Damocles Trio Favorite pets

Portia Kent on her sofa

Barnie Kent

Tweetie Weinberg

Floppy Johner-Greene


The Life of a Musician's Cat

...is an arduous one. Even more so for a brain-damaged cat savant. At first it seemed Floppy just didn't like music. He learned quickly to associate the cello case with the cello inside and the subsequent cello sights and sounds. The zip and click of that case opening sent him scurrying, in his limited, drunk, cartoon-dinosaur way, to the far end of the hallway where he suffered the hard floor, the cold draft and the considerable New York City apartment building noise, to avoid the music.
Floppy spent his formative years outside and, as a result, he's a cautious cat. In his progression from virtual 24-hour-under-the-bed-hiding, to limited contact, to rationed displays of affection in exchange for food and petting, his disdain for the cello seemed unchanged. He established a variety of aural safe havens, none suggesting any greater acceptance of the cello as entertainment.
To a musician, to any performer, the attention of the audience is nourishment and sustained willful disinterest or contempt is, well, it's like a diet of Swiss bread: hard to chew, hard to swallow and tasteless. So it was with Sibylle and Floppy. Each a captive of the other there could be neither retreat nor surrender. What took place was, astonishingly, evolution.
Difficulty tests musicians. Every performance contains mistakes; a lesser player watches helplessly as her performance is sucked into the black hole of an error. A great player goes forward, embracing failure as opportunity, gathering strength, proceeding with courage. With no dream of "success", Sibylle practiced harder, her goal, improvement. The result: subtle gains that even her good ears failed to register. She strove against the unmoving mountain of disinterest, determined only to go on.
But a finer set of ears was listening. Slowly, with glacial progress measured in inches over weeks, Floppy evaluated, not exactly enjoying, but willing to acknowledge advances, however slight, with proximity.
This is where we stand. On the best days he'll stay in the room, watching his beloved pigeons for diversion, offering subtle guidance with his sublime voice and cocking one sharp ear back; listening with cautious hope, wise judgment, and great tolerance.
Oddly, he never seems to mind the saxophone.

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updated: 8/11/2011