Friday, August 13, 2010

"I am his Highness' dog at Kew ...

... pray tell me Sir, whose dog are you?"

Alexander Pope, 1737
Collar of a dog he gave to the Prince of Wales

The lad Geordie calls on his aunt in her garden on Russian Hill, a dutiful gesture and a memorable foray into blog society. Tending to them both is her longtime major-domo. I am standing by with my camera, enormously anxious for this interview to go well. A classic feature of the English Cocker Spaniel is its facility for breed recognition; after shows, when the dogs are allowed to run and play, the English Cockers will find each other and "hang out." Adding, then, to the irritation of this one's appearance, must have been the primordial cognition of having to adjust to his existence. 

Did you ever cross over to Sneden’s
Where the white houses cling to the hill?
Did you ever cross over to Sneden’s?
Do you think that you ever will?

Lyric by Alec Wilder, for Mabel Mercer
Photography by Laurent, Leica M-6, Agfachrome


  1. Pitch Perfect. Of course the topic of dogs and lineage both are enough to please me. How interesting about their finding one another in the crowd- the positive and negative aspects of the same behavior in humans. For dogs it has no ill- I wonder about US though. I am always seeking like minds, so I know others seek the same for prejudice and elitism. That is for another day,but You have set me off to find recordings of all the old songs- I love this one and have MM singing it. pgt

  2. The treasure of Mabel Mercer travels well through recording, possibly because the 'boîte' for which she was scaled can be analogised at home - always assuming a discreet clink of ice. I wish to propose her to the young, for context and nourishment with her many gifts. There wasn't a more knowing sensibility in popular song.

    When she would visit San Francisco, we would keep her up horribly late; The New Yorker, many years ago, gave a very fine Profile of her. This lyric, meanwhile, is purely delicious and is wholly her own. And mine. :)