Sunday, November 10, 2019

In typical precise order.

Dear Streets,

Your song for today has been heard on the Dodo before, but it must be played again, and I recommend, just for this song, a whiskey and soda with a little lemon twist.  It's a darn fine combination.

I think I have told you about seeing the incomparable Jonathan Richman in 1989 or 1990?  He played a place we used to go to for interesting music called The Barn.  When I try to determine where it was now, it's all a low fog of causeway and Delta flatness.  Suffice it to say it was there, it was small, it was real, and I fell for Jonathan Richman like a ton of bricks; you would have too, he is solid charisma.

This song's trudging passages, alternating with frenzied staccato still send me.  Here are some chords if you want to try it for yourself.

I'll never see you anymore.

Dear Listeners,

Oh man!  Check this out!  I hate to send you there, because, you will never come by here anymore.  Still, I can't just keep you in the dark and save you for only me, so this could be goodbye....

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Bake Along.

Dear Bakers and Cooks,

Hey!  I have an idea!  Let's have a bake along!  The neighbors tree is loaded with apples, and I found this interesting dessert at Atlas Obscura's food subdivision: Gastro Obscura (yes, you should check it out). 

The whole recipe is on this short film*- I am going to bake the Marlborough Pudding in Old Bess, our trusty oven even.  I hope someone out there will use a hearth and a cast iron dutch oven. 

Let's meet again soon to discuss results!  Oh, and, I think that just isn't enough butter in that pastry, but maybe I will try it that way....

*  Say, did the sharp viewers notice that something extra is poured into the pudding?!?  It was melted butter!  Here is a written recipe

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Birds.

Dear Looking Out the Window,

Oh my!  They are everywhere right now- the Raven is talking to himself in the window of the barn to the North, the finches are moving in a tight flock of chirping, the shrubs send up cyclones of sparrows when I walk out the door.  There are bluebirds in the bath, and towhees, flickers, doves, thrashers, and wrens scuffling on the ground. 

When you begin to watch birds, as a verb, a hobby, to birdwatch; at first it is all leaves and splitseconds.  The feathers are indistinguishable from the foliage, and if you are lucky enough to spot something moving, it’s like a flashbulb and there isn’t time to recognize anything more than that it might have been a bird?  As you put in your hours, though, forms begin to emerge from the leaves- after awhile, you have a sense of bird and non-bird, and gradually, there is enough time to see some things that approach details: brownish, a forked tail, a roundness, a long pointed beak.  Eventually, you can glimpse but a shadow and know that it was an oak titmouse.  You also become attuned to the sounds of the different birds; even the sounds of the wingbeats.  In fact, after a long while at it, you can become quite amazed at the variety of details that you are able to identify.  Things that in the early days you never dreamed you could notice- things like the rising and falling arc that certain birds make in flight.  Or, the sound of some birds’ feet, as they scuffle around in the leaf litter.  It’s all very distinctive, it turns out.

The time of counting for Project Feederwatch is very soon, and I hope this year you will sign on and make a regular appointment with your backyard birds.  The practice of looking is very rewarding.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Dear Days,

To celebrate this 500th day of roller skating, let's have a few notable 500s:  A band, a song, and a sweet, sweet ride.  Or, maybe order one of these 500s.  You will want these chords, too, so you can play along on the guitar.

Another 500, and another.  Let's see, that makes 3000, I think.  That will be December 24, 2027. See you then!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Subverted expectations.

Ryan, Green-Eyed Monster, 2019 (KR 19.012) A

Dear Sparkles,

I really admire the various juxtapositions represented in Kathleen Ryan's work: small things made big, ephemeral things made fixed, moldy made semi-precious.  I also like the notion that beadwork is kinda crafty and a little bit womenswork-ish, and that she has taken it to such a large scale.  What is not to like about this bedazzled, half-rotted lemon sculpture?   Doesn't it send you running out to your studio to glue some little things onto substrates?  It does me, and I have a lot of glitter that I think I have been ignoring too long now, fearing that glitter might be a bit too girly or tacky for the (ha!) 'high' art things I have been mucking around with.  Yes, I think it is time to experiment with putting on some glitz. 

Onwards, then, to our project for today: to make a little something inspired by Kathleen Ryan's work!

Want to see more?   An article, and a gallery link.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

To redeem the work of fools.

Dear People,

Do you remember a tv show called Square Pegs?  I bet you do; there a was a girl on it, a "Soc" is probably what the word for her type was, and she used to say:  "People, it behooves me..." to give you the song of the day.

It also behooves me to tell you a little more about Choir!Choir!Choir! because it is right up my alley as a "musical project."  The choristers are not trained and practiced in the usual way- they are rather, people, who show up to sing.  Can you think of anything nicer than that?  I know I can't.

Friday, October 4, 2019

A night photograph.

Dear Shutterbugs,

I saw an inspiring movie about a photographer recently; it was all about stuff, and you know how I adore stuff, and as a corollary, I adore considering the meaning of the stuff we save, and the relationship between the things, the stuff, and the meaning of the stories that reside in the objects.

Consider, please, a glass duck shaped ashtray.  It's big, it's heavy, and it has a little mate, a smaller duck.  Consider also that the smokers who owned these items have departed this plane, and now there are just the ashtrays and no ashes.  Why keep these items?  Right now, I'd say, keep them because they telescope time and space.  One sees these ducks, and one sees a ghost of the table they sat on in the house of the smokers.  Mind you, I never saw them use these ducks to hold ashes; for ashes, they used a finny little sandbag thing, with a concave brass dish with a wavy brass strip attached.*

Which is another ghost image that lives with the ducks, the sandbag ashtray.  The little memory landscape map that these ducks reveal can grow and grow.  You step outside, beyond the table the ducks are on: the sky down there is so white, high, and un-blue.  It is nearly always warm and damp, and there are stringy, ungainly cacti clambering along a painted wall, and they bloom sometimes at night; huge, creamy, fragile trumpets of deliriously fine fragrance.  There are bricks, and a kind of feeling of scuffling along the grit of them near to the cacti.  There is a lot of light coming from the window, too, because now it is night.  It's all there, and how can this be kept with the ducks?  How can it remain in the ducks?  It cannot.  The ducks will go on perhaps, to tell a totally different tale, to people that I will never meet.

And that is the kind of story that stuff is telling all the time.

* A little like this one:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A sing along.

Dear Radio Dodo Fans,

Here is your song of the day.  My DJ played it for me, and so I wanted to send it along a little further.
Play it loud and maybe sing along in a parking lot.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

small bits

Dear Little Pieces,

Today your song is called Fragment II; and it's what they call a musical project, which is kind of nowspeak for what we might once have called a 'band.' 

I have been thinking about my own musical projects, in a kind of fantasy baseball way.  Here is a rundown of the projects I have been working on, albeit wishfully, and only in my imagination.

I have been playing cowbell for Exene Cervenka now for about a decade, and later this year, we will head out on tour, opening for Laurie Anderson.  I have been co-writing a song with Jonathan Richman; it will come out sometime next year.  In January, I will play keyboards in a project with Y La Bamba, and do some vocals too, on a filmscore for a new John Sayles movie.  For the holidays, I am doing a duet with Elvis Costello; we will be singing Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas.  I am also playing the buzzing fish shaped percussion thingy that I can't remember the name of, in a supergroup called Torch and Twang- we cover Kraftwork songs, and we are really killing it with the Sylvan Esso fans.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Dear You,

I am tired of trying to be polite about this, and actually, it might have been kinder if I had told you how I felt from the beginning.  I wanted you to accept me, to like me, to hear me.  I regret my lack of confidence more than anything.  I know you won't let me down, and I should never have doubted you.

It's a life and death matter now, and everyone now knows it, so, I need you to be honest about this, I need you to say something out loud, I need you to act on it.  I need you to mourn our luxurious lives.  I need you to sacrifice for beings less fortunate than you.  I need you to voluntarily use less of what you currently use, and I need you to come out on Friday and stand around the gazebo in the park with me:  Global Climate Strike

See you there, my humans! 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Now sky.

Dear Everyone,

I am so often amazed at the beauty we are offered from the sky.  Today there is this amazing texture and coloring in the sky.  It's a sky that demands setting out some chairs, and silently watching this vaporous spectacle together.  Join me!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Story & Song

Dear What's New,

A wonderful woman I know showed me this great Story Corps film, and so, of course, I wanted to hear Lavender Country, and you will want to too.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Wait for me.

Dear Waiting,

Today on Radio Dodo Anaïs Mitchell's Wait for Me.  Her folk opera, Hadestown is on Broadway now, if you happen to be out that way.

If you are staying put, have another version, and this one, too.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ojos derrotados.


Dear Shipwrecked,

A poem today, by Pablo Neruda.  Aquí en inglés.

LXVIII                                                             (Mascarón de Proa)

La niña de madera no llegó caminando:
allí de pronto estuvo sentada en los ladrillos,
viejas flores del mar cubrían su cabeza,
su mirada tenia tristeza de raíces.

Allí quedó mirando nuestras vidas abiertas,
el ir y ser y andar y volver por la tierra,
el día destiñendo sus pétalos graduales.
Vigilaba sin vernos la niña de madera.

La niña coronada por las antiguas olas,
allí miraba con sus ojos derrotados:
sabia que vivemos en una red remota

de tiempo y aqua y ollas y sonidos y Lluvia,
sin saber si existimos o si somos su sueño.
Está de la historia de la muchacha de madera.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Thought by thought.

Dear Radio Dodo Listener,

Your song for today is a really full pail; a stack of a song, that tells it all for everyone.  Steer Your Way.

There haven't been any songs here from this beautiful, beautiful final album from Brother Leonard, because I haven't yet wanted to talk to you about this album.  The day after he died I found myself in conversation with other mourners and I could not really accept their thoughts.  I didn't even want their thoughts.  I only wanted my thoughts, my place of private grief with a single, high window, and maybe a candle for when the sun went down.  I wanted my cot there, my plain table, a tiny chair, and blank paper and a good fountain pen.  What did I want to write there?  Something I still cannot write: all the things I want to write; the love, and the gratitude, and the deep, are always beyond my reach.  The only elegy I can write is hash and stale borrowings.  It's like that though, even for the great ones, I think.

I have listened to the album enough to have changed my mind four times on which is the best cut, and I am ready to tell you that this is it.  No further listenings will yield a different choice.  It's this one, but oh! so many of them are terrific.  You want it darker?  Listen to the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

So good!

Dear Artists, Chefs, and Saints,

Oh!  This is a lovely thing you will want to read right away.  I am working today on a lecture that I will give in a few months, collecting images that I hope will enlighten and expand the attendees minds and spirits.

Of course, I will show a few images of my own work, which, in review, looks very feeble and dubious.  Can I stand behind this big pink painting and pretend I know what I am doing?  What I am talking about?  No, of course I cannot.  I must fake it, or pull back the curtain enough to admit it is absurd to paint, and even slightly more absurd to talk about painting.  Some of them will not be ready for that, so maybe I can do it very cleverly, so that only the prepared ones will notice?  The trouble lies in the fact that I am certain the absurd is worthwhile; in fact, the more absurd, the more truthful it is likely to be, and so then, the more vulnerable and fragile and again, worthwhile.

Here, I will tell all; the Dodo is that kind of a thing; it's yelling out my worst fears and fantasies into an empty canyon without echo.  Stay tuned for the images in the days to come.

Friday, August 9, 2019

park here

Dear Mundane,

I love the ordinary exalted and these parking spaces filled with phrases chosen by a middle school in Salinas is the bee's knees!  How quickly can you get something like this done in your area?  I am going to ask my pals if they'd join me in fixing up some parking spaces- it can be our Project for the Year.


Monday, August 5, 2019

ramp rolling



Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Your Role for Today

Dear Sir,

I find myself in a jam.  Miss Otis regrets.  I am terribly sad and afraid that I do not want to attend your invitation.  I do not want to wear the mask.  I do not want to shoulder the conversation.  I do not want to mentor.  Or to be witty for you, like the trained seals barking for their fishes.  Yes, Miss Otis regrets.

Try this on for size:  You are Joe Smith.  You bring your really excellent Julia Child's Jello mold in the elaborate shape of a squirrel holding a nut to the Big Party.  People love it, and they ask you to bring it again.  And again.  And it goes on for years, and it is now called Joe's Jello by everyone who knows you, and no one else even dares to bring a molded item of any kind, because it will never be as good as Joe's.  And even more time passes, and then Joe is gone, and his Jello lives on in that people make the recipe, and they meet and they say "it's just not as good as Joe's,' and "Joe always brought his Jello, how I miss him!' and "Can you give me Joe's recipe for Jello?"  This is all good and a very nice memory of Joe, dead and gone.  It's the kind of thing you might hope to elicit.  Which is maybe why you bring a pineapple upside down cake and hope, in your secret heart, that you will become Known For It.

Let's consider another aspic aspect:  Joe tires of making the damned Jello on the 8th time, but he doesn't want to disappoint, and he enjoys the notoriety.  He is slightly trapped by the success of his Jello.  He would like to try, just once, a Dobos Torte.  In fact, maybe he did, once, and all anyone could say was "what?  You didn't make your Jello??"  So, yes, he is quite trapped in the role of the One Who Makes Jello for The Party.*

Stay with me now, Sir, because I know you are thinking of turning on an interesting podcast made by hipsters in NYC about the ways in which we assume different identities all the time, everyday.  Stay with me, because I am going to nudge you, or to permit you, to abandon some of these roles.  We are not only the Jello we bring, we humans.  We are quite complicated beings with many, many interests, goals, and fantasies. 

But, you say, that's not right- making Jello is not role-playing!  It's making Jello.  Well, be that as it may, bringing Jello has become a role for Joe, and he might be tired of it.  Also, we are playing roles all the time.  Right now, I am playing the role of a writer of this letter to you, and you may or may not be playing the role of reader.  If the idea of a role is too much for you, consider it a mode of being.  You might be in the receiving mode when you read this and you might not.

Let me offer further example:  You go to the post office to return the vegetable spiralizer you got on the internet, because you realized, while watching a very old episode of Dr. Who (wherein the Doctor meets a computer that he gave his mind to upon its birth as a sentient new being, and it has been flailing along for years with this split personality, wreaking havoc on everyone around it), you realized, that you might be entering a trap.  You might end up being the one that everyone goes to for spiralized vegetables, and you decided, deep in the clarity of the night, that you did not want this role after all.  So, you are at the post office with the box to return this potential role.  You get in line and now you play the role of the person who is slightly annoyed at having to wait, but you don't take it out on the poor beleaguered postal worker, although, you do think to yourself "I am not paid to be on this side of the counter, and you, Postal Employee, however much you may hate your job, are being paid to do it."  And the other people playing the same role remark to you on how long the line is and how inconvenient it is and you agree, in your role as Postal Customer.  You might say now, to me, Sir, that that is that, and how else could one possibly behave waiting in line at the post office? 

How happy I am that you asked!  You could take the time while you wait in line, to compose a manifesto for avoiding impulse purchases online.  Which you could put to music and maybe even upload a video of you and Joe performing it to YouTube.  Or you could say, to the person who says this is a mighty long line and slow, too, that you enjoy lines like this, because of the way it requires you to examine the floor tiles to avoid making eye contact with people who are playing the role of slightly annoyed at waiting in line at the post office.  Because, you might explain to them, you don't really want to get stuck in the same role every time you come to the post office.

Well, I know your time is precious, Sir, so I guess I will say just once more:  Miss Otis regrets.

*  Joe's crisis deepens:  If he isn't The One Who Brings the Jello, just who is he?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Acheronian Song of the Day

Dear Billy Joe,

Here is the song of today.  My DJ just played it for me.  In days past, I would have changed the station when this maudlin rot would come on the radio.  I guess I have gone soft.  One thing that has changed since those days is that Lucinda Williams kills this song.  Kills it.  She makes a true, operatic lament out of it, and it is great.

Try Bobby Gentry, too, for comparison.  Ms. Gentry would have sung it like Ms. Williams if she could have, I am certain.

The thing I love about this song is the way the dialogue tells the story.  Dialogue isn't the usual way a ballad is told.  I love the way that we know that Pa is a real insensitive piece of work, and that Ma is suggesting, hinting, that our storyteller ought to spend more time around that nice, young, eligible, tasty, and morally incontrovertible Brother Taylor.   But, what, exactly, do you suppose this bereft young woman and Billy Joe threw off of theTallahatchie Bridge?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Lunar Anniversary

Dear Mooning,

This is the day to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landing.  Here at the Dodo, we will take a pilgrimage to a nearby Moon Tree, make Moon Pies, and watch this excellent documentary.  Oh, and we will have this song on our party play list, too.  If you aren't having your own party, come over and have a Moon Pie with us!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Holy Moonmen!

Dear Moon Mission Enthusiasts,

Can you believe this amazing recreation of NASA's trip to the moon?  I love that people will make this kind of geeky thing, and that we can play with it, right now, right here, for free.  Enjoy it, and have a moon song for today.

A little cheesecake.

Dear Summer Cooks,

It's been a coon's age since we have had a baking recommendation for you here at the Dodo.  Mind you, we have been baking, but just hum-drum stuff:  Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch, scones, lemon bars, chocolate sheet cakes;  a couple of fancy chocolate tortes, but I didn't get any photos.

This lemon cheesecake was inspired by a really delicious marshmallow lemon cheesecake dessert at Coda.  If you get up to Southwest Harbor, be sure to stop there and have a meal.  The recipe is adapted from this cheesecake.  The meringue is showy and really so darned good on it!

1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
a pinch of salt

As you would for shortbread, combine the flour and sugar and lemon zest, then work the butter in until it is crumbly and then press it into a 10 inch spring form pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

20 ounces of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the meringue)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the oven to 475 degrees.  Butter the pan above the crust.  Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add the salt and flour.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Beat in the heavy cream and the lemon zest.  Pour the filling over the crust for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or so.  It should be set in the center.  Let it cool forever.  Well, like 4 hours at least- it can't be warm, but it can be cold, so you could put it in the fridge and put the meringue on the next day, right before you eat it.

2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sugar

Beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy; gradually add the sugar and stop beating when it's glossy and holds nice, stiff, showy peaks.

Spread it on your cheesecake and then caramelize the meringue with a torch.  If you are lucky, your neighbor will have one in his garage that you can borrow.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Art Car


Dear Drivers,

We strive here at the Dodo plant to bring you the best of what there is in the world, and a recent correspondent sent me an article on artist Peggy Noland.  One thing she makes are Art Cars;  a fabulous curiosity that anyone can have and make and drive. 

I met an art car owner/creator once and she invited anyone to make additions to her work/car.  It was like a kitsch museum turned inside out; with lots of little tacky objects glued to it.  It was great, because of the freedom it expressed, not because it was a beautiful object, or because it had been transformed from humble vehicle to something grander.  The Art Car isn't necessarily grand, it's more of a mobile folk art site, which is what the world needs now.

Watching Ms. Noland's Cartoon Up videos brought me another treat; a concept and phrase new to me: ASMR.  I never even knew there was a name for that feeling, and I adore anything that "may overlap with frisson."

If you can spare a little more time for beautiful sentiments and ideas, try this.  If you want a little more Jackie DeShannon, here it is.  If that doesn't give you ASMR, try this song

Monday, July 8, 2019


Dear Still Skating,

It has gone on.  After getting to the end of a year by going to the end of the US with my roller skates, and skating on wet decks, bedroom carpets, and a fine maple roller rink in Auburn, Maine., I wasn't convinced I should hang it up entirely, and once you add another day, you might just as well add another.  Which is how I got to here; 400 days.

Auburn's rink is the Rollodrome, and it is charming.  I haven't added a rink to my list for some time, and it brings the grand total to 38. I can't wait to open my own. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


Dear Thomas,

Here's the thing about doubt- it's creeping like a shadow all around the place, and if you let it touch you, if you let it fall on your ideas, on your skin, you are halted, stopped, going no where, becalmed.

The thing is to do something, anything.

Today, I am going to my making place, to combine little bits into some things that will go all together in an exhibit 9 months from now.  I am hoping to have loads of oddments, all pinned to the walls.  My mantra for this project:  More than this, there is nothing.  Sometimes, it feels even less than nothing, and that can be a bit worrisome.  But, mostly it seems like a very appropriate response to everything.  Which might be circular reasoning, if you are still with me.

More Than This is our song for the day, and there is another More Than This for you, as well as chords for you to strum while you sing it and believe it, because it is as true as anything yet.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Time of Wonder










Monday, June 17, 2019

Travel blind.

Dear Suzanne,

Here is your song of the day.  It's unbearably good and I am on your wavelength. 

A long time ago, there were a lot of record stores; and they are largely gone, but I still save my money to buy records.  I used to keep the money in a doll's teapot I had on my shelf.  One shop I frequented was Tower Records, and they had a free magazine, with an interesting section called Desert Island Disks.  The idea being that these were the 10 records you'd want if you were stuck on a desert island. 

Here are nine more versions, to make a Desert Island list for this perfect song. 










Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday, June 7, 2019


Dear Questioning, Quitting, and Beginning,

Submitted for your approval: James Benning's film Twenty Cigarettes.

It might be genius, or maybe it is just boring.  It is definitely beautiful, and certainly uncomfortable in the old familiar performance art way, although I love the distance the camera imposes between me and these people.  There's a bit of the *sublime in it, the void, the terrible immensity of us.

I guess what it could be is just a document, or a collection like any other: bottlecaps or Fiestaware or first editions.  I don't think it can be watched in it's entirety, except as a kind of endurance test, like a triathlon.  I love the uncomfortableness of the persons being filmed, and how that reflects onto viewers; like an enchanted mirror.  I also love the way my mind won't stop supplying a narrative in the vacuum of one:  Where is this person?  What are they feeling?  What do they do when they aren't in front of this camera?

* The sublime in art is a delightful concept that we spent many months discussing in graduate school, which is a place made for such pastimes, because no one there has any soil to till or livestock to feed.   I adored it, of course, and you would have too, but for a five second description of what it refers to, see this link.

Monday, June 3, 2019


Dear All,

That is it.  One year.  365 days of roller skating at least once each day. 

So, now what?  It's a bit of an issue isn't it?  This might be the root of fear of failure, because really, if you set out to do a thing and you do it, then what do you do?  There's a lot of drama in the trying, a lot of suspense, but there isn't much in the completion of it.  I would worry, for instance, about an injury or illness that might prevent me from chalking up another day.  I imagined myself in traction, like the cartoons, with my leg in a cast, hanging from a bar over the bed, and I would have to beg the nurse to please just put my skate on over it, just for a few minutes.

I have decided, and I have been considering what it means for the entire time, but I have more actively wrestled with it for the last 5 months or so, as this milestone approached, that what I will do is keep at it, but not because it is a goal now.  Which means you can't complete it, and you can't fail at it either, if you decide, say, not to take your roller skates to Maine and use them for a few minutes in hotel bathrooms or the potholed parking lots of roadside rest areas.  I think this is the part I will miss the most, the absurdity of doing it everyday no matter how small an effort or how ludicrous the surface.  I will miss the counting, which I did by hash marks in pencil on paper at the end of the day.  It's gone by so fast.  In many ways I am not sure I recommend it.  It's a sad sort of an endeavor, except for the few times you tell someone what you are doing and they cannot even imagine doing such a *thing; but that is a very cheap way to get your self-esteem, and I told only a dozen or so people what I was doing.  In that sense, it barely existed as a project at all.

It is best understood perhaps as a performance, or a ritual.  Which has now ended, and I must devise a new way to mark time, or I must extend this one further, indefinitely.

* Like, for example, brushing one's teeth everyday, or feeding a goldfish, or drinking a cup of coffee, or looking into a mirror in the morning. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Images of Matchstick Men

Dear Matchstick Man, 

A sculptor I know asked about the difference between sentiment and sentimentality.  Right now, run and write down what you think it is, before I go and ruin your gestating definitions.  If you like what you write, you can keep writing, and skip this reading.  If you really like what you write, you can keep writing and then write it to someone.  Maybe to me, maybe to The World.  If you really really like what you write, you can put it in a book, on a shelf, in a library.  Then, you should rest, I think, because that's a lot of doing.

Meanwhile, a few of you may have not run and gotten a pencil, and so let us now consider what might be meant by 'sentiment.'  A sentiment is a nice thought or feeling when you look at that sugar bowl that used to be your great grandmother's, as you remember her fondness for tea with sugar, and her enormous aluminum tea kettle, her hob, her back stoop, her crocheted hot pads.  This is well and good and it's what makes Proust great.

'Sentimental', now, is a little stickier perhaps.  It can mean that you are being too soft, or blinded to the hard truths.  Great grandmother is long dead, her kettle is long gone, and there was a time when they thought that aluminum cooking utensils and pots were giving us all Alzheimer's.  Plus what, there must be 7 million other great grandmothers who liked sugar in their tea and Proust has already written all we could hope for in one lifetime of reading.

Now what?  Another thought experiment: let's risk it, let's go ahead and be mushy instead of erudite.  It isn't all that bad, these hearts, flowers, and cliché symbols where a tender, delicacy of expression might have been.  If that is the worst we can do, to make a silly greeting card when we were shooting for a pietà, well, so what? 

I hope your book is done by now, and I hope it is filled with the truths and beauties of a thousand years and a million gestures of kindness and insight.

Oh, yes, and don't forget to take this song with you, when you go.

Friday, May 17, 2019

White Freightliner

Dear Blues,

A song for you today, in three versions. 

Now that you know it, here are the chords so you can play it yourself on your back porch.  Don't you  just love the way the song sounds like the engine and the truck and the road and the speed of going?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

the debate continues

Dear Women,

I have been considering the Bundt pan as a symbol of the tyranny and shaming of 'decluttering' for nearly two years now, and it turns out I am not the only one to recognize the Bundt pan as a weapon in the raging war of 'stuff' vs. 'organization.' 

Why the Bundt pan?  I found it being sold at a friend's house in a garage sale and my friends' explained their Marie Kondo induced epiphany vis-à-vis the Bundt pan.  They used it barely once a year, and really, even though the cake was delicious, they only made it once a year.  The cake may have sparked joy, but the pan did not.  It couldn't be kept for such a minute fraction of duty.  I mentioned that it might be a problem when one wanted to make it and there was no pan, but this wasn't even audible in the landslide of stuff they were shoveling out their garage door.  They were headed for a new life, in a new town, and they needed less and different stuff for their new life. 

So be it.  I guess I can't rescue every Bundt pan in every home in every town.  A one-woman crusade to save occasional cake-making? 

I give you this article, on the politics of kitchen spaces; see what you think about it, and enjoy, above all else, the freedom you have to hold onto your Bundt pan or to give everything away.

Friday, May 10, 2019

optimism in sound

Dear AM,

I left my bed this morning: the covers, the pillows, the cats, and the window filled with pale gloom sky, and turned on the radio to find this sound.  It will be today's song of the day, and I thank my DJ for bringing it to me.

They say, and they are right, that it's the little things.  I had no reason to be ambivalent about the beginning of the day, but I was, and the round, surfy sound of this song's guitar really changed my mind about what the day might bring.  Remarkable.  One look, one chord, one little bird flapping by and it's all worthwhile.

This kind of turning on a dime is something I'd like to invoke, or refer to, in making a painting or drawing. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Fine for a while.

Dear Influencers,

What you are building.

You are building a world.  For people, if you like, but maybe for dogs or horses, or even all three, but the point is, you are building it.  You are choosing what to give to your citizens, your habitués.

 Your people can have whatever you give them.

Don't underestimate the power you are wielding.  You don't have to have your people grow up, or face the facts, or learn some tough love.  Nope, you can keep it nice and easy and light and friendly and fun. 

And tonight will be fine for a while.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Last Flowers?