Image by Sherry Flanders
MIDKIN: Why “Smoke Dreams of You?”
SF: I heard it on the radio when I was little. It was a long time ago, but it took me back to a time even further back, a time when I hadn’t even existed. Fats Waller’s voice sounded like a crazy uncle whispering to you as you’re falling asleep.
MIDKIN: Did you like the song, or did it scare you?
SF: A little of both. I liked being scared, because it was mysterious. It wasn’t like being scared of nuclear apocalypse, or of being hit by a car. It was more mystical than that–being scared of smoke.
MIDKIN: Smoke and mirrors?
SF: I guess so. But I liked the idea that smoke could go anywhere. It could get into your house. It could even get into your lungs. When we were young, everyone smoked. And then we grew up and we did too. And we learned that this smoke had invaded us, when we were busy worrying about the Soviet Union.
MIDKIN: And the cat paw?
SF: That comes from the smoke. In my house growing up there were smokers, and cats!
MIDKIN: But the cats were dangerous?
SF: Everything’s dangerous, if you let it be. I just heard on the radio that it’s dangerous to kiss a kitten. I think it has to do with toxoplasmosis. But that right there–my childhood, gone up in smoke! And then this feeling that memory is in a little tank of our own making, and these dangerous things can just reach in a stir things up, like a kitten reaching into a fishbowl. And the memories themselves are dangerous.
MIDKIN: Is the date significant?
SF: Only to me.