, but ones that people need to see if we are ever to work for peace in the world.

“What is that, around your neck?” I asked, observing a leather thread peeking out from his shirt.

“Oh this,” he said, smiling. He took it out: a clay amulet that looked like the sun, or maybe fire. “I got that at the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.” It’s a big festival that culminates in the burning of a big “man,” an effigy that can symbolize whatever you want it to. Someone there made it for him.

“And what does it say on the back?” I asked, seeing that there was writing on it.
“It says, ‘Peace,’ in Greek,” he said. “I like to think it keeps me safe.”

He spent two hours with me, and he took some really nice pictures, beautifully composed. Another artist, doing his job.

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