When Momo (not her real name) and I made the ascent of Mount Tamalpais back in ’89 what else could we do but invoke whatever it was that made Gerald Arpino’s sacred grove sacred? We dared not pass through without paying our respects. Here is the pictorial record — in which we see Momo invoking for all she’s worth — taken down from the wall, removed from its frame, scanned and cleaned up digitally for your memorialization needs.
Memorialization, that is, of the great Mr. Arpino himself, whose death I was saddened to read of in the paper (the actual paper — the one made of paper). Sorry to say I never met the guy — choreographer and creative director of the Joffrey Ballet — at least not in the flesh. Met him in spirit through his work with the Joffrey troupe which trooped once a year through Chicago, absolutely buh-lowing the minds of everyone including this culturally parched kid from the West Side.
I won’t say I wouldn’t have learned to love ballet if it weren’t for Arpino’s crowd-pleasin’ showpieces like Trinity, Kettentanz, and especially the super-groovy sixties-mystic, here-come-the-holy-hippies Sacred Grove on Mount Tamalpais. An LP of Stravinsky’s ballet scores had already whetted my appetite to see what Petrushka looked like on stage. But Arpino’s non-tutu, non-jazz, hey-look! ensemble dances bypassed external senses and went straight to whatever part of the brain or soul keeps a feller coming back to art. Parnassus on Wheels.
I owe the guy. Gerald Arpino, R.I.P.