Reader Mail

My street is a dead-end, cut off by the highway on-ramp, but the sidewalk part of the street that got cut off is still there. It still connects to the edge of the gas station, where the street would've come out, where the on-ramp is now. There's not a lot of cars on the street, most of the traffic is people on foot cutting through to the drug store, or the bus stop, or down towards Olneyville, or up to the beer store. I'm on the third floor with the window open, so I hear a little bits of conversation all the time, rarely a detail but enough to get the vibe. How many third floor windows heard bits of my idiotic conversations as I walked around talking to someone about some nonsense? Well, you gotta give to get.

Last week I was looking out the kitchen window and saw a guy running, and he had that kind of a run that's not really an exercise run. Later I saw him walking back in the other direction, seemed like he missed his bus. But then the next day I saw him and it was the same thing, running down, walking back. I was like come on man get it together. But then the day after that he was back and I took a real good look, and not only did he run down the street and walk back but he did it over and over again, multiple reps of running and walking back! And what I thought was an ipod that he held preciously while the earbuds dangled, was in fact a white plastic rosary! Was he doing penance for something? Does the church make you do laps???? Or was he just doing a regular exercise and using the rosary to keep track of how many reps he's done? It seemed too personal to ask but anyway, sick style.

I guess I have a similar thing, or like a secular version-- Lately I've been trying to toughen up a little more by doing a blast of cold water at the end of a shower, or just cold from start to finish. I have a song I sing to time it. The cold shower thing is something I've done and off for years, having read somewhere that 2 minutes of cold water is good for depression. We used to call it "the Power Shower", for positive branding reasons. Now in addition to the perfectly good antidepresso reason, I've been doing it just to have a little more casual practice doing things I dread. Does that make sense? The more times I willfully twist the knob to pure cold, the less I find myself hesitating in other tasks. It's like I'm practicing overriding the comfort addict. In that regard I guess it's half exercise half penance. I think it's working, tho... after I do it I find it's easier to jump into other habits I've been struggling to adopt. As the old Sumerian proverb goes, "act promptly, make your god happy". Oh right and the song I sing is "Stardust". It's a great song, sort of a langorous belter, good for bathroom acoustics.

In other benchmark news, World Snake Day is coming up yet againe, this Thursday. I love World Snake Day because I love snakes, I love the world (Earth), and I love the day-- to lay it bare, it's the same day as my birthday, July 16. I'm not going to say how old I'm turning but it's a prime number, which I consider auspicious. My plan is to eat a lemon cake.

Reader Mail

As a small birthday present to myself, I'm opening the mailbag and rolling around in it. Everybody keep sending notes, it's like the only reason to keep doing it other than "I guess I'll just keep doing it", which is honestly still numero uno :)

Small Flowers / Blinking Lights

I really liked this weeks reflection on the way small flowers pass by our vision without reflection... I wonder if the little flower on the front page of your website is one such flower....

It reminds me of this thing that Georgia O'Keefe wrote in a catalog of one of her early shows...

"A flower is relatively small. Everyone has many associations with a flower — the idea of flowers. You put out your hand to touch the flower — lean forward to smell it — maybe touch it with your lips almost without thinking — or give it to someone to please them. Still — in a way — nobody sees a flower — really — it is so small — we haven’t time — and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small.

So I said to myself — I’ll paint what I see — what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it — I will make even busy New-Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.

Well — I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower — and I don’t."

- Joshua H

Thank you! after reading this Georgia O quote I made it so you can zoom way in on the flower and it fills the screen. But then I found that the effect was too disorienting so I changed it back. Now it's not a gateway to another world, or not especially so, it's a flower again. Oh, but I did make it so you can pick the flower and carry it around, just like Isao. :) Sorry this won't work on a phone or tablet.

Diary Notes

I would love to watch the Tora-san series.

Great getting all linked up with you a few weeks ago.

- Cousin Joe

I don't know why I have a linked in account but after years of thinking that it's the worst social media site on the planet (and still thinking that) I find myself sort of obsessed with it. I love logging on and seeing what everyone says their job is! it's like a neopets feeling.

I sent the link to the Tora san movies in a private message, I don't know why I can't just post the link but it seems wrong. I feel like everyone uses a few of these confusing grey market flash streaming movie websites and no one ever shares the link because they don't want their spot to blow up. I'm everyone.

Orange White

re: Orange White "love of 3 oranges" piece

if you're specifying amp brand, why not Orange?

Loved the show!

- Lance

ahhhh great question Lance. I think I gotta go with Peavy because that symbolizes "American Shit Noise" to me. That said I just added a new page--

image image

Orange White

This reminds me of Yoshitoshi's 100 Aspects of the Moon but maybe even better because some entries are snacks.

- Flannery
I really appreciate that Flan! It blows my mind when I roll up to an arts function and there's no snacks. Brian C had an art show a few years ago and there was beer but NO SNACKS, I was like, actually mad (at the gallery, not Brynocki). First of all, it's morally reprehensible to have beer but no snacks, anywhere, and second of all, don't you want to put people at ease? What are you, trying to keep costs down? When I had my last art show I had chips, beer, non-alcs, pretzels, candy, AND my mom brought Russian tea cakes COVERED in powdered sugar! Snacks are what separate "a show" from "an event".

Damn I miss shows and gatherings, and a nice spread of finger food... Here's my top snacks at shows, from memory:

Orange White

Really dig Kelley piece. At risk of being rude it is “Kelly”.

- Frankie

Ah! Noted and changed. I'd rather be corrected than be wrong!

Orange White

Hey this is a great show! I found myself daydreaming about leading tours or bringing a class through it, & what a group might make in a studio afterwards. Crayon embedded in eraser was the biggest off-the-bat brainbender for me, I think just in its materials, but it feels like the one I’d take a quick little jog back to before I could leave the room.

PS Crab-like/dog-like really resonated w me - one summer when I was writing descriptions the audio tour included a stop that compared 7 or 8 colonial chairs to demonstrate regional style differences, which made my job "somehow meaningfully describe the minor variations in these guys' paws without being overly technical." Having the wiggle room to invoke more personality would have helped.

PPS I wrote descriptions for Quilts & Color, too; I love that show & if I remember right the catalog is really good!

- A Reid

Hi Ali, thanks for coming! I didn't think about the education perspective, but yeah I could see this being the start of many a nice morning class-- walk through the museum then everybody do 5 riffs on a painting and list what phone calls you'd make to have them manufactured. :)

I have a few of these exhaustive riff notebooks, though few are literally notebooks- in each case there are some that are obvious, some that are clever, and some that just bleed through the wall from an X dimension, those are the best ones but you have to run and write them down immediately or they drift away. Crayon in eraser was dimension X all the way.

About the feet, my dad was an interior decorator and I remember talking with him about furniture paws once, like why doesn't all our furniture have cool little feet? He was like yeah I know and I was like, if we agree then what's the problem here. See also "pizza night is the best night".

(I know this isn't exactly what we're talking about but I just paused this letter to look up claw feet "just the feet" on ebay-- they aren't as much as I thought but they're still out of budget)

I loved that quilt show, I took notes and I think about it all the time. Was it 2015 or 2014? My notes say 2015 but the website says 2014. Is it possible it was held over? Or called back? Was it at the MFA and got moved to the ICA or did I just botch the notes? Also just realized that transcribing my notes from this led to a rubber stamp obsession that continues to this day!

"Boob Idea In Lightning" copyright whoever, 1910

Links / Misc

Ok thanks for indulging me in this letter column, I promise not to do this all the time. If you want to drop me a line just send an email or hit the contact page: [link]. And if you want to subscribe to these posts by email, you can do so on the substack-- [link].
other posts you may enjoy (chosen at random) :
Left Foot Ashtray
Lemon Bag
Tainted Alligator Soufflé