Larry Davis

My friend Larry Davis, who I met via our high-school newspaper, the Hurricane Courier, embraced life on this planet from March 14, 1951 to November 7, 2013.

Photo of Larry Davis, ca. 1971Our friendship began in September 1968, when I became a writer/cartoonist for our school newspaper, of which Larry (one year ahead of me) was editor-in-chief.  I admired Larry’s earnest, intellectual breadth and he enjoyed my irreverence.  But over the years, to Larry’s dismay, I placed him on a pedestal as the arbiter of what was good and bad in the works I created.  He, rightly so, was not comfortable serving that role — totemic was how he described the position I put him in.  (I’ve never heard this word since.)

Our friendship lasted until 1977 or 1978, when either Larry or I or the both of us conceded that we had increasingly less in common, and at some point a letter was not responded to, and the lack of a response was not addressed.

How I regret this!

Our disconnection was a joint undertaking, I think.  I had married, become a homeowner, had our first child and buried my nose in the grindstone of my career.  Meanwhile, Larry charted his own path, eventually heading to New York where, in 1991, he became director of the Bloomingdale School of Music.  But I did not know this — by then I had lost touch with Larry and with the value of long friendships.  As he had with me.

In 2014, a whim led me to put my internet skills to the test and see what Larry was doing.  That is when I learned he had passed away the year before.  I was crushed.

I had hoped to reconnect/rebuild our friendship on a more mature basis.  Sadly, I didn’t even get to say hello again before I was forced to say goodbye.

Larry, who was now going by Lawrence, had begun to write a blog in (what would be) his final year.  His essays captured his dedication to his students, his professionalism and his love of music.  Reading these writings after his death only made me sadder about thoughts unspoken and experiences unshared over the many years of our separation.

• • • 

On September 9, 2014, I launched lawrencedavis.org, a tribute website of my own design.  It incorporated Lawrence’s later-life blog posts, as well as the correspondence, poetry and other writings I had preserved from our friendship years.  I contacted his contemporaries, letting them know about the website and hoping they might contribute their own thoughts and remembrances to the site — or even better, some musical and/or lyrical creation that Lawrence had composed during his tenure at Bloomingdale School.

Though Bloomingdale School suitably lauded Lawrence on its own website, my appeal to his colleagues for items to memorialize Lawrence elicited nothing.  So lawrencedavis.org would remain a one-sided, dated and fragmented biography.

Which brings me to now.  My web host recently informed me that lawrencedavis.org is coming up for annual renewal.  Being that almost no-one has visited the site for six years, despite its Wikipedia link, I have decided to shut down the lawrencedavis.org domain.  But I am preserving the pages of the tribute site at chcollins.com/ldavis, which you are encouraged to explore.

I have added a link to the tribute site in my “Links to Friends” in the sidebar of this blog.

I wish you had the privilege to know Larry — he had a cynic’s eye, yet was optimistic and delightful.  I loved to hear him laugh.  I wish he had lived longer and that I had known him in his later years.

When we are transported … by music and human endeavor, it is an evanescent moment.  And when we return to everyday life with its multiple headaches and stresses, I can only hope we bring something back — something that is life affirming — something that proves that, even if it is only a moment, life can be perfect. — Lawrence Davis, “The Soul Speaks”

Reach out to your old friends, now.  Because they are more special than you know, and because you should take nothing for granted.

_______________

In the image above, probably from 1971 or 1972, Larry is shown shooting a photo on a walk we took along Neshannock Creek.  The manila envelope he was holding contained a copy of the latest edition of my zine, Reader’s Disgust.
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The Same Old Story

Character Reading the Same Old Story about Trump's LiesMay as well fold it over your head and take a nap on the sofa.

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Map Challenge!

Asked & Answered: 10

I have always been a map nerd.  When I was a kid, I drew street maps of imaginary cities with improbably curvy roadways and myriad underpasses.  One of my fictional streets would invariably be named “Standard Avenue” or “Standard Road,” being that my father worked at Rockwell-Standard and my imagination had its limits.  When I was a little older, I biked down to city hall and bought a street map of our town (for one dollar), tacked it up on my bedroom wall, and then went about exploring all the streets I could pedal to on my mono-speed bicycle. 

I also remember inventing a map game to play with the younger kids who lived next door.  I appropriated a fold-out world map from one of our National Geographic magazines, drew a grid on the map to create “spaces” for tokens to move about, and then marked various squares on the map as “targets.”  The game required players to draw “target” cards and navigate from one target to the next via the roll of the dice.  I think I made up other special rules or cards to introduce an element of chance/excitement into an otherwise mundane undertaking, but hey, I was like, eleven years old?

Anyway, map-nerdiness is the only thing I likely have in common with Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings, who in fact wrote a book titled “Maphead” which I really must read one day. I don’t know whether “Maphead” deals with challenges like the following, but here goes.

I recently came across a post heralding the longest straight overland line in the continental U.S, which I call the Nandor Line in honor of its discoverer.  The Nandor Line, 2,802 miles long, extends from Ocean Creek in Washington State to Ocean Drive in Jupiter, Florida.  In theory, one could walk the Nandor Line without crossing an ocean, gulf or foreign land.  (Here, we must stipulate that Idaho does not constitute a foreign land.)

As best I can tell, the Nandor Line passes through 12 states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida. But there are close calls with a number of other states.  Naturally, this begs the question, what overland line passes over the greatest number of U.S. states, regardless of its length?

I have an answer… but I am not certain if it is the answer.  As with all scientific endeavors, my answer will be the answer until someone else comes up with a better one.  Here is how I came up with mine.

I decided that my solution — as well as those of any challengers — should be expressed in terms of a direct flight from Airport A to Airport B.  This allows the proposed path to be accurately mapped and checked via the website GPS Visualizer.

I also decided that flying over the Great Lakes is allowed, as long as the flight path does not cross the border with Canada.  Sticklers for full-overland solutions may object, but then how would they propose we cross the Mississippi River?

Anyway, here’s my solution (click to zoom): New Bedford, MA (EWB) to Fullerton, CA (FUL), a 2597-mile flight over 17 U.S. states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California. 

Although the illustration may suggest otherwise, the flight path is “straight” insofar as it represents the shortest distance between the two airports.  Several state flyovers are very close calls, and the flight path over Lake Erie comes within yards of the Canadian border.  Nonetheless!  I challenge like-minded map nerds to come up with an 18-state solution, or a 17-state solution that is strictly overland (excepting rivers).

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