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Thumbnails Special Edition: The Personal Essays of Matt Zoller Seitz | MZS


427: Ten years without Jen, twenty-six with“: Seitz offers reflections on his marriage, and what came after it. And “427” plays an eerie role in that it is both his address and the day both of his wives passed away.

I try to make a point of being kind to people when they’ve royally messed up, and trying to ask what’s going on in their personal lives before offering criticism or a reprimand, because I’ve spent a fair amount of time being called on the carpet for my own mistakes without anybody considering that there were genuine extenuating circumstances, and I know how worthless that can make a person feel. But here, too, I don’t know how much of that is Jen-related and how much is just getting older and better rather than older and worse. Maybe losing Jen accelerated the process. Or maybe it just caught me up to where people are supposed to be in their forties. The only thing I can say for sure is that when you give yourself permission to just live—to fall apart when you need to, to feel whatever you’re feeling, to make mistakes and own them, to forgive yourself for what’s recognizably human, to make amends for egregious behavior to the extent that such a thing is possible, to let bad moments and bad days roll off your back instead of masochistically marinating in them—you get through it all with your sanity intact.


The last stand of Smoky the pig“: Seitz’s 2016 essay on “Corinthians and the rodent.”

I told them that I asked my friend Alan Sepinwall to read this passage at Jen’s memorial because
it was at the center of Jen’s favorite scene from her favorite TV show, David Milch’s “Deadwood”:
the funeral of Will Bill Hickok. I told them that this passage was about the body as a metaphor for the family or the community, and how one part needs every other part, even the seemingly small ones, and how everything is connected. Milch rewrote the Bible a little bit, perfectionist that he is, but I couldn’t find his exact wording, so I settled for reading them the first halfway decent rendition that came up on Google: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”


Love You Madly: Dave Zoller, 1941-2020“: Seitz remembers his Father, pianist, composer and arranger Dave Zoller.

His attention to detail as performer and composer was legendary. Decades after computers simplified the composing process, Dave still wrote out all of his charts by hand, in beautiful script that was instantly recognizable as Dave Zoller’s, from the jabbed dots of his periods, to his science fiction capital E’s (three vertical slashes, no sidebrace). He rarely had fewer than three bands in operation at the same time. Each performed a different type of music, from New Orleans jazz and bebop to fusion and experimental. The size ranged from trios and quartets to sextettes and big bands. His charts were so beautifully wrought that trombonist Tony Baker once said that while playing them, he had no desire to solo. Early in his career, Dave went by the nickname “Captain Weird,” for the off-kilter imagination he displayed in his playing and composing. As he aged, accumulating pupils, he started to be known by another name: The Professor. “They call him The Professor,” a local jazz bassist explained, “because every time you play with him, you go to school.” 

Song of the Day

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Seitz concluded the second chapter of his essay series, The Cruelest Month, with this song penned by his late father, Dave Zoller, to his late stepmother, Genie Grant. It is entitled, “Love Song to a Genie.”

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