August 24, 2013
Dear Dr. Finkelstein,
I think I used to simply call you Finkelstein… but that was years ago and since you may not even remember me, it seems a little inappropriate. My name is Marie Le Claire and I was in your last class at Hunter College. The last time we met was when a bunch of us had dinner probably 9 or 10 years ago. I don’t think I was your worst student (I DID get at least one A) but know I was far from being your best.
I loved your classes and one of my greatest regrets from that time in my life is that I didn’t take better advantage of having someone like you for a teacher while I had the chance. Over the years I’ve wished I could go back and do it again.
So, what is the point of this email? For what it’s worth… just to let you know that all these years later, I still think about you and your work and that you continue to inspire me.
Aside from a few projects here and there, I don’t really do anything all that important for a living. I was a film major back at Hunter and I’m now a freelance videographer/editor, working mostly with musicians. I also work for a big band jazz composer named [deleted]. I document the making of all of her projects for her website and help her manage her band and solo work. I also read a lot of contracts and yell at guys in her agent’s office. I’ve been working with her for 6 years now and I’ve been without a “normal” 9 to 5 job for 6 years. I don’t make a lot of money but I meet a lot of interesting people and get paid to spend my time doing what I love.
All that being said, I’ve tried to keep up with what you’re doing (which is more impressive than filming jazz musicians.. haha) and have been reading your books. I’m a little late to the party as far as your most recent books but am working my way through them. I recently read “What Gandhi Says” and am reading “Knowing…” right now. I also watched the documentary on you not long ago, which I thought was really well done and truly touching. It made me even angrier that I only had the opportunity to take two classes with you.
It made me smile to hear you talk about Paul Robeson near the end of the film… I’m in the middle of Harry Belafonte’s autobiography and he talks quite a lot about Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King Jr. as Harry knew both of them and the book is as much (if not more) about civil rights as it is about Harry’s career. Paul Robeson was Harry’s hero.
I guess this is all my long-winded way of saying that I find a great deal of comfort in the fact that you’re still out there fighting, regardless of whether you have a classroom to teach in or not.
I don’t have much to offer unless you need help making a video (which I would LOVE to do for you) or if you want to come hear Maria’s band perform, but please let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you. I’d be honored.
All my very best to you,