Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rind Heart/Reinhardt

Dear Members,

Today, I invite you to consider initiation into a secret society.  You will need to take some time and effort during the pledge period- many will not complete the training.  The society gives you, however, a very generous amount of time to complete your quest:  The rest of your life.

To begin- study the beauty of this melon's rind:

And now, regard this Ad Reinhardt painting:

Now comes the challenge, and it cannot be completed here, online;  all I can do is to point you towards a path that will intersect an image like the next one, another Ad Reinhardt painting:

This is one of his black paintings-  It will look like nothing here, like the void, the sublime abyss.  That in itself is sufficient, plenty, more than enough, even; but, there is more to Ad Reinhardt than nothing.  To touch it, to feel it, you must visit one of these works in person.  A great pilgrimage is necessary.  You will need a spear and magic helmet- named Curiosity and Intellect.  Undertake this quest with all my best wishes.  Once you have completed your mission, seen and felt, and understood these pure paintings, you are in, you may wear your special hat and pin, and your membership is lifetime.  As it is a secret society, it has no name, and we have no meetings, except for when we stand in the glory of these paintings and meet transcendentally on the plane of appreciation.  See you at the next clambake or convocation!

More about the man.  I know you will be smitten by him!  He is a delight in every way.  Be sure to enjoy his droll art comics.

Here are some places you can find a black Ad Reinhardt painting:  The Guggenheim, The Whitney, Moma, The Tate.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Nights Out On TheTrail

Dear Strummers,

Do you know that I have three perfect songs for your trail rides?  For your camp fires?  For the back of your Ford Econoline?  For your front porch couch?  I learned The Streets of Laredo when I was but a youth, and I thought it was the perfect cowboy song for me- In beautiful Western waltz time, I really never thought I could fall for another.  I know you can guess that I must have-  when I kludged my way through Long Black Veil, it displaced The Streets, and the mournful lover crying o'er bones was my new slightly morbid lament of choice.  Well, yes, what can happen once will happen again, and presently, I am all over Ghost Riders in the Sky

You, dear reader, are the lucky one, because I give you all three at once, and the beauty of this, is that now you can be watching, and waiting, and listening, for the fourth song to add to these fantastic three.

See y'all out on the trail, maybe on the night of the big ol' Super Blood Moon?

It all really started with Old Paint- before I even touched a guitar.  Which, on second thought, is probably still my favorite.  Play all four, and order them as you like.  Oh, and a little trivia for you-  Ford Econoline is a song that Nanci Griffith wrote about Rosalie Sorrels and Kate Wolf, and if you don't know Rosalie, well, you know what to do, Way Out in Idaho.  Oh, yes, and what about Kate?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Googie, Boomerang, Bucky, etc.

Dear Darlings,

I just read an article about driving a replica Dymaxion in my brother's magazine, and I found this place:  The Neon Museum.

The Dymaxion was familiar to me, I may have mentioned Buckminster Fuller to you here before- but the Boneyard of Las Vegas light-up signs was all news to me!  Of course, two-acres of signs no one uses anymore is absolute grist for the Dodo mill, so I will make a foray soon, into that difficult terrain of Sin City, and hopefully I will bring you back images of melancholic splendor.  Stay tuned. 

In the meantime, you might want to rush out and visit it yourself- which, as you know, would be even better than waiting for my report.  You might also want to consider another architect, John Lautner.  It is his coffee shop which brings us the term Googie to describe mid-century (yes, that's last century, dear, some of us are still living) architecture.  Googie is a great term, of course, but you might also try:  Raygun Gothic, Doo Wop, Populuxe, Jet- or Space-Age, and bringing right round to the beginning again, Coffee Shop Modern.* 

By this time, you must be frothing at the bit to learn more about just what physical characteristics these terms reference.  It need hardly even be said, but start with Wikipedia, or, if you are a lucky one, your library or bookstore.

In closing, Doo Wop on, my lovelies.

*  What I recommend is that you gather a few intelligent friends, get out on the road in your automobile, drive to your nearest most Doo Wop coffee shop, and hash it out over a cup of that beverage.  When you are done deciding which term is best, you can settle on a date to drive out to see the Neon Museum.  In fact, I will meet you there-  get the large corner booth- I can't wait to see you in the still of the night.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Dear Loves,

Another lemon, another tart, another Lemony Snicket book.  My young cousin first mentioned to me Lemony Snicket, maybe 12 or even 13 years ago now.  She said, at her then age of eleven, "you are gonna love Lemony Snicket!" 

My friends, you are gonna love him, too!  I read somewhere that his novels are postmodernism for children- well, that statement alone piques one's curiosity, doesn't it?  What I love is the many literary references, and his candor about life's vagaries with his readers.  Lemony Snicket makes me want to read, and he makes me want to write. 

I am reading his book for Big People now (We Are Pirates), and I don't yet know what I think about it, but I will tell you that the fourth in his 'film noir' styled mystery series entitled All The Wrong Questions is due out any day now.  Visit his entertaining website here, and try a small taste of his writing, from The Wide Window, Book the Third in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Harper Collins, 2000:

But even if they could go home it would be difficult for me to tell you what the moral of the story is.  In some stories, it’s easy.  The moral of “The Three Bears” for instance, is “Never break into someone else’s house.”  The moral of “Snow White” is, “Never eat apples.”  The moral of World War One is “Never assassinate Archduke Ferdinand.”  But Violet, Klaus, and Sunny sat on the dock and watched the sun come up over Lake Lachrymose and wondered exactly what the moral was of their time with Aunt Josephine. 
 The expression “It dawned on them,” which I am about to use, does not have anything to do with the sunlight spreading out over Damocles Dock.  “It dawned on them” simply means “They figured something out,” and as the Baudelaire orphans sat and watched the dock fill with people as the business of the day began, they figured out something that was very important to them.  It dawned on them that unlike Aunt Josephine, who had lived up that house, sad and alone, the three children had one another for comfort and support over the course of their miserable lives.  And while this did not make them feel entirely safe, or entirely happy, it made them feel appreciative. 

Here is a song that sums up some of the message of Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Events series.
And here is perhaps not exactly what you want, but something you might need- a recipe, to celebrate the upcoming Lemony release:

Lemon Tart No. 8

 (adapted in part, from Smitten Kitchen's Whole Lemon Tart, and Martha Stewart's Citrus Tart)

For the crust:

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup almond flour
1 egg yolk

Whirl all of this together in a food processor, or whatever you like to use to make a crust.  Press it into and up the sides of a tart pan- an 11 or 12 inch diameter pan works well.  Pierce the crust with a fork and then bake it at 350 for 15 minutes.  It will be far from fully cooked- this is good.  Take it out of the oven, and press it down with the bottom of a measuring cup or something similar, to make room for...

The Filling:

1 whole lemon, sliced thin, seeds removed
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 whole eggs
2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a blender, or food processor, pulverize the lemon slices with the sugar.  Then add the butter- blend it until smooth.  Add the eggs, salt, and cornstarch- blend again, until smooth.  Pour it into your crust, and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Let cool to room temperature before finding out that it is darned good.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Felt Hat Day!

Dear Cheapaux-ed,

Today is Felt Hat Day, and I have been waiting three-quarters of a year to wish you a happy one!  And to offer you a link:  a recipe for a Buster Keaton porkpie hat.  Yes, a hat recipe is rare indeed!  If you would like a tutorial on it, Dr. Moon Rat can help.

The Damfinos are the International Buster Keaton Society, and they have a place on their website where you can purchase a Buster K. porkpie, if you aren't handy with felt-hat modification.

If you'd rather skip the hat, you can get some Buster Keaton films, at this interesting site for silent movies: Kino Lorber. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Like a Long Necked Goose.

Dear Ones,

You know what I like: chantilly lace, you playing your guitar, reading books that have words you need to look up, making a pie, and the sight of you on eight wheels! 

I haven't asked you to skate in months- and why?   Well, periodically, I give up on you- yes, it pains me to confess it, because the fault is all mine.  Ask yourself:  When was the last time she suggested I try tap dancing?  My, it has been years!  What could this mean?? 

The trouble with loving things very much, is that it is sometimes dismaying to see that others' fires for the subject cannot be lit.  So, I slip to the back of the bus for a time, and I ponder what I could say to convince you, and then, I make a new sally at the windmill that is your resistance.  Or, perhaps it is my resistance, too- the resistance of all humanity.  Because, really, if you implored the holy heck out of me, I still wouldn't give much more time to trying to listen to brostep.   It just doesn't reach me, baby.

So what can be done?  Meet me in the middle-  I will loan you my skates, and you can play  Skrillex on your smartphone's speaker.  It isn't a perfect world, but it's ours, all ours.

 Ain't no resistance in this film:

None here, either, even on the rough and tumble pavement:

Try this film on how skates are made, and see if you can resist getting a pair!

PS  One more Chet Faker song, I think, as an outro.  But, no one will blame you if want to hear the original, too.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Outrageous Beauty.

Dear Dirt Tillers,

To think, it came from a tiny seed, planted months ago!  Watching things grow is a very inexpensive hobby- you don't even need seeds; the birds are always planting things, and unplanned plants come up anywhere there's a sliver of earth.  Don't think of them as weeds, that wouldn't encourage them or your new hobby.

Submitted for Your Approval.

Dear Players,

You know that all-girl band we've been working on?  I think we might want to sound, maybe even look, a little like this band:

Only more heartfelt, and a lot less ironic, and more minimal, certainly... don't you agree?  See you in the garage, at the next practice.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bewitched; Ensorcelled.

 Jar for Time
(2015, cottonwood bark, wool felt, journal pages, peony pistils, beeswax)


Dear Comrades in Making,

Do you ever wonder, as I do, how you might have made such a thing as that?  As that sentence, as that drawing, as that painting or sculpture?  Or a song, a bit of music?  Do you see it and think, my goodness, how did I do that, I wonder?

I have often thought that I must be extremely forgetful, or not very attentive to my own process, but reading Philip Glass' memoir, Words Without Music, has me considering my addled brain differently.  In this rewarding book, Mr. Glass writes about his position as composer versus his position as witness:

When you have one foot in this world and one foot in the other world, the foot in the other world is the foot that takes you into the world of clarity and power.  The problem with recall is that when I return to the world of the witness, I'm not sure if I'm remembering correctly what I wrote, because I'm not using the same tools to remember as I used to write.  The world of the witness is less powerful than the world of the writer, because the function of writing will eventually rob the witness of his energy so that the writer will be able to conceptualize the "art" work.

I am ensorcelled by books about peoples' adventures in creative activity- or, let me put it more poetically, I love to read tales of encounters with the muses.  Why, you might ask?  Because I enjoy sharing the company of like-minded folk.  If you were to wander into The Brown Study today, you would find me recommending Words Without Music to anyone who came through the doorway.  I would suggest that you let its pages of interesting tales, people, travels, and musings float your thoughts down the ever-widening river of time. 


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Radio On.

Dear Mobile,

As I drive around, I play my car's radio and I notice that there are some lovely songs that sound just like what they are about. Or maybe, they are about just what they sound like.   I am sure there is a word to describe this condition, a word like onomatopoeia, except it would refer to music instead of words.  I am going to drive out and see if I can find this word, and in the meantime, please enjoy these tunes that reflect driving in their rhythm, structure and feel.