The O-town Scene

May 10, 2012

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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All The (Future) President's Women Book Details Obama's Pre-Michelle Dating Life Before law school, politics and the White House, and long before he met Michelle, Barack Obama was a smart, soul-searching college student in New York — and one of those maddening, emotionally distant dudes you remem- ber from your early 20s. Yes, David Maraniss, in researching his forthcoming bio "Barack Obama: The Story," managed to track down the future president's ex-girlfriends. And they turned over their letters and journals from that vaguely embarrassing time of one's life. Coming Events Obama's first college crush was the brainy Alex McNear, a literary type he met at Occidental College before transferring to Columbia for his junior year. The two reconnected when she came to New York in 1982 and had one of those dark-restaurant-talk-all-night summer romances. The long-distance relationship eventually ended, but first they exchanged passionate letters with literary name-dropping: "Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Munzer to Yeats," Obama wrote her. "You seem surprised at Eliot's irreconcilable ambivalence; don't you share this ambivalence yourself, Alex?" Obama's first serious girlfriend came two years later in 1983, when the 22-year-old fell for an older woman at a Christmas party in the East Village: Genevieve Cook, 25, an Australian elementary school teacher. A few days later he made her dinner, and she spent the night. "It all felt very inevitable," she told Maraniss. The two bonded quickly, he writes: "She kept a journal, as he did, and thought of herself as an observer, as he did, and brooded about her identity, as he did, and had an energetic, independent, and at times exasperating mother, as he did, and burned with an idealism to right the wrongs of the world, as he did." Throughout their 18-month romance, Cook recorded her thoughts about her oh-so-elusive lover: • "The sexual warmth is definitely there — but the rest of it has sharp edges. . . . Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness — and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me." • "How is he so old already, at the age of 22?" • "Barack — still intrigues me, but so much going on beneath the surface, out of reach. Guarded, controlled." But it was a lopsided affair: "When she told him that she loved him, his response was not 'I love you, too' but 'thank you' — as though he appreci- ated that someone loved him." By May 1985, it was over. "I read back over the past year in my journals," wrote Cook. "I guess I hoped time would change things and he'd let go and 'fall in love' with me. Now, at this point, I'm left wondering if Barack's reserve, etc. is not just the time in his life, but, after all, emotional scarring that will make it difficult for him to get involved even after he's sorted his life through with age and experience." Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard are seen in a film still of 'Swell Seasson,' which will be screened at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Walton Theatre. Movie goers got to know Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová when their songwriting collabora- tion in the film "Once" culminated in an Oscar win for best song in 2007. The movie also won World Cinema Audience Award for dramatic film at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Contributed Nick August-Perna is writing and editing a series of short documentary films for inclusion in the Museum of Jewish History and Tolerance Center, scheduled to open in Moscow in November 2012. Chris Dapkins co-founded Elkcreek Cinema. He has But behind the scenes where Glen and Mar's on- screen romance became a reality, a two-year world tour threatened to fracture their fated bond. Filmed in black and white, this music-filled documentary is an intimate look at the couple's relationship. Irglová is a Czech songwriter, musician, actress and singer. Glen Hansard is the principal songwriter and vocalist/guitarist for Irish group The Frames and one half of folk rock duo, The Swell Season. The documentary was created by area filmmak- ers behind the upstate New York group, Elkcreek Cinema. Early in their relationship, Obama told Cook (who was white) about his "perfect ideal woman" — whom Cook imagined would be "very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laugher, well-experienced — a black woman I keep see- ing her as." Maraniss tells us Cook was not Obama's last serious relationship before he met Michelle Robinson in 1989 — but didn't reveal any more details. The book hits stores June 19. By Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, The Washington Post May 10, 2012 O-Town Scene 23 worked as a director of photography for documentary programs airing on HBO, PBS and Bravo. Carlo Mirabella-Davis was raised in the mountains of East Meredith, and is also a co-founder of Elkcreek Cinema. Mirabella-Davis wrote and directed the short film "Knife Point," which premiered at the 2009 Sun- dance Film Festival, and for which he won Best New Director at the Brooklyn International Film Festival. He co-directed and produced "The Swell Season." For more information, visit "The Swell Season" will be screened at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Walton Theatre. Tickets for the screening are $7 at the door.

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