My father Larry, is a mathematician, violinist and trombonist. He received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 1967,
having graduated from Columbia College in New York City before that. Since 1967, he has been on the UCSB faculty, and he has also had visiting
faculty positions at MIT, Notre Dame, and Dartmouth.
My mother Susan, is also a mathematician (a retired text book editor) as well as a singer, pianist, a wonderful cook and gardener... She knows more about
classical music than anyone I've ever known, and her emotional, spiritual connection to music and life will forever move me.
My brother David, is a prodigal writer, cartoonist and historian. He played the piano a great
deal as a kid - Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Joplin, improvisations in old ragtime and patriotric styles, as well as to early cartoons with the sound off... - and could sit down at
a keyboard anywhere and whip out a medley of ragtimes or classical repertoire, and still to this day. I joined my family many times at his recitals and competitions.
Since a little boy he immersed himself in cartoon and animation history, and by the time he was five had already established his own (home based)
publishing company - drawing comics, writing stories, making films... He eventually had his own fully-realized comic book that spanned numerous volumes
and which he sold around town. In his early teens he had his own television show on ABC which they filmed at our house called "Soft TV". In it he demonstrated
how animation worked, showed a bunch of the old black-and-white cartoons, played the piano, cooked in the kitchen... It was quite a sensation but it only lasted
a year. Nevertheless, at the end of its run, he was flown to Washington D.C. where the Governor of California presented him with an award for childrens' programming.
Relentlessly inspired, his creative output since it began is nothing short of astonishing, the many facets of which to this day fill me with fascination and love.
I'll never forget when he was little and discovered Flip the Frog and decided to try and revive him. He rented out
a theatre in downtown Santa Barbara and showed these early cartoons on the big screen! My Dad played trombone at intermissions, my Mom made popcorn... They sold tickets!
It was unbelievable... I wish I could go back in time and experience all of that again... I was too young to really appreciate what was going on.
My motherís father was Ira Katz, who was
based in Glendale, California (originally from Chicago) where he worked as a self-taught scientist at his company Tri-Ess Sciences, providing lab equipment
and chemistry/chemical supplies of every imaginable kind, and creating special
effects for movies (before computer animation existed) and large staged performances which needed smoke, explosions, fireworks, etc., from 1950 until his death in 2005.
There is SO much, but that I can remember, for movies he invented things like Spectrasmoke,
the marshmallow goop and green slime in Ghostbusters (he'd sent me a couple jars of it in the mail);
the tracks of fire left by the car in Back-to-the-Future; the Freddy Krueger glove, which he designed (he'd shown me the prototype); the acid in Aliens; numerous things in Gremlins... I mean, pretty much
any film which called on these sorts of things back in the 80s and early 90s, he was somehow responsible for. Even the torch carried in the Olympics he developed
so that the flame wouldn't burn out. He was also an expert on explosions, and had assisted in dismantling bombs and done work for the FBI. People would contact him
from all over with questions about various scientific experiments... He was even consulted about
the nature of the explosions in 9/11.
The walls of his office were
covered with dozens of certificates and awards for his work. Like science, he was also a chef, had taken lessons with Wolfgan Puck,
and had a room in his home filled entirely with cook books.
He was good friends with
photographer Ansel Adams, who he provided solutions for developing his pictures,
and so I grew up looking at books of this pristine, meditative black and white nature photography which became one of the initial inspirations and models to me
as a kid when I began taking photography seriously as a creative, artistic outlet, feeling the camera as Instrument.
My grandmother Anne, also on my Mom's side, was sisters with the mother of saxophonist
Lee Konitz, which makes him my Great Uncle once removed?
My fatherís father, Sam, originally from Brooklyn, was a
psychologist at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Naval Base. And my Dad's mother, Faye, was a pianist, also from Brooklyn, who was the
first musician to have their own show at Radio City Music Hall, where she accompanied guest artists. She was also a piano teacher.
My cousin is Nakki Goranin, author of the great American Photobooth booth.