photography by annie appel
film-based work *
Mom said I had your free spirit before I was old enough to
know what that meant. Before I learned you ran bootleg
whiskey up and down the coast with your brother Lou, and
that you were the driver. Lou, who ran guns through
Mexico to Israel before it became Israel. Lou, whose name
lives in my middle name, Louise.
Through the years I'd ask if it were true. True that you and
your brother once rolled the car and had to walk away since
it was filled with bootleg whiskey. Your answer never
wavered, "Do you believe everything you hear?" But when
you gunned the engine of your turquoise Cadillac to be first
off the traffic light every time, I knew it was.
You kept the tradition. You were always home from driving
your booze deliveries in time to bake braided bread for
Friday's sabbath. Home in time to make jam from your trees
- apricot, plum, peach and lemon. Half the avocados
dropped into the neighbors yard, but there were always so
many you said it didn't much matter, and I loved that you
We played gin. "Chest your cards honey, chest your cards,"
and you'd gently push my hand up. More than once you told
me not to waste my good luck playing with my grandma.
"Save it for Vegas". I still play your solitaire with the deck
you taught me on - numbers faded, barely visible.
Summer before college, I lived with you for what turned
out to be your last. You insisted I hang a nude self-portrait
over your television. You agreed to sit for a portrait, but
only if you got to keep your clothes on. I'd never imagined
asking you to get naked.
You let me tape record our conversations.
"Would you do anything different if you had your life to do
"I would have taken the job in Washington, D.C."
"Are you saying you would have disobeyed your mother?"