Tuesday, July 12, 2005

John Cage Shoes

Merce Cunningham, dancer and choreographer, wears John Cage shoes. Merce lived with John; Cage was Cunningham’s musical director and composer- in-residence. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company recently completed its 50th anniversary world tour. Cage died in 1992.

By how many years will Cunningham the dancer outlive Cage the composer? Yet, as the late Ray Johnson said, one evening at dinner in 1975, “We all dance in John Cage shoes.” Cage was, equally with Andy Warhol, a public philosopher of the arts. Ray, of course, knew John. Ray knew everybody who was anybody and John was certainly somebody.

“Oh them John Cage shoes give us all the blues,” Malcolm Morley at that dinner sang. Malcolm invented Photo-Realism and was also somebody.

“You can get a pair at J.C. Penney,” I said.

When the dinner ended, alone and sleepless as usual, I cast the I Ching, using the penny oracle. Cage at the time was writing, as he put it, through various books, notably Joyce and Thoreau. I then wrote six variations on Aesop, one for each line of the hexagram. I sent the poem to Johnson and via Sari Dienes to John Cage. I called it “John Cage Shoes."


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