Tuesday, September 19, 2023



Beethoven's Trumpet (with Ear) Opus # 127, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135, John Baldessari, 2007.

Dear Earred,

Today we introduce a new program here at the Dodo; well, maybe 'program' is too big a word (I am all hopped up on this phrase from watching the Lady from Shanghai*), 'modest collection' is more accurate.  The collection will be Sounds I Love.  Here is the first submission!

The sound, (little imaginary drumroll of expectation here, please)...

  of the paint lid being hammered back down onto the the can of paint in the hardware store.

It is a lovely, drummy liquidy bonk, bang!  bonk, bang!  A thick, vicous, thunk-glub.

*  In the Lady from Shanghai (I recall reading somewhere, is all kinds of messed up, all kinds of pretending; Rita Hayworth in perverse blonde hair, Orson Welles in a forced brogue, etc.) our anti-hero, whom we have grown to love, is leaving the scene of the bloodied and beached sharks at the amusement park, and he says that he will be found "...innocent officially, but that's a big word - innocence. Stupid's more like it."  Stupid, dear ones, is nearly always more like it.  

Friday, September 8, 2023



Dear Feet,

Here it is, a song just right for your Friday Night Dance Party!  

Monday, September 4, 2023

Friday, September 1, 2023

pink just looks so good on us


Dear Garden,

It's September again, and the Zinnias are ready for their close up!  Next year, maybe we'll grow these beauties??!!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

In a sing-song voice.


In a sing-song voice (like this),
she told of the sky (which is not heaven),
with long pauses, which she imagined
filled with the sound of many accordions (like this);
And of the molten center (which is not hell)
and how it felt to be floating (like this)

And she told of the love songs she used to hear (like this);
all about loss and longing, and she told of the songs
she hears now (like this).  The songs of
mixed emotions, of murky unknowing, and she said,
in a sing-song voice (like this)
that love is 
not blind,
not cruel,
not all,
not smoke;
it is floating between.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

a steady hand


Dear Sympathetic,

And nerves of steel.  It is a very delicate operation, sifting through the objects of the past.  You need a steady hand and nerves of steel to pull the tiny needles from the endless hay.

I examined carefully several disintegrating plastic bags full of my old figure drawings.  They were good.  The weight was where it was heavy, the line was where it was light, the shadow was where the energy was, the gesture matched the movement.  They were good.  There were hundreds.  They were as good as anything.  Let me try to explain; I would think they were good if someone else had made them, if I saw them in a museum in Europe I would think they were good,  I would say:  I saw this great show of drawings at the Pompidou.  I was in Venice, and the biennale had this amazing exhibit of figure drawings.  


But, let's remember that I made them, and so I am not really qualified to say whether they are good or bad.  Well, actually, no one will object if I say they are bad, but the point still stands.  We cannot really feel sure of the quality or merit of what we have done.  There are better ones, yes; and there are worse ones.  So, where are we?  Good or Bad?  I think we need a new way to end the sentence, the project.  It cannot be money or validation from the Institution, so what could it be, this thing that confers satisfaction?

Also, let's not forget the Famous Artist Instructor* asked to have some of my drawings, because they were that good. I gave them, of course, and within two years I had forgotten I had even been complimented in this way.  So, it doesn't last, that's sure.  It doesn't carry you like a raft over the rough seas.  The other thing I see, now, is that I was A Good Student.  Which means, as you already know, that I followed directions accurately and carefully.  Which, well, may not be anything to celebrate, either.  It might be Bad, even.  But if it were Good, that would not be that great either.

Does this kind of circular stuff make your head hurt?  Or does it let you see that yes, the circle just repeats, and maybe you don't want that anymore, either?

* The thing to note here, is that the Famous Artist Instructor was selling their work, in several high profile galleries, and also, working a full time teaching gig.  This was the late '80s, early '90s, so it should have been the (late and ending) good old days for making a living as an artist, but they were also pulling a 9 to 5 teaching, which suggests that even Famous Artist is not as lucrative as we might all have hoped.

PS  Do, please, take a peek at the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Nineteen Hundred


Dear Skaters,

That's a lot of hundreds, isn't it?  What'll we do to celebrate?  Read about the amazing Rollercade car, watch this great tutorial, maybe admire these star toe stops, and go roller skating; how about here


There are more outsized roller skates than you think!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

compassion: a harsh mistress


Die Mütter, woodcut, Käthe Kollwitz, 1921-22.

Dear Traveler Through Time On the Head of a Pin,

Have you ever written someone off so completely, at the individual cellular level; like, this person is irredeemable, wasn't worth the oxygen they used, and nothing that ever came from, circulated around them, could have been anything but negativity, only to discover in the tiniest artifact, the smallest gesture, a softening in your self?  Just their red pen writing on the outside of the manilla folder melts your icy battlements?  You suddenly feel:  Oh!  They really do have some qualities, and the whole of my relationship with them has not been just ashes after all!

Well, the feeling passes of course, but my point (if I have one), is that the softening might not be the part of compassion that we are supposed to be aiming for- it might be, it might be that the message is: maybe you don't need to build such a complete wall, such a total severing.

Hear me out, I know why I built it.  It's like the Post-It note you stick on the phone that says "NO!"  It is meant to protect yourself from annoyance and pain, from making the same old mistakes.  So, you build this big edifice out of solid bricks of rationalization, and then the tiniest, slimmest little memory, little piffling thought seeps right through, tunnels right under, and there you are, having lunch again with someone you said you'd 'never' spend time with again.

What might be better, I ask myself?  I think the tremendous effort of being compassionate- which, for the sake of this conversation, will be defined* as 'putting the feelings of others before yours'- is a pretty large burden.  Maybe this is the problem right here, compassion as I have defined it, is asking too much sometimes.  Where is the self?  Selflessness is all very well, but, evaporating into the yielding ether does not always work for me.

 Maybe, and this is completely different project, these letters/blog should be renamed, re-branded (?), "Have You Ever?"  Let it be part of your song for today.

*  A dictionary definition.  An expansive, etymological definition.  A source for more reading on the topic.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

moody & stumbling


Pies, Pies, Pies, 1961, oil on canvas, Wayne Thiebaud, 

Dear Radio Dodo Listeners,

Here is a fine song for today.  A song that never convinces you it has begun, never settles into its groove; and when it ends, you feel a little empty, because you wanted a little more.  It's right up my alley, and yours, too!


House of Pies is a place you can go, too.  Also, to this House of Pies.  Why House of Pies?  Because House of Pancakes.  One can start to imagine others... House of Pizza, House of Pita, House of Porridge, House of Pears, House of Peas, House of Pineapple, House of Parsnip.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Growing or getting?


Robert Ryman, Untitled, 1965.

Dear Sensates,

I seem to be becoming more sensitive; I mention it because it seems odd; people growing old and older around me keep telling me they don't care about this or that anymore, or have become inured to the horror of daily news, or that they know you 'can't do anything for anyone.'  Contrariwise, I seem to be metamorphosing into the hypersensitive opposite.  It started with movies, a long time ago:  I found that sitting in the dark with giant moving images was too manipulative; I felt scared, small, helpless, and I didn't like spending two hours pressed down by those feelings.  I avoided all the most horrible films, but still sometimes I found find myself noiselessy chanting 'it's okay, it's okay, it's just a movie' while putting the rest of my corpuscles into overdrive to shut out the barrage of noise and image.  I would call this a panic attack, if I didn't think that we have a tendency to insist that our emotional reactions should be contained and controlled.

Now it happens to me with television, and smaller screens, at home, in the safety and light of all that housing and soft furnishings connote.  

One time my Mother had on one of her endless "old movies" from The Old Movie Channel; it was about the tragedy of the Hindenburg; I could not believe she could be in the room watching all the actors fall and burn up above the airfield.  When I was 11, I saw The Poseidon Adventure on TV and I felt like I was trapped and drowning every night for what seemed like 10 years.

It's not just moving pictures, either; it is happening to me with books- I am reading, then some how startled into the present by an external sound- shattering all the fabricated tension of the book and it's spaces.  I feel like I am waking from a bad dream, or suddenly pulled out of a lengthy funeral service; a dim space with little air and smoky, choking incense.  I now have to avoid books* that consume my emotions too much, that have me feeling raw and exposed for weeks.

With even my skin; there is a patch on my shin that has phantom feelings.  There is nothing there, the doctor, the dermatologist have reassured me.  It feels like brushing very gently into a cactus for a minute or two, and then it is gone until later.

The nuances of taste seem heightened to me too; but I know (don't I?) how powerful the imagination is, and so I must be imaging that this cheese tastes of the smell of the grocery store.  Or that the coffee drink is just possibly a hair fermented?  Or that the lettuce tastes like the rubbery plastic it is wrapped in?  It's not all negative associations; the raw cabbage is a little sweet, like carrots.  The cake tastes faintly of dusty trail trodden pine needles.

I think, maybe, that all this claiming to be less affected might not be true.  Maybe we just tell ourselves we feel less.  Maybe that is easier than feeling ever more, and knowing there is less and less we can do about it, as we get, or grow, old.

*  Were we on Htrae, I would give you this list of books to avoid, but, we all know that would be like a dish of candy that no one could keep themselves from trying just one piece, and then, all my vain attempts to keep you safe from harm would be useless; as they probably are.  See:  The Croquet Player, H. G. Wells.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

a path


Illustration by Gustave Doré.

Dear Reader,

I hope you know that I want the best for you; I hope you know that I care that you see long and far and for ever, because I want to see that way too.

It might be that you find that seeing so far leaves you wondering what you have done.  It's not a problem, that was then, it is always a mulligan, a do-over.  So do-over endlessly; there is no penalty.

Here is an essay saying a lot of things that I think are the best; that I think you should know, the better to see long and far and for ever.

And now, let's go again to Grandmother's house, and see what can be done with the Wolf and The Woodcutter.  We can whistle this tune, while we walk.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

who feels it knows it


Dear Ghosts,

Maybe this is it, anyway:

slips, wisps,



who feels it knows it.

Glints.  These things make up the now, perhaps.

She says:  Relationship.

I think:  Acting on impulse?

I wonder:  Filtering?  Can we even pretend to?

Is this the now, the infinitely small sub-particles that could make the present?


Let's feel it again.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Watching Nothing.


Dear Cleaning Ladies (and Gentlemen),

I was cleaning today.  Y'all know I do not like cleaning, because it is never done, and it is never done well enough, and I do not like the world's gender fueled expectations of me to be a 'cleaner.'  

But, because someone is coming, and I want to sit leisurely paying attention to The Guest, and not to hear the following from my constantly babbling interior monologue voice (which should probably have a name; perhaps Hank?): "they are seeing the muddy paw prints, the myriad spider webs, the velvety dust, and the stains on the carpet and table" while we talk.

Another reason Hank and I fret over mess, is that people are not that comfortable in disarray- they feel like they should 'do' something; I don't like being around people who are antsy like that, even when the person is me (or, especially when the person is me, or Hank).

Conversely, and Hank might just be surprised to hear this, I have used these expectations as self-defense:  "What are you doing?" the world keeps asking, and I know I must answer that I am contributing to well being and my community:  I say, "Oh, you know, cleaning up some stuff- it's never ending!"  This often sounds a bit too cheerful, and I worry people will know I am fibbing.

What am I really doing?  Research, in my lab (I am doing it now).  How do I do it?  It involves a LOT of not-doing; and a lot of circular actions, and gazing.  Also, what you might call thinking, but of course, I do a lot of thinking when I am actually cleaning, too, so I am not sure that the 'thinking' counts.  It looks like me, in bed until noon.  It looks like me, partially dressed, poking through my books and notes.   It looks like me typing on the computer, writing to you here, and also sorting.  Sorting looks like me searching websites, or pages of on-sale shoes; rifling through my collection of hankies and taking some out to be given back to the thrift store.  Recompiling months of to do lists in yet another 'master list.'  

Research looks like sitting on the porch watching nothing/everything.  It looks a lot like living, except it is much more engaging, vital, and important.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Writer, indeed!


Untitled (Never Perfect Enough), Barbara Kruger, 2020.

Dear Writers,

Another little incident around the extended family table, another little day of hashing out what the hell all that could have meant.  

One thing I know, is that I was offended at the notion of not being noticed as a writer.  What, is there a minimum page requirement?  Psh.  Are people using words without a publisher exempt from this action, then, of putting down words on to a screen or page?  These ones are 'not-writers?'  Psh.

I guess what I am saying here, and I invite you to rise up with me and claim your place as a writer, is that I WRITE, therefore, I AM (A) WRITER.


I know, it's pretty forceful, but, I am pretty sure that I have already pleaded with, permitted you, to claim your place as artist, and I believe that the saying it is what makes it true, not anything else really.  Let me try to give you an example...  How many words in a language constitute knowing how to speak it?  How many times do you need to pedal around your block before you are a bicycle rider?  How many hours do you need to play guitar to be a musician?  Of course I am aware of the fine points, of the tens of hours a week practicing, of the notion of some-  I know some Spanish, un poquito.  I play a few chords.  Et cetera.  If it makes you feel more confident, you can add the some:  I am a sometimes artist.  I do some writing.  I can live with that; but I cannot live with arbitrary gate-making and -keeping, or the false notion that unless you make money at it, you are not it.  The difference between you singing in your car and the singer in the band is that you are not in a band currently.  Period.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

summer goals


Dear Season of Now Shortening Days,

Here is what I have done for you:  a beach picnic, a movie, and lemon bars.  Yes, I do have more planned:  a night camping at the shore, and a trip to a roller rink.  I would feel better about six items, but, I would dearly love to earn my 2023 Summer Fun badge:  if I were to read a novel would we have a deal?

Anxiously awaiting your answer.

Sunday, June 18, 2023


Dear Dads of the World, Past & Present,

Here is a trio of beautiful sentiments for you, today.  May you walk in natural piety always.

Buffalo Springfield   I Am a Child

Wm. Wordsworth   My Heart Leaps Up

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Three things to do.


Dear Yarn,

Hey, did you know about this place?  It's a roadside museum of crochet!  Here are three actionable items to takeaway from this post:

1.  Crochet something, anything.  I made a crocheted fried egg once, and it was mighty satisfying!

2.  Visit this very charming pequeño museo.

3.  Open a roadside museum of your own.  For inspiration, see The Moffat Museum.