I was recently recollecting the bad old days when I thought I was some kind of Internet Film Criticism policeman, and I got into it with not Some Dude™ but a guy I've come to have a reasonable relationship with, and one of the points he tried to make was that I had some nerve giving another writer TMI grief when I myself posted vacation pictures on my blog. Well. It was/is MY blog, and they were, you know, vacation pictures. And now, as I begin outlining a hopefully brief piece concerning the critical reputation of Woody Allen, I relax by sharing with you a last few treasures from my late mom's seemingly bottomless photo stash.
I sometimes tell close friends that as a baby, I was so fat that my parents could pretty much leave me alone anywhere and be assured that, unless I was kidnapped, I'd be at the spot at which they left me when they returned, because I literally could not move. (And as for kidnapping, no one save a cannibal wants to snatch a fat baby.) Anyway, I didn't have any actual recollection of this state, but now I have photographic proof.
My sister and I had an often fractious relationship in our childhood and teens, so this mid-60s snapshot inspired lots of oohs and aaahs from older relatives, "Look how nice they can be together," that sort of thing. I'd like to say that whatever cinematic allusion attaches to my costume—Rules of the Game, for sure!— was entirely deliberate, but of course it was not.
I include this shot not to mark the beginning of my younger brother's brief but powerful Jodie Foster phase, but to again provide a form of photographic proof: Yes, those long shirt collars in Goodfellas were a thing.
Eighth Grade Yearbook photo, 1972. Glenn Kenny, The Awkward Years, Part II, a saga which I believe is still ongoing.
Two things about this photo: One, how is it that nobody in New Jersey with a cheap camera between the years 1962 and 1985 knew how to properly compose a shot? Even the most headroom-batty among us would have to cop to the overabundance of negative, no make that useless, space in this photo, which I have declined to crop out of respect for verisimilitude. Actually, the culprit might be yours truly: that Ken Follett book is from 1982, the asphalt beneath the beach chair is a driveway; this places the shot at Katz Avenue in West Paterson, where my mom and I (and sometimes my brother) lived for a few years until I finally up and moved to the Big City full-time in '86.
Two, I don't want to slog Ken Follett, but it's doubtful that whatever my mom was thinking when I, or whoever took the shot, took the shot, was spurred by that thriller. I don't know if it's me or if today's atmosphere of cultural discourse is so inflamed or what but I feel weirdly compelled to defend my mom's reading habits here. Hell, I kind of liked Forsyth's Day of the Jackal myself. Yep, my mom liked potboiler thrillers but she also loved Rex Stout, who really is the V.S.O.P. of what he did, and it's due to her influence that I got into him—and to Conan Doyle as well. When she saw me reading a biography of Oscar Levant, she asked to borrow it when I was done, and she enjoyed that. And my mom adored Simenon—when she died, she was halfway through a new translation of The Late Monsieur Gallet that I brought her at the hospital. She liked the Silvina Ocampa poem I read her in the days before her operation, too...but she liked the Eliot cat poems I read to her from Kingsley Amis' collection of light verse a little better. Thank you T.S. Eliot and Kingsley Amis. Love you mom. Miss you every day.