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.