Thanks for Mark Jenkins’ fond words on Joel Siegel (“His Master’s Voice: Joel E. Siegel, 1940-2004,” 3/19).
Joel was someone I loved for many reasons—his hilarious contempt for fools, sap, and crap; his own art—teaching and articulation; his passion for jazz and great film; and his relentless intellect, candor, and wit.
There’s a free film series today at the Hirshhorn, where I work, in part thanks to his critical support during its fledgling years and in part thanks to his consistent and usually perverse “encouragement.” Once after ranting about the pointlessness of devoting one’s life to “the Ahrts,” he admitted, “It will keep you company, keep you sharp, keep you young…and connect you to ideas and other people…in spite of yourself.” And he was only half-teasing when he advised, “Select films keeping in mind that based on your endorsement, someone may squander some of the limited moments he or she has on Earth….”
I delayed calling him to kid him about his One From the Heart piece (“Sense of Importance,” 1/16). I was looking forward to letting him give me grief about how we’d conspired to screen the film here the year after it tanked commercially. Now this title feels like a toast to a mentor and friend, and every time I hear that soundtrack I’ll be reminded how precious and limited those moments on Earth are.
I’m grateful for Jenkins’ perfect portrait—a keepsake for all who shared his Grace.