This conversation is not like the others. It's still Slow Radio. It's still a conversation about intimacies of all kinds. But this time, to close out Season Two, this time we recorded while sitting relatively upright, because my guest, is my Dad.
We recorded about a year ago, sitting on a somewhat noisy leather couch sectional, in a house that’s perpetually under construction, because my father loves the process of things.
My father’s name is Anthony, but he’s Anthony only to the family, and Tony to his friends. He’s always been “Dad” to me. He was born in Boro Park — at the time a half-Italian, half-Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. It’s also where I was born. He almost became a priest, but become a child psychologist instead. I suppose he would have ministered to souls either way. As far back as I can remember, my father’s greatest love has been carpentry. The house I grew up had a garage that functioned exclusively as my dad’s woodshop. I didn’t share my father’s fascination with building things, but to this day, I love the smell of sawdust, and have a great warm respect for those who craft with their hands.
My Dad’s a Catholic. I am not. The story goes: my parents gave me the choice between Hebrew School and Sunday School, and I chose neither. They didn’t force me to go. As a teenager, I became a Unitarian Universalist. My Dad has always respected my choices and approved of me.
After the age of 12, when my parents got divorced, I didn’t live with my father. My mother moved us down to Florida, and my father stayed in New York. In this conversation, I ask him questions I had never questioned before.
When I was 17, and I moved back to New York to go to college at NYU, my father moved me in and out of the dorms. He came to every play and avant-garde piece I did in college (like the Antigone I did in the fountain at Washington Square Park), and for many years thereafter. He has been free with his affirmation, and has always supported any choice that I enthusiastically made for my life. While my mother questioned the prudence of studying theatre in college, and threatened to pull her support if I persisted, my Dad said that he would support me to the best of his ability. He approved when I wanted to become a yoga teacher. He approved when I wanted to become an AcroYoga teacher. He approved when I wanted to dance Argentine tango in Buenos Aires. He said yes when I asked him to loan me his car for two months in the summer of 2008 to make my first cross-country road trip, teaching AcroYoga all along the way. He didn't mind that I put 10,000 miles on it. He approved when I decided to move to Portland. He approved when I had a Saturn Return crisis and all I wanted to do was travel for a year. He received me when I burned out 9 months into that year and spent a couple of months at my mom’s place, and then flew up to stay a cold winter in his fixer-upper house with him, stacking firewood and nursing myself back to adulthood. He approved when I told him that I lived in a sex-positive intentional community whose mission is to eradicate shame and encourage freedom of expression. He approved when I started a podcast, even though I’m broadcasting my secrets out into the universe, and he is a very private person. And, though a private person, he agreed the moment I asked him to make an episode with me, even though he has no interest in being recorded anywhere else. You see, he still has the capacity to surprise me. But maybe it's exactly true to character. Because this*is my* project. And my father has always, always supported what I mean to do in the world.
So you see, my father has been easy to love.
In this episode, the first part of our conversation, we talk about his father, a grandfather I never met, also named Tony: who battled with the prejudice against Italians, beat his kids with a machine strap, gave a eulogy in Harlem, never told my Dad that he loved him, and raped at least one of his daughters. My father broke the cycle of abuse. It only takes one generation to break a cycle, and that generation can be yours.
We also talk about why my father decided to go to seminary, the ad hoc sex ed that he got by asking priests, and why he decided not to be ordained (it's probably not what you think. At least, it's not what I thought.)
Dad regularly goes on tangents, so we meander a lot here, even more than usual, and there’s a lot of reminiscing. He also uses the word “whatnot” more than anyone I’ve ever heard. Actually, I can't recall hearing anyone else use the word “whatnot.”
In just a few weeks, I’ll be transitioning to a very different Patreon model and streamlining my tiers. The lowest tier will be $20 / month, and will give access to x unreleased, raw episodes (with never-before-heard guests) plus other choice, what do the kids call it these days? Premium content.
If you want to be grandfathered in with access to The Full Horizontal, all the part twos at $5, $10 (which includes the monthly love poems), or $15 per month (which includes a ticket to a live event), now is the time to become a patron of the horizontal arts! Go to Patreon.com/horizontalwithlila, if you want to be a part of my mission to cultivate intimacy across the globe.
This is the best conversation I’ve ever had with my Dad in my life. And I had it, because I was making something for you.
So: come sit down with us.
Chad Michael Snavely is my editor. He’s a podcast maven. Find his full roster on chadmichael.com. Alan Markley composed my intro music. Seek him on Instagram as plasticcannons. Shana Shay created my cover art. Hire her for graphic design and character illustration on 99 Designs.
This episode comes with a call to action: If they are alive, accessible to you, and you are willing and curious — interview your parents. You don’t how many chances you’ll get. And if you never recorded them, you might wish you did.
In next week's episode, the second half of my conversation with my Dad, we discuss how he met and married my mother in Brazil, the day of my birth, forgiveness, feminist vs. mainstream pornography, how my mother left my father, why my Dad didn’t move to Florida to be close to me, how he feels about the fact that I don’t want kids, and the kind of partner that he seeks now. He also tells me a story about my Grammy and a radio agent. For access to that episode and all the part twos, become a patron of the horizontal arts now, before the tiers go up in a few weeks! Patreon.com/horizontalwithlila
Until next week, may you have someone to love, something to do, and many many many things to look forward to!
Thank you for being, in this case, relatively upright, with us.