Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 10, 2010

Remembering Laura Kronenberg

Filed under: aging,Friends — louisproyect @ 4:39 pm

Laura Kronenberg

Yesterday I received word that one of my oldest and dearest friends died. Although we had a parting of the ways around 12 years ago, she still meant a lot to me. From what I can glean from people who have stayed in touch with her, she had lost the will to live. A couple of days ago she took a nasty fall that resulted in a head injury. Despite its seriousness, she refused to go to a hospital. Her ex-husband had phoned her Brooklyn apartment repeatedly only to get no answer. He then he asked a neighbor to check in on her, who discovered that she had passed away.

Laura was a year or so older than me and grew up in the same little village in the Catskill Mountains. I became friends with her when taking a seniors English class in 1960 in order to get the extra credit I needed to graduate a year early. My mother had grown increasingly alarmed about my alienation from the high school scene and decided to send me off to Bard College as a 16 year old freshman. Although Laura was not as much of a misfit as me, she had begun to develop an interest in the bohemian/beat culture that we had learned about from reading Time Magazine. She appreciated my take on the poetry we discussed in class, from Dylan Thomas to T.S. Eliot, and soon adopted me as a kindred spirit.

Given my general hostility and ill manners, it was no surprise that her Republican golf-playing parents looked askance at me. Her mother, who was a regular customer at my father’s fruit store, once told Laura that I had an “amorphous” personality. We both had a big laugh over that. I may have been cold and obnoxious but there was nothing “amorphous” about me. At the age of 16 I had already developed the jagged, sharp-edged personality that has helped define me on and off the Internet, for better or for worse.

In 1961 we went off to college. Laura went to Boston University to study art and I went to Bard College. These places served as a kind of bohemian finishing school where the two of us got up to speed on all the cultural icons of the age, from Williams S. Burroughs to Lenny Bruce. It was also when both of us began to smoke pot, which at the time was almost as transgressive as drinking absinthe.

In the summer of 1961, when her parents were off vacationing somewhere, I dropped by her house to smoke some weed. We got totally blasted and took a tour of the house, including a look her father’s tie collection which both of us found totally hilarious. Later that night—still totally blasted—I turned on the TV in the basement apartment at my parent’s house that I had turned into a “beatnik pad” and watched Ella Fitzgerald scat-singing “How High the Moon” on the Ed Sullivan show. That evening was one of the first in my life when I felt truly happy.

Not long after I graduated Bard, I got involved in Trotskyist politics and pretty much turned my back on the bohemian scene even though I had absorbed enough of it to prevent me from becoming thoroughly assimilated into the SWP. Thank goodness for William S. Burroughs. Laura had married a sculptor named Tony Long and the two of them lived in a loft on the Bowery which I used to visit from time to time. She had a job at Grove Press, one of the hippest publishing houses in the U.S. that had challenged obscenity laws involving “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”, “Tropic of Cancer” et al. One of the senior editors was Harry Braverman who co-edited American Socialist in the 1950s, a magazine that I strongly identify with.

Laura had begun to spend her evenings at Max’s Kansas City in New York, a “happening” scene where Andy Warhol and his entourage held court. She gravitated immediately toward this milieu and developed a friendship with Viva, who appeared in his movies. Years later, in tow with Laura, I met Viva at the Chelsea Hotel in New York and found her pleasant enough. But I didn’t understand her mystique.

The scene at Max’s Kansas City testified to the breadth of the cultural and political revolution going on at the time. For those too young to remember the sixties, it is easy to reduce it to the radical movement and the hippies. But there was another undercurrent that Max’s and the Chelsea Hotel symbolized. It was the world of Patti Smith, the Warhol groupies, the downtown art scene and hard drugs, all of which had not that much to do with the “groovy” vibe of Woodstock and Vermont communes.

In 1970 I went up to Boston in order to get involved in a faction fight developing in the SWP and lost touch with Laura who would soon break up with Tony and marry Frank Cavestani, a Broadway actor who had just completed his service as an artilleryman in Vietnam. Frank and Laura shared an enthusiasm for making videos, using equipment that had become affordable by the early 1970s.

Frank had returned from Vietnam as an opponent of the war and sought Laura’s help in making a groundbreaking documentary on the protests at the 1972 Miami Republican Party convention titled “Operation Last Patrol” that I reviewed here. The movie featured Ron Kovic, whose autobiography “Born on the Fourth of July” was made into a movie by Oliver Stone, who hired Frank to supervise the protest scenes. Frank also had a small part wheeling around Tom Cruise during the movie’s reenactment of the Miami protests.

Excerpt from “Operation Last Patrol”

If Laura had one foot in the downtown, Warholian scene, she had another in the left even it had little to do with the kind of organized Leninist business I was involved with. She made a short video about Abby Hoffman making gefilte fish that is priceless.

Excerpt from “Abby Hoffman makes gefilte fish”

In the mid-80s, long after I had washed my hands of American Trotskyism, I attended a high school reunion in my home town. Laura showed up, much to my delight. I learned that she had a new husband (Frank) and had moved out to Los Angeles with him, where they were in the screenwriting business. She seemed totally happy with her life. For old time’s sake, we smoked a joint out on the terrace of the house where the reunion was being held and where we were joined by a former math teacher that students lived in fear of. The influence of the 1960s counter-culture was powerful enough to have mellowed out even him.

A couple of years later I made the first in a series of trips out to the West Coast to meet with Peter Camejo who had been booted out of the SWP and who was trying to launch a new non-sectarian network called North Star. At the same time I met with Michael Urmann, the executive director of Tecnica, the solidarity group working in Nicaragua whose East Coast recruitment efforts I was directing.

The trips included a visit to Frank and Laura’s place on Mulholland Drive, the famous neighborhood in Hollywood Hills that featured houses on stilts overlooking the canyons just like the one that Mel Gibson tore down in “Lethal Weapon 2”. Theirs, however, rested firmly on a small lot.

I looked forward to my stays with Frank and Laura, even if I realize now that it was very possibly an imposition on them. After having guests from Turkey staying at our apartment in New York, I understand now what a job it is to have company for more than a day or two. But I would have rather spent a week with them than any tourist hotel in the world for they were perfectly hospitable and great fun to spend time with. I remember spending hours on end chatting about politics with Frank who felt that the intervention in El Salvador and Nicaragua was a repeat of the Vietnam War.

Laura had come into her own as a hostess for the Hollywood hipster/left community and threw memorable parties when I was there. Although the guests never included superstars like Mel Gibson (who would want that creep anyhow), they were much more interesting. I remember a conversation with director Michael Elias vividly. Elias, who had grown up in the next town from Laura’s and mine, was best known for silly comedies like “Young Doctors in Love”. Our conversation, however, revolved around American society and politics. Like Frank, he was unhappy with the Reagan presidency.

Laura never quite agreed with my socialist views and had particular problems with my anti-Zionism. She used to badger me about the need to be effective, which for her meant getting coverage in Time Magazine. Looking back in retrospect, I guess that her friendship with Abby Hoffman involved more than gefilte fish. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, there was nothing that I could have ever said or done to warrant attention from Time Magazine.

Although physically petite, there was nothing petite about Laura’s personality. She was brassy enough to take me on in political debate—something that takes a lot of guts from man or woman. She was also hard-laughing, hard-drinking, hard-eating and not above using recreational drugs of one sort or another. Most of all, she loved to party and lived as if each day was her last on earth.

Frank and Laura split up in the early 90s, as far as I can remember, and she returned to New York where she lived off an inheritance from her father. We began spending time together and I tried—not too successfully—to join her in late-night jaunts to places that were as “happening” as Max’s Kansas City once was. One night I went with her to a disco called Nell’s on 14th street and was shocked to see it filled with people dancing at 3am on a weekday night. Earlier in the evening we had visited Laura’s friend, a photographer who was famous for her portraits of John Belushi and who shared Laura’s (and Belushi’s) appetite for hard drugs.

As much as she enjoyed partying and the night life, Laura was unhappy being single. Now that she was over fifty, it was harder to find Mr. Right. One night in the mid-90s she met a painter half her age at a disco and the two of them hooked up immediately. After he moved in with her our friendship came to an end since he insisted that she could not spend time with me alone and I couldn’t stand his company.

Unlike her earlier marriages, this artist did not do much for her culturally or psychologically. I have only learned after her death that the two descended into a long journey into drugs and alcohol that left her in a state of despair. After he left their apartment a couple of months ago, she fell into a deep depression that eventually led to her untimely death. Laura was one of the most remarkable women I ever knew. I only regret that I lost contact with her nearly 15 years ago, if only to have provided some moral support in difficult times.

Ultimately, her fate was not that much different from many rebellious figures from my youth who have had lots of trouble adjusting to middle age and onwards. As we move into the autumn and now winter of our lives, it takes a lot more than booze and drugs to give you a lift. I only wish that Laura had found something more to keep her going in the past 10 years or so since she had so much to offer the world, and consequently herself.

UPDATE

I just received a couple of photos of Frank and Laura Cavestani from their old friend Fred Baker with this note:

I found and thought I’d share these photos of Laura and Frankie in Miami Beach during the Vietnam Vets VS The War & Anti-Re-Elect Nixon actions at The Republican National Convention of 1972.  They are relaxing with us near my mom and dads place in South Beach–Frank sporting an injured right eye and socket gotten the day before from the Miami Storm Troopers who pushed his camera into his face.
Laura looks fiesty enough herself…caught her in a moment w/her eyes shut unfortunately..but she does look great anyway.

23 Comments »

  1. Marcia, I hardly ever read items online ( still somewhat of a print junkie ), but with captivation I read your entire piece on your friend Laura’s death and I have to say that it sparked many emotions inside myself that I can’t go on about here. I send my best to your heart for comfort. The world and life is fuller and better to get through when people with your nature are here. Thank you.
    Ricky

    Comment by Rick longo burrows — February 10, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

  2. Very nice, indeed. You’re a very good writer. I was touched. I lost a friend recently that reminded me a lot of your friend Laura. Aging is not always an easy thing to do. Good cheer from me to you.

    Comment by Dave — February 10, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

  3. I knew Laura, and you’ve captured her with your words. Thank you so much for writing this. Peace to Laura, and to those of us who knew her, and who struggle with the loss.

    Comment by Darlene — February 10, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

  4. Hi Louis,

    Laura always said that you were the prototype for Chevy Chase’s characterisations and that he was your roommate at Bard. I remember the last time I saw you. We had all gone to some galleries in Soho. I think we gave you a neck scarf?

    It was revealed that Laura died from alcohol poisoning. Falling happened but was not the cause of death.

    I knew Laura since BU, around 1971. One long haul of time. We spoke on the phone the night she died. Affections were exchanged.

    As you, I did not spend much time with Laura after she took up with Banks. And she was pissed at me because I spent a lot of time with her very ex-husband Tony. Sometimes connections are strong enough to get through these trivialities so you stay connected at another level. I find that to be okay. We don’t have to always be involved with each others quotidian lifestream.

    Keep Laura in your heart in these days and send her lots of peaceful white light.

    Hope to see you at the memorial Louis.

    warmly,

    Phyllis

    Comment by phyllis segura — February 11, 2010 @ 1:43 am

  5. Thank you, Louis. Laura was all you wrote about and more. As I grieve and as I experience how almost every aspect of my being, my personality, is connected with Laura, I am too numbed to fully comprehend what has happened to us. What a marriage it is when it encompasses all the tiny areas of your gray matter? This I feel, think, worry, may be more shattering then I can speak about at the moment. (I usually do not have trouble expressing my thoughts or feelings.) I heard it said and I find it true, that the talk, the love, the caring and the writings of those that shared this time on earth with your departed love one, as you have done with Laura, my Laura, is tremendously helpful. It is so true. The pain of this lose in my life and for many of us is, for whatever reason, the end of an era and so is particularly painful is Laura end. I am so glad you put up the Abbey Hoffman tape Laura was very proud of that piece, which I shot but she totally produced and made happen. Abbey loved it too. I think he had a big cush on Laura and basically told me so that day, wanting me to split after I taped it. Thank you for writing this. I hope others do write about Laura.

    Comment by Frank Cavestani — February 11, 2010 @ 5:20 am

  6. I met Laura and Frank when I first came to this country, I was totally lost, they were totally cool and knew everybody. I was pretty intimidated by them. We hooked up because Laura wanted to learn backgammon, we play hundreds of games for many years and through them I met almost everyone I know today.
    Laura was so smart, so unique; I miss her so much.
    Lately she had been insisting that I go visit her in NY, being the tropical type, I passed but was working to meet with her next summer in Mexico. We had not seen each other since she left LA.
    We had lost touch for a while, but last year, as I was going through my own personal drama, she called me very concerned and we kept in touch. I am thankful now for my crisis, it gave me a last chance to connect with her.
    She was the first friend to hold my son at the hospital, I am thankful for th memories but I am sad and angry that she is gone.

    Comment by Teri Szucs — February 11, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  7. Louis, I grieve right along with you in your beautiful tribute to Laura and how her untimely and tragic passing has made all of us who knew and loved her realize the depth of her power and beauty. Re-living it takes me back so deeply, movingly, even gladly, to the time and era when her light shined so brightly, when she was so happy living and working with Frank at The Chelsea Hotel.

    Those were intensely heady days for a great many of us trying to get films and plays made and Frank and Laura were the go-to couple at the hub of everything interesting that was happening in those days in the city. Their pad at The Chelsea was connect-central for the art,film, protest politics, avant-garde music,and alternative life styles scenes of that heady time. The gatherings at their pad went on without a stop sometimes. Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tim Leary…wow!

    Come to think of it I made most of my best films at that time and I can say that Laura either had a hand in or at least helped me one way or another make those films. “Events” with Frank in a leading role, came to the attention of Grove Press’s Barney Rossett, who bought the film, and Laura–who worked for Grove– diligently made the transcription for the Grove press book “Events…the complete scenario”..I remember how detailed and bright a person I was dealing with during those transcription work-sessions with her from screen to page.

    My Children, Garin, Madelyn and Susan, and I, wish to join with you Louis, and Frank and Jade, and Laura’s sister Jane, and everyone who knew and loved her, in raising our spirits high to praise in memorium the lovley and bright lady Laura who was a beautiful woman, a good friend who I will love always.

    Comment by Fred Baker — February 11, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

  8. I totally remember those fusia pinkish pants Laura wore and of course her strong vibrant laugh. Laughing w/ my mother Barbara !!!
    Frank… Jane,.our hearts & thoughts are w/ you know. All the best to you , jade & family. xxoo Madelyn

    Comment by Madelyn Baker — February 11, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  9. I took the picture of Laura at the top of the page. We were at one of the many parties in Los Angeles in the early 80’s. She and Frank invited me without hesitation into their circle and our friendship remained active for quite awhile. I remember a picnic where I brought Rip Torn along. I have a shot of us in a pyramid. Looking back at these old pics I am struck by how gorgeous she was.

    Comment by Dianne Lawrence — February 12, 2010 @ 8:29 am

  10. Spinning out my marriage in 1983, I moved up into the Hollywood Hills and a tiny apartment in a house owned by Kenny, a great friend of Frank and Laura. It wasn’t long before I was introduced to the soirees, okay, parties, that the Cavestani’s hosted every weekend. Their company, and meeting their many friends, were just the balm I needed then. Over the years I stayed in touch with both Frank and Laura as a couple, and afterwards, as the ex-couple but good friends they remained. There are so many memories, but one that may resonate is Laura at “The Crush Bar”, a downscale dance-hall on N Caheuenga where Laura would get down to “Tainted Love” by Softcell, a whirling dervish with dance-partners welcome, but not required.

    Over the years, as Laura pursued the chimera of a Hollywood career with undaunted optimism, I stayed in touch. Laura was fiercely loyal to her friends and while she could talk your arm off, she never engaged in the gossipy back-biting and slagging-off that so many of us succumb to at times. She was never anyone’s “Friendenemy.” She was simply your friend and would give you her last dollar.

    Another memory of Laura pops into my mind: we were at someone’s weekly poker game, nothing big but not pennies either. It was dealer’s choice, the last hand and a biggish pot. Laura dealt: seven-card something. Six cards in and most at the table were ready to scoop up the chips. Laura flubbed the last card, up when supposed to be down, or maybe the other way round. They could have killed her. Later, leaving, Laura said without a trace of guile: “I don’t understand why they were so upset”. She was right, of course, it was only a game, and only money, Laura was there for the fun.

    I lost touch with both Frank and Laura when I moved to N.H. but on an infrequent trip to NYC found her again, now with Banks, living in a soon-to-be-unaffordable studio in midtown Manhattan. I should say that for the years I knew them together, they seemed very loving and Banks was devoted to her, as she was to him. A memory from that time: biking in lower Manhattan, Laura and Banks zipping through traffic, me following expecting a disaster, one that eventually befell Banks on his bike. It was typical of Laura that, while not being exactly the athletic type, she was game for anything, even Kamikaze biking.

    I saw Laura a few months ago. While Banks had then moved out, she was still in touch with him and still trying to help him, as she could. Embarked on another creative endeavor, a charming fable of an upscale cat, she retained her enthusiasm and hopeful expectation of success, just around the next corner.

    I wasn’t expecting this. The Laura I’ve always known was tough and resilient, self-deprecating without self-pity, endlessly enthusiastic, witty, well-informed on almost everything and, above everything, optimistic where reality would lay most low. Like many of you reading this, I’ve wondered if I could have helped her, had I had the instinct to call her in the last few weeks. I wish she had called me. I would have been there in a flash, as I know you, reading this, would have been too.

    Dear Laura, I will always miss you, never forget you and try and keep in my own life some of the moxie you had in spades.

    Comment by Joe Gannon — February 14, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  11. oh man, you guys really know how to write and so so many incredible stories of our Laura, my NY ‘auntie’. i only met her in the last 5 years and although she had already been a down and out, i would love to come over to her loft (she and i lived in the same building/floor on Shotwell) and listen to ALLLLL her stories. i mean alot of them, and over and over. she would talk about all these folks, you guys and i felt like i knew everyone so well. i LOVED THIS. she started recently over the last few years losing alot of friends, i would say someone close to her seemed to pass every other month, and she would be bedridden by it. just DEVISTATED by the pain of losing a friend. she would always say ‘it’s not right, it’s just not right’. i lived next door to her for 5 years and we weren’t just neighbors but more like roommates. i was able to care for Laura and it was one of my favorite things to do. she and i were sisters, she was my crazy auntie and she was my bestfriend. i adored Banks, as did she and the 3 of us have been through alot together. they got me through some stuff that anyone else would lose patience for. she really understood how to manuever through life, she knew how to let stuff go, she used to say ‘isn’t your saddness just BORING’. we spent almost every day together for 5 years, either in person or on the phone. i was always excited by her art and her idea’s for scripts and books etc….she was ALWAYS creating, something, anything. she had an incredible sense of humor and we would laugh so hard at things that people might find horrifying. i used to have holidays with her, our doors were always open for eachother. she loved playing the piano, and i would sit in her loft and listen to her play in the sunlight surrounded by her crazy life, now dusty and messy, as she would roll over the piano telling me stories of her life.
    she loved you all so much, so deeply. i wonder if she would want us to be as sad about her death the way that she would grieve ours. i think about that sometimes.
    i know she is at peace, i know this. i told Frank, i think what hurts so much about Laura’s death is that she took care of us so much and we weren’t able to take care of her, she was stubborn in this way and it does leave a hole in my heart.
    i was only ever aloud to do her dishes and listen to her stories.
    XO TO ALL OF YOU.
    hope you can make it out to NY for the party/memorial. i’d love to put ‘names’ to ‘faces’.
    Shana

    Comment by Shana Falana — February 15, 2010 @ 1:33 am

  12. These comments and memories are so wonderful. Please more. I would speak out myself but I just can’t right now.

    Comment by Frank Cavestani — February 15, 2010 @ 5:43 am

  13. Im really not a writer like joe and frank and the wonderful woman whom Ive never met that captured so much of Laura in the first comment. the news of laura’s death is heartbreaking . I can’t stop sobbing looking at her photos’s. She was always so perfectly thin and naturally elegant with out any makeup . She had such an interesting and unique personal style. It was hip elegance with out an angry edge just unique and lauraesque. I cant even remember how I met Laura and Frank .But they are both unforgettable. Their cool house up the hill from mine was a easy drop in for late night converstation , fun and usually some reason for a party. There was a never ending myriad of intersting and amazing folks that came through there. Jay Levin and Joey Davidow started the LA weekely there. Going over ideas at the table.Frankie, jay, Joey, Teri, Joe, Michael, Kenny, so many incredible people.Laura was always the gracious hostess, making food, taking care of everyone, sharing wine, drugs, what ever she had.Joe mentioned the Crush Club and I loved meeting her there and dancing the night away. It’s hard to imagine her succumbing to such depression and lonliness. She always seemed so strong to me . So generous. There were many times I left their home and drove the winding dangerous road home thinking what a great couple Frank and Laura were. I loved hanging out with them in Hollywood and Mexico . Where ever they were it was always interesting, ispiring and fun. Laura loved Frank so much. It was hard for me to understand how she could be so forgiving when he chose to leave and start another life with Jade and their child and leave her behind. I dont think that she ever really got over that change. She always saw her and Frank getting old togehter. I remember she once took out photos of Franks dad and showed them to me imagining thats what he would be like when he was old. I know that she had great sadness at not being able to have children. She shared tears with me about this. I couldnt have children either and she was very happy when I told her about adopting my daughter. I think she would have been such a fun and wonderful mom. She kept in touch with Frank and Jade and loving accepted the changes with so much grace and dignity. I dont know if I could have been so gracious . I saw her in New York several times after she moved. She was working for her sister and living with Banks. His art was all over the house.She had some small pieces of her own in there too. One night we went out dancing until late. I had stopped drugging and drinking and so wanted to leave at two. Laura thought this was quite silly “the night was still so young!!!! ” I remember looking back and she was dancing her heart away , smiling and moving around the floor with different folks. Banks had disapeared but she danced on. She knew all the door men and the guys who let the “hip” people into the cool inner sanctum , everyone loved her.
    I was so happy when I got the news of “her” book. It seemed so much of her life she gave all her support and creative ideas, visions and energy to the men in her life and her friends and never really stepped out to claim what was really hers all along. It made my heart jump for joy that she had created and published her own wonderful book. I bought a copy immediately. Like so many of the comments I too wish she would have called me . I would have come immediately or brought her to my home so she cold regroup. That she was alone in her final hours breaks my heart. When I think of NYC or the hip Hollywood Hills I think of Laura. She created such artistic salons. She touched so many, helped so many,made so many laugh. She inspired me at a time when I was lost and helped me find another way. I still cannot believe she is gone. My heart goes out to you Frank and your family who I know she loved . Thank you letting me know . Thank you Laura for blessing the earth with your rare generosity, your kindness, creativity and amazing ability to create community and inspire greatness in others. Im so grateful that you were Dr. Suzanne Lopez[IMG]http://i46.tinypic.com/xofqj4.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i48.tinypic.com/ic0d2t.jpg[/IMG]

    Comment by dr. suzanne lopez — February 16, 2010 @ 3:11 am

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    Comment by dr. suzanne lopez — February 16, 2010 @ 3:15 am

  15. Thank you for posting this…this is how I found out Laura had died, so it softens the blow. I was literally going to see her in 2 weeks and was searching the Internet to find something about her for a friend in New York I wanted her to meet. Horrible…and yet fitting with the course she set up for her life. I met her about 18 years ago in Studio City, when my friend Soumaya moved in with her. Laura came down the stairs topless as I came in the front door, and said, “Pretty good for 50, eh?” We proceeded to empty a bottle of tequila, etc. I also knew Frank through their mutual friends at Cal Arts and one of Warhol’s actors, but the early ’90s were a rough time for all of us. I kept in touch with her after she moved back to New York, and I remember that little place on Park Avenue…I didn’t know about Banks leaving, and all this other shit…I am just stunned.

    Comment by Joel J. Rane — February 18, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  16. My most sincere condolences to you Frank and to the family. I will be there Sunday to hoist a glass to the beautiful and life-affirming Laura that I knew — and still know, and to wish her bon voyage on this next leg of her long and wonderous journey throughout time and the universe.

    Comment by tony powers — February 23, 2010 @ 4:36 am

  17. I didn’t know this had been posted until I was on the Internet trying to found out memorial information for friends in NY who also knew Laura. I now live in Honolulu, but continued to talk to Laura every few days or so. I’d love it when I answered the phone and heard, “Hello, Darling, it’s Laura.” She and Frank were among the very first people I met when I moved to LA in 1977. I was immediately swept into their circle of incredibly creative friends. As a standup comic, I would leave the parties early to go do an 11 p.m. set, and Laura would say, “Let’s say break a leg to Martha, she’s going to go out and be funny for money at a comedy club.” When I had a big showcase, she could literally pack the house with her vast Rolodex. Attention all you screenwriters. Her life would make a fabulous movie.
    Aloha,
    Martha Jane

    Comment by Martha Jane — March 13, 2010 @ 12:41 am

  18. Please keep the stories coming… forever. There was something so “transcendental” in Laura, in knowing her, in that part of our lives she touched. The meaningless of her death overwhelms me. Please keep this going forever, do not let her go. I miss her so much.

    Comment by Teri Szucs — March 13, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  19. I was just on my Facebook and there was one of their ‘reminder’ to get in touch with one of my friends, and that friend was Laura Kronenberg. I thought to myself that I would love to see if Laura had posted any new photos, so I went on her Wall and discovered about her passing. I am terribly saddended and shocked and feeling ashamed of myself because about 6 months ago, I tracked her down by googling her, and discovered that we were both on Facebook.
    She asked me if I’d like to get together, and because I procrastinated, it never happened. I regret that now with all my heart.
    Laura Cavestani was my video teacher at Cal Arts, and my mentor. When she came to teach at Cal Arts in 1976ish, she introduced portable video equiptment to us film students. But, more importantly, she exposed us to a sort of guerilla filmmaking, where you could grab your camera and shoot whatever came into your imagination. I remember that she was such a breath of fresh air. She was not just a teacher, but she was one of us, and you felt like you could talk to her about anything, unlike other teachers that were there. She was incredibly encouraging and never criticized ideas that you might have. She just wanted you to “go and do it.” I recall that she had stories to tell about Patti Smith, and the Warhol gang that I was so facinated by. I realize now that she could have bragged and dropped names like crazy, but she was much more humble about all the great people she had known. I guess she was more focused on the work she was doing with her students, always busy trying to update the video equiptment they offered at Cal Arts. She realized what video was to become and she wanted us to have the best. I believe she may have left Cal Arts because they just didn’t get her. After college, I went my own way, living and working in L.A., and then Paris, and then ending up in New York, and I thought about her often, wondering where she was, assuming that she had remained in L.A. But, because of the Internet and Google, I finally was able to track her down. Laura, you were a wonderful teacher and mentor to me, because you opened up my eyes, made me feel excited about my work, you encouraged me and made me feel like what I was doing had value. I know that you stood up for me at reviews, and made sure to tell me when others had good things to say about my work. I wish I had gone to see you to tell you how much you mattered to me. My heart goes out to all of her friends and family.

    Comment by Bob Gould — March 17, 2010 @ 3:55 am

  20. I previously have moved into an apt in Bushwick Brooklyn NY without knowing the history of my soon to be apt. I walked in and it looked like the apt was abandoned, the realtor never told me why but that someone left unexpectedly. The energy and vibe my boyfriend and I felt entering the apt was something we cannot explain. It was the most amazing, positive, exuberating energy that was very inviting. Although the apt was smaller than what we wanted, we knew this was the place. After moving in the neighbor downstairs then told us about Laura’s passing. At first we were shocked somewhat scared, but something told us don’t be frightened.
    Yesterday I found out who this amazing person was from speaking to another neighbor, Laura the wonderful artistic/socialite hipster.

    I never knew Laura but I felt and still feel her energy. Regardless of how she passed away, she seemed like an amazing artistic woman. I am obsessed with the 1960’s- 1970’s and to know I am a resident in someone who breathed, loved and lived that culture puts me at a loss for words.

    I hope Laura has finally found happiness within herself. I have 2 bells that hung from the fan which now hang from a nail in my kitchen. A piece of her will always be with my boyfriend and I may she rest in peace.

    Comment by Natasha Sanchez — April 1, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

  21. Natasha, What a wonderful communication! Wishing you and your boyfriend all the best in your new home. Invisible energy speaks its own language that we all understand beyond past, present and future.
    Phyllis

    Comment by phyllis segura — April 2, 2010 @ 6:36 am

  22. i knew her very well
    as a matter of fact she met banks while we went to a party together
    and stuck with him the same night.
    Though i was a good friend of bank(poor back gammon player not like laura and i)
    i hanged out many many evening and night first at the gramercy and then
    on Park ave south
    i loved her style her generosity how fun she was to be with
    we were very close at one póint
    love to her family and her friend
    bernard

    Comment by bernard leroy-pawloff — June 19, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  23. I only learned of Laura’s death tonight(9/25/10)months after it happened. I was going through many consecutive Facebook entries and this just spontaneously popped up somehow.

    I knew Laura through Frank back in the mid 80’s when they were customers of mine(I’m a piano tuner). So I was at the residence several times that they had up on Mulholland Dr. Laura and I would talk about various things but at this point in time about the only thing I can think of now is that on one visit when probably discussing health issues, I’d mentioned about having Crohn’s Disease and both Frank and Laura had a lady friend who had suffered from it previous to this. I lost track of them for many years but only reconnected when Frank had re-married and I’d heard they were divorced. These days Frank’s still a customer and Facebook friend and I was also glad he was able to see me in a play I was in at a church in the Los Feliz area in the spring of last year.

    Comment by Mark Mandell — September 26, 2010 @ 4:34 am


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