When Ari met Tutti and The Guru
(By Cecily-Anna Bennett, www.cecilyanna.com)
The first time I found Ari Seth Cohen’s blog, Advanced Style, I remember being instantly inspired – enthralled by his photographs of wonderful older women with all the verve, vitality and vibrancy of people half (even a quarter) of their age. I could relate instantly, because my parents are two such people. And, thanks to the strange world of social media, giving us the ability to communicate with anyone and to forge friendships with strangers, Ari and I made contact.
It could have been the shot I tagged him in on Instagram of my mum Tutti, looking typically, inimitably eccentric in a bold pink and white drapey dress with her signature scarf tied in a huge bow atop her head. Or perhaps it was the picture of her nonchalantly rocking a flamboyant hat, kerbside at a café in our conservative suburban enclave. Either way, a few tweets turned into emails and before I knew it, to my delight, Ari had accepted my invitation to stay with us in Sydney (while on tour promoting his documentary) and I was able to give him an insight into my family.
Tutti and my dad Paul (whom we call The Guru, as a result of his metaphysical philosophies – and a new career at 67 as an esoteric author and spreader of ‘love and light’) are a force to be reckoned with. They get more creative, more colorful, with every passing year. They don't believe in becoming invisible with age. Rather, it’s as if they’re ageing backwards (The Guru has even manifested the age of 20 in his consciousness. You’re only as old as you feel, you see.)
My mum, Tutti, at almost-65, still says that she still hasn't discovered what she wants to do when she grows up. And yet, she has the most amazing eye for colour, fashion and design. She thrives on helping people, on being an amazing host and a loyal friend. People are inspired daily by her color, her flair, her fearless, vibrant style. But it’s not just her ‘look’ that draws people to her: she has a sparkle, an outrageous sense of humor, an endearing knack for crossing the line, a raucous voice and a laugh to match. Even when two years ago she was diagnosed with (and subsequently treated for) grade-three breast cancer, she staunchly maintained her irreverent, grab-life-with-both-hands attitude. It’s pure joy to be around her. She radiates wonderful energy and, when combined with my dad, it’s the stuff psychedelic dreams are made of.
The Guru is the type of man who wants to be one with all living things; who feeds dying bees honey in an attempt to revive them, and lovingly ferries ants from the kitchen, to the garden. He loves everything and everyone and believes unrelentingly in the inherent goodness of people and the power of positive thought. He’s an accomplished artist, gypsy violinist, classically trained opera singer and graphic designer. He’s a colourful dresser, a hilarious joke teller, and rocks an outrageous head of fluffy, snow white, curly, long hair, which, coupled with his penchant for bold prints and florals may be one of the reasons he so often gets called ‘madam’ from behind. And a few times from the front. Despite having a goatee.
I’m so proud of my parents, of how fun and funny and lovable and warm and totally bonkers-bananas they are, with their invaluable ability to make people smile by simply walking down the street. And I can't help but think they’re just like any one of Ari’s Advanced Style ladies: making the world that little bit brighter, one outfit – one flamboyant flourish – at a time.