Some years ago, out of the proverbial blue, I got email from Trish Brandt-Robuck, who breeds llamas. She’d bred a gorgeous little baby llama, completely black, and wanted to name him after a black opera singer. Children often visited her llama ranch, she told me, and she liked to give her llamas educational names. Was there, she asked, some black male opera singer, whose story would be something the kids could learn from?
I suggested Roland Hayes, not an opera singer, but a deep and masterful recitalist, and supremely important in the history of African-Americans in classical music. Trish liked the name, and so ever since there’s been a llama named Roland Hayes.
A few years later, Trish asked me again about a musical name, and we came up with Maurice Ravel. He and Roland Hayes have the same mother.
But nothing prepared me for what happened two weeks ago. Trish emailed, again out of the blue, to say that the mother llama Tatiana) had had another baby, and would I mind if he was named after me? I just about fell down. I love animals (as readers of this blog must have noticed), and to have a llama named for me is both a great delight, and an honor. The connection was the baby’s sandy color — hence Sandow, and what especially touches me is that Sandy was my father’s nickname, the name everybody called him.
Besides, the baby is just completely gorgeous. Meet — to give him his full, official, breeder’s name — RBR Spreckles Greg Sandow, or Sandow for short: