Together with politics and social justice, popular culture has always
played a big part in our family life. From the perspective of my
Christianity and Frank's ethics training, we spent a lot of time
discussing the morality of the varous times we've lived through.
One way to approach it was through popular culture.
Frank played the acoustic guitar he'd got in Italy, and we sang folk
songs and protest songs when we first married. We played records
and listened to Joan Baez; Peter, Paul and Mary; and the New
Those clear, high voices filled us with the certainty that, although our
parents had fought a war to free the world from the threat of Hitler,
we would fight for peace and freedom and equal rights. We would
protect this tiny blue marble we all lived on and preserve it for
generations to come.
I'd fairly melt when Frank would serenade me with “7 Daffodils.” I
knew that no mansion could be finer than a barracks that served as
student housing, no food better than a pile of pasta, and no
decoration comparable to a basket-wrapped Chianti bottle dripping
with various colors of candle wax. We never had much money, but
we had a lot to share--with each other and the broader world.
By 1964, the British were coming. I saw the Beatles for the first
time on the Ed Sullivan Show.
I had never cared that much for Elvis Presley. He was too country,
and he mumbled when he sang. The Beatles had clear voices and
In the 70s, we saw the first three Star Wars movies as a family, and
Robert filled the house with action figures and the larger spacecraft.
Frank got a little competition for my affections from Harrison Ford.
The music was pure Simon and Garfunkel.
In the 80s, we all enjoyed the Indiana Jones movies together. The
kids would roar when I'd start singing the theme music in the car,
"Tum, tuh-tuh, tum," and press just a little harder on the gas. It felt
like we were off on an adventure.
Later in the decade, they filled the house with the music of Prince,
Madonna, Michael Jackson, Adam Ant and Big Country. Even I
enjoyed Adam Ant with his English Romantic themes and Big
Country with its Scottish folk harmonies.
While our family was enjoying cheap thrills, many hippies were
becoming yuppies—indulgent, inward turning, living in gated
communities and failing to worry about the inequities between
themselves and their maids. We tried never to forget the needy and
In the mid-80s, whole casts of Broadway musicals died of AIDS,
spreading fear across the country. I took groceries to a man living
alone with AIDS and helped get him connected to health resources.
In the 90s, we bought donuts and watched Twin Peaks together so
regularly that, when one of Kathy’s friends’ TV broke down, he
drove in from the Valley to watch with us. We even went in
costume to a reunion of the cast.
Also in the 90s, Kathy graduated from Pepperdine and started
teaching high school English.
Frank and I moved to Culver City to be closer to my job, while he
rode the express bus to his office downtown. I joined the Palms
Neighborhood Council. Robert worked at various video rental
stores and a bookstore, interned on an independent film and
worked for a cable entertainment network, giving us decades of
steady access to movies.
He was working at one video store when a former employee,
Quentin Tarantino, came out with his movie Reservoir Dogs. We
all attended a special screening with the cast at the New Beverly
and later saw Pulp Fiction. We talked for hours after that one--
first reconstructing the plot and then evaluating the morality of the
In the 2000s, we enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movie series as a
family. Robert had worked earlier with one of the stars, Viggo
Kathy got her master's degree from Cal State Northridge and
started teaching at several community colleges.
We hosted a phone bank at our house to help support President
In the 2010s, Frank and I each had major surgeries, I hosted a care
group and served on the Benevolence committee at the Culver
We both retired, but we still enjoy Frank’s chorus performances as
well as granddaughter Katyana’s dancing and singing. Music still
fills our house, as Katyana goes around singing everything from the
Queen of the Night's aria in Mozart's Magic Flute to Beyonce.
The other night, we had an opera playing in one room and a film
about the history of rap in another.
One day recently, we were watching one of my favorite TV shows,
Castle, (Kath's and my OFA friend Marta does post production on
the show), when Becket said, “Love is an act of courage.”
I'd never quite thought about it that way, but I agree. You start out
with a necessarily immature love, trust and courage that, whatever
the next 50 years may bring, you and your love can handle it. And
it doesn't hurt along the way to enjoy an escape into popular culture
that's provocative enough to keep you talking together.
Thanksgiving Dinner at home.
Enjoying out backyard.
Participating in Relay for Life.
On vacation this summer in Monterey.
Arm-in-arm on Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey.
Robert and Frank costumed as an
FBI agent and psychologist from
Twin Peaks. I was the Log Lady,
and Kathy was one of the girls.
Frank playing folk songs.