The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2022

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JUL-AUG 2022 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: Music

12. 1956 and later, Los Angeles

At the age of 19, a musician just beginning her career (a multi-instrumentalist, she plays piano, harp, flute and cello) discovers she is pregnant. We are in the era before the pill and she has been dating a jazz guitarist, a relationship that doesn’t have much of a future. She has her pregnancy terminated at a clandestine clinic on Sunset Boulevard. Luckily, the procedure goes smoothly. She is so thankful that when, a few years later, she and her mother are running a successful fashion boutique (also, by coincidence, on Sunset Boulevard) they let it be known that any woman who comes into the shop and asks for “a green dress” will receive the name of two reliable doctors who perform abortions. She later calls the store, “an underground railroad for abortions.” Throughout her life she remains heavily involved with the Pro Choice movement, even as she enjoys a long, incredibly successful musical career, playing harp alongside some of the period’s most famous musicians, including a flamboyant pianist, a trumpet player known for his dulcet tone and good looks, a jazz singer with an amazing gift for wordless improvisation, and an innovative vocalist from Iceland.

(Corky Hale, Liberace, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Björk)

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2022

All Issues