Sunday, December 31, 2023

Old Year's Day.


 Selene Santucci.

Dear Time,

What a drag you can be, with your damn thresholds between the day and the night, the month, the year.  I am tired of you, even as I try to mark and honor you.  Well, what have you done for me, eh?  Yes, let's not and say we did, this New Year's.  There's not enough champagne in the world to make it a party anyway.

I think, what I will say, in truth, and with a minimum of resentment, is so long, it's been good to know you.

I learned everything I know about saying The Long Goodbye from singers and songwriters.  You can learn it too, in easy, online lessons.  Here are your course materials for Goodbye 101.













Thursday, December 28, 2023

think about direction


Dear World,

It's time, I think, the time that I said would come, when the string of pearls first broke.  The time I said would be looked back on, would be seen from a far distance forwards, but looking back.  (Stand in the place where you are).  

What is here, now?  I feel it, the presence of the huge impact of the Pandemic, but, I look around, standing in the place where I live, and I see that we don't talk about it.  (We have turned away?)  The emptiness, the slowness, the worry and the fear, the honesty.  I don't think they have exactly gone away.  I think they may be there, here, like huge thundercloud ghosts, ready, (raw, open, bleeding) to break open on some little party, some small hope.

I proceed now, cautiously.  Not only because of fear, that's the thing I wanted to tell you:  It's also because I liked the pure sharp edges of those days.  The rarefied air of loss and longing was like the thin atmosphere of a high peak- like, a smallness within a bigness, like an exposure to the elements and suffering and hope, too, that was so immediate.  It was just so much 'less' of everything.  

I believe that is why I have wanted to empty my living spaces; cupboards, drawers, closets, boxes, chests.  I want some empty space made for that high-pitched purity of purpose.  Very little of "You Should" crossed my mind then.  It was a vacation away from You Should, I think, because You Couldn't and maybe that is what I miss.

Monday, December 18, 2023

all that


Jason Moran on Broadway Boogie Woogie, by Piet Mondrian.

Dear Listeners,

I have been wanting to talk to you about jazz.  As in music.  I don't know about jazz, but I know what I like, and it often isn't jazz.  But, that isn't talking about jazz at all.  What I wanted to write you about is about what I do like about jazz.  Trying to keep to the parts I like is really what the Dodo is all about.

Here are three, really stellar jazz songs that I love:  

La Llorona, Charles Lloyd and the Marvels

Pedal Up, Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Waltz for Hal Willner, Bill Frisell

Great, you say, but, let's have some detail, some specificity, some something!  Why do I like these three jazz songs?  It came to me when listening to a jazz recording like this one; what I love about jazz is the moment, the light, the flash of recognition, and the perquisite ambiguity.  It comes out of a (clear blue) fog: Aha!  I know this!

It can be more indistinct even than that; it's the recognition of something, some note, some strain, of familiarity.  A memory, a shape, a ghost, a form, a dried leaf skeleton.  That's what I like about jazz music, the shadows and wisps.


If you are like me, it might be a little tricky to love these songs on the first listen.  Maybe come back to them again, a second and third time, and see if they don't grow on you a little.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

food talk


Still Life with Fruits and VegetablesJuan Sánchez Cotán, circa 1600.

Dear Kitchen,

Maybe you could make a little space, about a foot by a foot, to hold, without too much splatter, a screen, to show this.  You know, while we are chopping and peeling?  Or cracking and toasting.  Or stirring and simmering.  

Think about it, and while you do, there is this, from Valerie Gordon, and she gives, some ways down, a recipe for a carrot dish that might affect you deeply.  It did me; and I kind of (and I hate to admit this) repudiate the poor pretty carrot.

Ah, yes, and you should also know, that Three Ingredients came to me from Cherry Bombe; a limitless source of screenable treats.

Lastly, your song for today is also Valerie.

Monday, December 11, 2023

a little blue, for you


First Woman on the Moon, Aleksandra Mir, 1999.

Dear Moon & Sorrows,

Come on over!  We are having a party, and you are invited, dear sorrows!  I got this idea to throw you a party from Ross Gay- he's loaded with great ideas.  I thought we'd play some sad songs, like this beautiful one, right here; it's your song for today.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Your holiday shopping list!

Dear Season of Gift Giving,

The first step in acknowledging people successfully with material goods, is to figure out who needs a gift.  

I've got your recipient right here;  I have your gift, too.  You go to the bookshop, or your bookshelf, and you get yourself a book... which you love, it must be one you love, and then you give it to a young person.

The future, kid, is kids. 

PS  About the wrapping; better read about this study, and check out this, too.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Tint, and roses and falling (and he fell).


Dear Inchoate,

Sharp definition shadows, above the valley's bowl of fog.  I catch my breath each time, then descend into the shadowless mist, the damp, under the quiet wholeness.

I have words.
I crossed out the hard, sharp poem.

The poem, the words, the story, of being, of Cleopatra, of waiting,
in museums, behind large urns, waiting to trap you.  To consume you.  To destroy you.

There was an exhilarating rush of sliding down sheet ice- it was fun, while it lasted.  But,
at the bottom of the mountain, after all the speed and the money was gone; I did not rail any longer.
I did not care to eat you up.
I did not need to hear these things.

I went home; drew a field of flowers.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Two Thousand.


Dear Celebrants,

Here it is, Day 2,000!  I skated away, I skated in, I skated out, I skated with Covid, I skated at home, and now these days have accumulated into a biggish pile of 2,000!  

These last 100 days I have spent pretty much working exclusively on trying to do this; a thing that is inexplicably called a 'manual.'  I could use another hundred days working on it, but, I am here to report that if you spend a small amount of time on a thing everyday for 100 days, you can get better at it!  

Let's have some pie to celebrate!  

Bonus track.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023



Dear Others,

I fell into a space, a largeish one, filled with unimaginable sadness.  I thought I might have read it in the calligraphy of clouds, which is very readable this time of year, even in the shorter daylight, or maybe because of it.  It holds, this time, for sure, the coming gloom, the chill, the end of at least the year, and maybe many other things that we daren't consider.  But, as I said, the clouds might give us the message even while we bustle around trying to avoid it.

Maybe sadness isn't the word, isn't the place.  Maybe the place is pathos.  Or my favorite, abject melancholia.  To be sure, I was reading about a case of the AMs.  An author that is now dead and gone.  

Now another thing I read or heard, Laurie Anderson saying that we must not be sad, only feel sad.  It was a distinction I hadn't kenned before, and sometimes I still don't.  She said, I think, that it was a tenet of Buddhism.  Or perhaps I imagined that she said it and I read it in the clouds?

I try to maintain these two separately; the feeling and the being, I really do, but the gaping hugeness of what I think must be everyone's sadness, is sometimes unavoidable. If you are like, or like I have been, you will micro analyze your blue snit, your dark brow, until you fear actual madness.  What we are supposed to do, say the sages, is to make space even for this, this yawning horror, to feel it, not to scrutinize it silly.  

Ah but, you still may try to; you are clever, you are smart, you will outfox this feeling.  You might, perhaps, suffer from anhedonia; a word I am obsessed with since I read it a few years ago.  Anhedonia, anhedonia, my country 'tis of thee!  If you Google it, chances are you will see that you have it too.  

But again, you are smart; you know, because of your monkey cleverness, that people don't really respond to your work, to that which is your messy self, they just like the outward you; and of course they do, because you are endlessly seeing to their comfort, feeling for them, telling them what you'd like to hear:  you are fine, you are well, you are acceptable by every metric!  You are good.

Sticky wickets all around.  Try out this concept:  Beautiful Mess Effect.

It's a balm, for certain, but, it doesn't take away the cavern of sorrows.  It's like a missing limb, you learn to live with, next door to, around, the cavern, I guess.  Because of our really serious case of anhedonia.  Because of the calligraphy of the clouds.  Because of the light.  Because of time.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Culture Consumer Princess


Dear Quiz Takers,

Or, is that Quizzlings?  Quizzettes?  Crepes Quizettes?  In any case, discover who you are by taking this handy Culture Consumer Princess Quiz!  Brought to you, free of charge, by the good folks at the Dodo!

The Smiths or The Cure?

Raspberry Ripple or Black Cherry?

Flannel or T Shirt?

Money or Love?   

If you answered an even mix of first and second choices you are: Princess DoubleCherryBerry!

If you answered all seconds, you are:  Princess CherryHeart!

If you answered all firsts, you are:  Princess GoldBerry!

If you answered another princess quiz entirely, you are:  Princess InAnotherCastle!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

long felt want


Untitled (Banjo Player and Dancing Woman), 1920's, e. e. cummings.

Dear Beloved Reader,

I have been treasuring this little trio of words for about a year now; long felt want.  Let's look at them this way:




So much of it is the sound, things that poets and academics would know what to call- vowel sounds, meters, stressed syllables, a bunch of stuff we don't need to discuss.  Except, and this is a big exception, if it helps us to love this phrase more deeply.  In that case, have at it, English Majors, Creative Writing Folks, Scholars of all kinds.

I have been waiting, I suppose, for the moment to be right to bring it to you, but that's not quite it either.  I have been waiting to tell you about it through the lens of Another Thing.  A Like Thing.  I often want to bundle the greatness into a larger package; to send you not one great thing, but two, or even three or more.

So, I wait for Another Thing.  Sometimes it is a long wait.

I have been working on some projects that are kind of odd, they kind of don't have beginnings, or even ends.  The projects are for the long time- do a little one day, then leave it for a week or so.  That kind of pace.  The project I will begin soon is changing my address book.  I have sewn a new cover for a new book, and it is time to transfer in all the names and locations of the people that are not dead (physically or metaphorically- it was a tough couple of years, mind you; many old acquaintances and objects have moved from the category of Why Do I Still Have This to I Threw That Out.  Don't worry, not your name, of course!).* 

This project (and others like it: example: painting the closet doors a new color) are Long Felt Wants.  I do worry a little, because, well, I think I might be lonely if I never worried at all, that the Want may not end when the projects do.  

As usual, I am telling you all this, so that I can figure out what I might mean by all of it.  Have I told you lately how much you mean to me?  I thought not.  Please try to remember it!

But, back to the phrase.  I lifted it from e. e. cummings' book The Enormous Room.  I am trying not to read old white men, as you know, but this book and perhaps all of e. e. cummings' work shall have to be an exception- let us think of  him/them as an honorary non-white brown/black non-binary kind of a they author, because, ooh, it's a book recording a great beauty and love for humans.

* Don't you just love that we can put !). down like that and no one to correct us??  Writing is the best, just like painting or drawing, because we are always building another world to reign as Queen in.

Monday, November 13, 2023

what is it made of?


Dear Everyone Occupying Space at This Moment,

Are objects made of poetry?  Without doubt.  What else is inside a thing?  What other potentiality could there be?  What would there be that will not rust, combust, or decompose?  If you counter they are made of atoms, I say; there is your proof!  Little things we cannot see, tiny theoretical impulses are poetry itself!

Here is a poem on some small, un-identified cut brass chips that came to me.

You gave me tiny shiny squares of golden light.
I sent you back a sewn order of gold.
I had to cheat, too, with glue, but I'll never tell.

And they were so crooked and poorly aligned; Agnes Martin
would have died again, even as I thought of her when I arranged them in their

that's life grid.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

you know him


X-Ray of Peach in Dish, 1973, William Wegman.

Dear Shutterbugs,

Today I'd like to sing the praises of Wm. Wegman.  You know him, of course, as the photographer of dogs; luscious, velvety & lustrous skinned Weimaraners; they are funny, they are cute.  No one is saying they aren't.  However, however, however, there is more to this photographer.  Take these hilarious photographs; funny, smart, all about ideas and absences.  While you are on his site, check out his work on paper, and his interesting mixed media paintings.

I have had the tab to his website open on my computer for over a year now; mostly because I was not sure what I wanted to say to you about these works; and I am still not overflowing with words; but, but, but, I want you to see them, and that seems like it might be more important than waiting for me to come up with 'le bon mot,' le mot juste.'

My enthusiasm for these photographs circles around austere atmosphere and elation about ideas; may you also find frisson in viewing them!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Squonk


Dear All Hallows,

Here at the Dodo, we read this swell book, a bestiary, and this, this beautiful creature was under 'S,' the Squonk.  I have painted you a picture of it, all dissolvens in state.  I plan to search for Squonks now, everywhere I go.  I have certainly heard them many a time, and seen the puddle of tears they became.

If you aren't of a mind to hunt the Squonk, you might be in the mood to paint one, or, perhaps even, discover (invent) a new beast, or even, write a personal bestiary of your own.

And if none of that sounds remotely appealing, odds are, you'll be able to find a piece of chocolate someplace today, and good hunting!


We got our Book of Imaginary Beings at the wonderful Henry Miller Library.  I hope you will get a chance to visit it one day; it is one of my favorite places.

Friday, October 27, 2023

becomes crimson


Untitled, Mary Vaux Walcott, 1872, in the collection of the Smithsonian.

Dear Turning,

Oh!  This is a treat!  Deep fried leaves!  Can you deny the fabulousness of a planet with inhabitants who would invent such a thing!?  I remain, impressed, and on-world, as ever!  May your Autumn be packed with treats!

Friday, October 20, 2023

the end of a week


Dear Darlings,

This week, I have been at work.  What work is, well, that is a question of serious thought here at the Dodo.  Work, at least for now, shall be defined as anything, any time, that is given to another to satisfy their expectations.  Let's unpack this notion further!

A definition for work.  Let's say you made a date to meet a person for a meeting to discuss childcare or your living trust.  That, is work.  The other fellow is getting paid for that meeting, and you may not be, but either way, pay or not, that is work.  You leave the meeting, and you don't have any other engagements for the day.  A friend says, shall we get a coffee, walk in the park, go bowling?  These three could be play.  But, they might be work, too.  The getting a coffee would be work if you wanted to go home and read a book, but you said, okay to the coffee, because you felt your relationship with coffee asking person needed it.  Like a plant, maybe you felt this relationship begin to wilt, so you agree to water it, even when you are thinking you are sad to miss your favorite on air dj while you get this coffee and water this relationship.  That, is work.

If you get up in the morning and the day is all yours, you have a shot at play.  In this definition, play is that which no one else expects of you.  You read a book, you wash the sink, you file your taxes, knit a hat, and you make a drawing.  All play, but ONLY if no one needs you to wash the sink or get the taxes done that day.  The term 'no one' here has to include yourself.  See how hard it is to play, and how easy it is to work?  It's going to take some discipline (travail, peut-être?) to play under these definitions.  

Moreover, or more than that, or more than this, notice how time is a big part of the distinguishing factor between play and work.  If it is needed at a certain time, it will probably end up being work (eg: the filing of taxes).  But this can be usurped by doing a task (work; yes or no?) when it is not needed.  When no one is waiting for it, or expecting it.

Sharp readers are now thinking, 'huh, sounds like I barely play at all!'  Well, that is surely true for me, so it is probably true for you, too.  We get now to a phrase I like, 'serving at will.'  This also can modify time from work to play.  Here is an example:  I make a pie to give to someone.  They are not expecting a pie, I made no pie(crust) promises.  Pie making, in this instance is play.

Play is a pretty shy animal, it spooks at the slightest whiff of need or duty.  Consider this: Fun or work?  Recording it might have made it work.

Ah, but what was I telling you, anyway?  Yes, I am at work this week, and so, I am writing to you from the past, from a time when writing to you was neither needed nor expected, and so, I am at play now, but when you read this, I will be at work.  It is nearly the end of my work week, and I feel like a little dance party, to celebrate.  See you next week, when I will be doing my best to be back at play for the remainder of the year!

Bring On the Dancing Horses



All the Pretty Horses