Sunday, April 9, 2017

Marcia Butler's "The Skin Above My Knee"

Marcia Butler was a professional oboist for 25 years, until her retirement from music in 2008. During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned New York and international stages, and with many high-profile musicians and orchestras. She lives in New York City.

Here Butler dreamcasts an adaptation of her new memoir, The Skin Above My Knee:
The Skin Above My Knee is a New York City story set from the mid 1970’s into the late 1990’s. After surviving an abusive father and a profoundly distancing mother, I was able to transform my childhood experiences into art through the power of music. The rigor and discipline required to become a successful oboist in the New York City freelance scene helped me to live with what happened when I was young, and also manage what came my way as an adult. Music truly saved my life. The casting I suggest below is, admittedly, a fantasy. But it’s good to dream a little. Anybody out there listening?

Young Marcia: A younger Dakota Fanning. She’s just adorable and I loved her in The Secret Life of Bees. Innocent, wide eyed, determined.

Adult Marcia: A much younger Amy Irving. I admired her in the 1988 film, Crossing Delancey, in which she reminds me of myself back in those days. Suspicious, but very vulnerable.

My mother, who I longed for but was not available: Who else, but Mary Tyler Moore? Because: Ordinary People. Taut, and blind to reality.

My father, who presented himself as an everyday family man, and was anything but: A cross between the face of a young Jimmy Cagney and the élan of a tall Cary Grant. Catch my drift? Good looking, yet dangerous.

My sister Jinx, who lived an emotionally compromised life, and for whom I always felt compassion: Michelle Pfeiffer, the tall blond head turner of a woman in Scarface. In her heyday, my sister actually looked a lot like Michelle. Severe. Too thin. Trapped.

Mrs. S, the socialite I lived with during my first semester at music conservatory: An impeccable and somewhat sexless Tippy Hedren, in Marnie, The Birds. Blond chignon, of course. Pearls, always. She’d never cry; rather, she’d mist.

Steve, my dangerous boyfriend during college who went to jail while we were together: A weary and craggy George Clooney like at the end of Michael Clayton. Yet, a man who cleans up very well on The Red Carpet. Always a tad unshaven, in either case.

Bruce, my short-lived husband: A young Clint Eastwood from the Dirty Harry days. Bruce actually a lot looked like Clint, which he reminded everyone within earshot whenever he saw an opening in the conversation. Squinting somehow makes a man more attractive.

Donna Summer: Beyoncé would do just fine. Both are icons.

Oboist for the sound track: Albrecht Mayer, the principal oboist in the Berliner Philharmoniker. Trust me.

Director: Damien Chazelle from Whiplash. Or the Coppola clan – any of them would be great. Because: The Godfather, Apocalypse Now. I’m not picky but I aim high.
Visit Marcia Butler's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Skin Above My Knee.

--Marshal Zeringue