John Cage’s Father Set Underwater Record

Cage in 1972. (Courtesy Erich Auerbach/Getty Images)

As you may have seen in today’s Morning Links feature on Gallerist, the Los Angeles Times ran a superb piece about John Cage and his youth in the City of Angels by Mark Swed a few days ago. It’s part of the paper’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth, which is coming up on Wednesday. The article includes a really nice story about Cage’s father, who was a “visionary inventor.” From the article:

“Idiosyncratic spectacle was, in fact, part of Cage’s DNA. The first one he witnessed was as an infant, but he spoke about it all his life. On a late spring afternoon in 1913, the tip of a submarine emerged from the bottom of the Long Beach harbor where it had been buried under five feet of mud for 36 hours. Thousands of spectators let out thunderous cheers. Nearby factories blasted their whistles. Three dozen boat launches honked their foghorns.

“That glorious racket was what would now, no doubt, be called Cagean.

“Stepping off one of those launches, the mayor of Long Beach walked onto the flat top of the sub and cut the seal with a knife. Out climbed the sub’s inventor and his crew. They had just broken the world’s underwater record by a dozen hours, and the inventor said he felt ‘dandy.’ The event was the top story on the front page of The Times the next morning under the headline: ‘Comes Up Famous.’ A picture shows the young inventor in a bowler hat kissing his stylish wife. These were John Cage’s parents.”

The paper also a handy “guided tour” to the places that Cage frequented in the city. (Thanks to Greg Allen for the tip.)

If you come across any other tidbits that might give us an excuse to run another of Getty’s great portraits of Cage, please let us know.

John Cage’s Father Set Underwater Record