Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wheaton Gothic

The strange place.
“Memory is insubstantial,” says Annie Dillard.  “Things keep replacing it.”  OK: what disappears, we replace.  Like many thoughtful observations about writing, Dillard's is also a thoughtful observation about living.  I've had her statement in mind as I've been thinking about a couple that, when I was 11 or so, moved into a house on Arcola Avenue around the corner from my family's.  They were "Bohemian."  I knew this because they wore mostly black, had longish hair, and were childless.  This was the mid-1970s, and they felt different to me, quietly strange.  Their house was a mock-Tudor — and this already marked them as odd, as the ones who live in that weird-looking European house, the faux-Gothic (we didn't know that word), dark place so different from Ours.

This couple was, I'm sure, harmless.  What grievous sin they did commit was in letting their front yard go to seed.  Grass grew wild, waist-high.  Shrubs, untrimmed, reached for ungainly heights.  The front walk was crowded over with weeds.  The house itself grew foreboding, darker somehow (maybe I'm only recalling the house during fall and winter months), and even stranger, and walking past on my way to the public library I sensed a (pre-language) sadness about the place, as if something was going wrong inside.  The wildness of the front lawn seemed riotously unsafe and glaring, an unseemly Yes to chaos and disorder — all of this intuited strangely by me, and obviously only half-comprehended.  I kind of loved and feared the place.  I remember my parents and their friends whispering behind their hands about the couple and their atrocious yard work.  I never saw the two anywhere, ever; but for the few times I glimpsed them out front or coming in and out, they seemed to me to exist permanently on the inside.  

Photo of Levvittown via The Art Of Manliness. 

Wheaton, Maryland was named after Frank Wheaton, an officer in the U.S. Army who rose to the rank of major-general during the Civil War era.  The region, 10 or so miles north of Washington D.C. line, bloomed in the mid-Twentieth century.  The neighborhood where I was raised consisted primarily of small red-brick single family "starter" homes and newer, somewhat larger split-level houses, like ours on Amherst Avenue.  Our friendly suburbia was not manically self-governed — no home owners were fined if their grass grew over a certain height or if their county-strip was too wide or too narrow — but there was an aesthetic uniformity, not unpleasing.  I don't know where this couple's mock-Tudor house came from.  It seemed to spring from some planner's anomalous imagination, a home dropped in the middle of relative homogeny that called attention to itself in gloomy, unhappy ways.  The couple eventually moved out and on, and new owners bought the house.  The front yard was tidied up and, as it were, brought to code.


I keep thinking of Dillard.  What things have I replaced?  Were I to compare a photograph of this house circa the mid-1970s to the house I see in memory, I wonder would the contours line up.  I'm afraid that I've over-dramatized the yard's mess, the couple's outsiderness, the neighborhood gossip.  The home and the nearly-faceless, mythic couple who lived there have been sifted through my imagination for so long that those images and narratives are certain, permanent truths to me now.  And if a photo document of the house — and of course it's coming, sometime, online — conspires against those truths then I'll throw up my hands yet again.  Got me again, verifiable facts.  I still don't believe you.

I've been rereading Jeffrey Eugendies' The Virgin Suicides, a novel that affected me profoundly.  The twenty-year gap between the tragic events in the Lisbon household and the confounding relaying of those events by the collective narrator spills over with grief, mystery, and memory's lame housing of both.  Eugenides said in an interview that if he could be any emotion it would be longing, and longing touches every page of this novel, dampening it.  What troubles the narrators along with the Lisbon girls' bizarre rejection of the world is the narrators' own inability to rub off the tattoo of unknowing.  What to do with unanswerable questions?  Keep asking, searching, in the narrarators' cases with an obsessed, fetishistic investigative process that spans decades and proves fruitless.  

"We haven't kept our tomb sufficiently airtight, and our sacred objects are perishing," the narrators lament near the end of the novel.  They'd attempted, half-successfully, to demystify the Lisbon girls, as Eugenides successfully defamiliarized the suburbs.  I wonder about that strange home around corner from mine, its perishing details that year by year I replace with contents (and content) that I may have well, in part, created, loved, needed in a weird way, manufactured for my own story of growing up in a suburb and its strange pulsing I tuned into.

Friday, October 29, 2010

An Origin Story

There was probably the cliché of the open notebook on a desk, James Dean on the wall, siblings in the hall, half-there, half-invisible, I’d look out my bedroom window at dusk and see half-world, half-me, before I learned the term rack-focus, the world, back to me, the world, back to me, below, kids walked to homes I’d never see, though I’d awfully imagine, in my head, or from a passing car, Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police" was playing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Origin Story

School started again in the fall, my tan faded, I trudged into Saint Andrew The Apostle with scissors, Elmer’s glue, a pencil case, and brand new textbooks with pages that were blurry yet vivid to the touch, I looked down at my feet, they were there and they weren't, in my head, or from a passing car, 10cc's "The Things We Do For Love" was playing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Apple Carved

Martin Scorsese has consistently toyed with “the master image."  The director, who carves out entire scenes of his films in advance on story-boards down to the closest close-up or the tiniest drop of blood, literally envisions his films, locating when successful the idea in the image. The master image is that frame that captures the “more pressure per square inch” that Ezra Pound attributes to great (poetic) art: in Taxi Driver the shot of Travis Bickle — alone, head down, hands in pockets — walking under the porno theater marquee, nearly overwhelmed by his own loneliness and the urban sleaze around him, was Scorsese’s master image for the film. It ultimately became the poster for the movie in its initial release.

Having recently re-watched The King of Comedy, I pretend Scorsese’s master image in that film to be the frightening tracking shot where we pull away from Rupert Pupkin’s back as he stands in front of his imagined accolades and audience; it’s delusional, the adoring crowd-shot reproduced on cardboard, Rupert adrift in his own vacuous, desperate imagination-cum-desire. As the camera slowly recoils from the scene we realize that we can’t really be in Rupert’s apartment: the walls are institutional in design, the space is far too large and industrially-lit. We're trapped with Rupert somewhere in the vacancy of his mind. It’s a great image of the celebrity-obsessed, fractured pre-Millennium psyche, and it haunts.


If there was ever a master image for the sprawling, chaotic, flawed cinema-masterpiece called the Twentieth Century it might be Harold and Esther Edgerton’s infamous stop-action photograph of the bullet tearing through the apple.

Everything in the composition of this reality suggests the ecstasies and horrors of our age. The apple is perfect, unblemished, a freak of nature or a gift courtesy of touch-up photography; the stem protrudes toward us in cliché; the apple is located in space and locked down onto a metallic base; the bullet moves through the flesh with gorgeous, awe-inspiring absoluteness, its efficiency nearly erotic; the shot is composed with unerring accuracy, the stop-action freeze telling us that we've located reality’s on-off switch in this century, that we can now peer at and evaluate that which we could only hitherto imagine (quaint myths, Before Photography); the bullet drags our perspective toward the left frame with fierce but ballet-like dexterity, toward a future celebrated with might. The natural world is pinned down, found out, our machinations plowing through it like a freeway. There’s some dignity in the Apple as Victim.

This is an alternate Zapruder film: the genetically-perfected fruit, the blown innards soft and cottony.  Violence staged, then perfected.  Intrusion as Art.


I had both the fortune and the misfortune of growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.. When I lived there in the 1980s the city reigned as the Murder Capital Of The Nation. It was national news (I think we’d dethroned Detroit) and it was kind of embarrassing, and scary: nearly everyday I drove down the same streets feared and lamented in editorials and news reports.

In a macabre burst of curiosity I found myself drawn to the notion of being surrounded by so much violence and death. I was venturing into the city from the suburbs to visit my girlfriend, who was attending George Washington University, or for afternoons in the museums and long nights in the bars, but I still felt nearly tattooed by the rising tide of violence in that city (an urban eruption nearly entirely in the Northeast and Southeast quadrants). What was shocking was the anonymity. Not only were there few faces on the evening news with which to sympathize, there were hardly any “people,” period: I was amazed at the rising number of corpses, discovered by the metropolitan police in abandoned warehouses or apartment buildings, that couldn't be identified.

One summer I began a running body-count in the Washington Post. Each morning I looked in the paper for an account of last night’s murders: I never doubted that there wouldn’t be one. The fatalities rose exponentially with the humidity and by late-July the murder reports were pushed to the back of the Metro Section, especially if the discovered body or bodies could not be identified. A fifth of a column would be devoted to the news, maximum. Some mornings I read about as many as a dozen bodies which had been littered about the city overnight, victims of homicides. They were found in back seats of torched cars, in rodent-infested abandoned buildings, in needle-strewn parks, in dumpsters. I had lost count by the time September, and college, arrived.

One morning, possessed by youthful righteousness, or simply childish naivete, my obsession with loud violence got the better of me: a news item reported that a young woman had been murdered by a male intruder. What was conspicuous about this account was that it printed the address of the building where the death occurred. I was used to a generic location, such as the “3000 block of so-and-so street.” The specificity of the address tapped me on the shoulder; this death had a tactile quality to it, integrity as something real.  I could locate it.

I drove to the building the next afternoon, either on my way in or out of the city, I can't remember.  I vividly recall my heart beating up through my neck as I approached the particular block of Rhode Island Avenue. What was I afraid of? That the murderer still lurked? Come on, Bonomo. As far as I knew he hadn't been apprehended, but the possibility of a loose cannon felt quite remote. It didn’t take me long to name that what I feared most was my unnatural, natural drift toward a kind of seamy documenting.

All a part of human nature, I told myself as I parked across the street. It had taken me a little while to locate the building; though the address was specific, the block of buildings was generic. Eventually I zoned in on a very narrow, pale-red brick apartment building squeezed between two larger, squatter buildings. There couldn’t have been more than half-a-dozen rooms inside. I sat in my car and stared at that facade. What was I expecting? What, really, was I doing here? Pushing away explicit guesses of the murder’s details, I imagined through which shadowy window of which room the murder could have been witnessed; I wondered on the time of death, and on what could have been happening in the adjacent rooms…. The building looked calm, unperturbed. And what was most melancholic to me was the fact that, indeed, nothing looked any different. Different than what? Than what I imagined it looked like before this one in three hundred murders occurred? The traffic streamed past me efficiently, in its purpose and sudden, high-minded resolve mocking my affected impulse to obtain humane knowledge about an anonymous event that I had no business lurking around. I suddenly felt sick, and started my car. I drove on, entering the traffic. I wouldn’t be able to locate that building now if given a dozen chances.

My obsession for locating violence was really about my obsession for space, for geometric proof that the world exists in its niceties and its grimness. Gaston Bachelard, in The Poetics of Space:

These virtues of shelter are so simple, so deeply rooted in our unconscious that they may be recaptured through mere mention, rather than through minute description. Here the nuance bespeaks the color. A poet’s word, because it strikes true, moves the very depths of our being.

I can barely reproduce that building on Rhode Island Avenue in my memory, but it remains in me, emblematic. An emblem for what?


Scorsese, forced often to defend the presence and the explicitness of the violence in his films, shows us his hands: he's simply reacting to, and then documenting, the world. He once described an eerily daily event to Rolling Stone's Anthony DeCurtis:

I just took a cab on 57th Street, we’re about to make a turn on Eighth Avenue, and three Puerto Rican guys are beating each other up over the cab. Over it—from my side, onto the hood, onto the other side. Now, this is just normal—to the point where the cabbie and myself, not a word. We don't say anything. He just makes his right turn and we move on.

The violence in Washington D.C. had become for me so ordinary and routine that I'd wondered if placing myself in context would make any kind of difference. It didn’t. We usually drive on. But that building, that master image, represents a particular summer to me, one hot summer when I tried to locate myself in a space dulled by such rote violence that it barely existed. I rub my eyes.

Taxi Driver poster via The Movie SnobThe King of Comedy soundtrack cover via The Band.  Edgerton Bullet Photo via Teacher's Amusement Center.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Agnostic Memoirist

The conception of nostalgia first surfaced in 1770 as "severe homesickness," and was considered a clinical disease.  The word had been coined in 1668 by Johannes Hofer as a German derivation of the Greek work nostos, which meant "homecoming" plus "pain, grief, distress." The contemporary idea of nostalgia as a "wistful yearning for the past" was apparently first recorded nearly a century ago.

That's quite a ride: from disease and pain to desirous and dreamy.  Nostalgia can be buoyant and pleasurable but it can also breed sentimentality and mawkishness, and I wonder how we avoid the artistic limitations of homesickness while recognizing it as a valuable and sometimes inevitable link to the past.  When I'm nostalgic what I want is a homecoming with a place that's been remade in my dreams and memory, and, thus, a place that doesn't exist.  How do you write about a place — or about events or people — that no longer exists?  This is one of the problems John Edgar Wideman wrestles with in Brothers and Keepers, a memoir about Wideman's imprisoned brother Robby who figuratively (and tragically) disappears for the author when he's between prison visits.  How to write about a person who doesn't exist in a place?  In Wideman's case, you despair and fail.

I can turn to fiction (as did Wideman).  But if I want to write autobiographically, "truthfully" about a time and place that no longer exists, I guess I need to sift the actual through the invented and see what remains.  Is that fool's gold?  Nostalgia is, of course, as truthful in its way as the past that it's replaced.  But the distance between the two can be enormous, fatally so.  Sometimes I feel as if I'm a kind of Agnostic Memoirist: I've turned away so far from the past toward nostalgia that I've broken the narrative string binding the two.  I know the verifiable past is back there and yet....  Now what?  One of the tasks of personal writers is to revisit the past in artful, memorable, and culturally useful ways. Though a pleasurable and seductive means to that past, nostalgia also creates (potential) roadblocks toward larger essaying and personal candor. Even minor childhood or adolescent griefs can carry the softening agent of nostalgia, but if memory is rid of all pain ("severe") or distress, it ceases to be a conduit to reality and instead becomes a fiction.  Happy Days on Tuesday nights, where racism is the dirty word we never see, scrawled on the inside of the bathroom stall.  Do Bob Ross's landscapes exist in the actual world?  They were/are certainly truths embraced by millions.  Did the hill slope so prettily like that, or did it end in an acid pool?  Or both.  Hear that buzz saw and those trucks just outside the frame?  Didn't think so.  

The Agnostic Memoirist needs to make contact with the unsentimentalized and anti-mawkish past.  Some days it feels to me like a leap of faith.  For the dreamy guy, a nice thing, for the writer, not so much.

"Nostalgia (Revisited)" via Luke Chueh.  Etymology of "nostalgia" via the (great) Online Etymology Dictionary.  Get your nerd on.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lofty Ambitions

Writer, editor, and teacher Anna Leahy asked me to guest-blog at her very interesting Lofty Ambitions site.  I abstract my dad:
My dad is not an unhappy man.  For many years, the contrasts between his temperamental conservatism and the bleakness of the painting, his love of numbers and systems, and the curious content of this image led to an unknown: my dad’s shadowy, emotional life.  An integral completes, forms a unit; his commingling of rational mathematics and irrational art-making, the rigidity of numerals, and the wandering of the imagination surprised and moved me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Beatles at Fantasy Park

On Memorial Weekend in 1975 a local radio station in Washington D.C.—I think it was DC101—broadcast a live concert, "The Beatles at Fantasy Park." The event was syndicated over 200 stations and, hipped to the event by my older brothers, I was primed. We recorded the entire broadcast over two Certron cassette tapes that we'd bought at Dart Drug. The concert was, of course, a fake, an homage to the era's propensity for pseudo-events and to the timeless desire for the Beatles to reunite. The show's creators played a "set list" of Beatles songs onto which they dubbed arena-sized concert noise: a roaring, elated crowd; ambient spectator chatter caught on-mike; "interviews" with local personalities and with the individual Beatles themselves; reporters offering remote, on-the-spot features inside of the venue. An exciting Concert Event, indeed.

The verisimilitude was astounding. More than three decades later I remember the top-of-the-head-coming-off excitement I experienced that my words can only now pretend to translate. It was the coolest thing I'd ever heard, magical, strange, even though I knew it was a faked event, a conflation of dreams and technology—most of this beyond my articulation at the time. I remember the realistic-sounding jostling of the reporters to get closer to Lennon or Harrison who were opining for a group of journalists backstage.  (Someone faked the accents, I guess.) I remember marveling at the hoots and cheers and whistles of the crowd, the level of which was expertly raised and lowered during the performance. I remember that the show's creators decided to open with "Baby, You're A Rich Man" which was a weird enough choice that my brothers and I debated it for days afterward. There was definitively something of the era in the whole event: our family had bought the "Red" and "Blue" albums at Korvettes a couple of years before, and my head tingled with imagined scenes of this concert, and at the very real thrill of the idea of the Beatles back together, manufactured and canned as the whole thing was.

A few years later, a rumor was floated that the Beatles were reuniting to play a series of benefit concerts for the Cambodian and Vietnamese boat people. That morning I hopefully clipped the article from the Washington Post and handled it up in my bedroom as if it was a sacred text. The rumor burned up the playground at Saint Andrew the Apostle for a few days and, like the fade of the imagined crowd after the last encore at Fantasy Park, soon disappeared for good. The 1980s and Lennon's murder were around the corner.

I have the Fantasy Park cassette tapes downstairs in the basement, somewhere. I'm hesitant to dig them out and play them. My tape deck has lurked in that basement as well for years now; I'm not sure I'd remember how to hook it up to my stereo. Also, I'm wary of the brittle tapes themselves coming apart in a cloud of dust if I did try to play them.


The tapes are a locus for a strange, dark memory, as well. Weeks after recording the event, I was down in the basement of the house listening obsessively. Something weird overtook me, and I watched as my fingers pressed the red RECORD button on the tape recorder, erasing several seconds of the program.  I stared at the recorder, dumbstruck. I was heartsick. My heart raced, I depressed the button again, and again, alone in the room, erasing more of the show.  It was bizarre, and kind of sick. I knew that I'd deeply regret doing it—and I still do, 35 years later—and yet I got off on a kind of power that I suddenly could lord over myself.  Don't, I said. Do it, I said. Don't! I did. I was nauseous, ashamed of the disappointment I'd created for my brothers who also liked listening to the tape, and was ashamed of myself, and yet I luxuriated, unhappily, in a quasi-masochistic drama with only myself to blame, myself to champion. The song was interrupted by the quiet of the basement and my own stupid breathing. I was learning, without realizing, the ways we can betray ourselves, often against our will, often with malice, and often with heartbreak. (President Nixon had resigned less than a year before my trivial transgression in the basement, the infamous 18 1/2-second gap in the Watergate audiotape soon to surface. Now, I associate those two erasures in my memory, impossibly, frivolously.) I'll never get those seconds back.

What's been erased has been imprinted in me in a different, equally unchangeable way. Andre Dubus: "A trifling incident in a whole lifetime, you may say. Not true." The blend of excitement, fear, regret, and power I felt in those moments was curious, and sad.

Image of Certron cassette via The Aural-Retentive Blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two Suburban Panels

Outside our rec room window I could have made out the hum of the industrial cleaner next door as it circled the circumference of the neighbors' pool like some Ur-serpent created in a lab.  I could have listened for the soft zapt of a bug-light down the street, the buzz of the central air conditioning machine manufacturing and controlling the climate in our own house. Somewhere in some room someone might have been playing shadow puppets on a wall, discovering beneath his skin a rabbit, or a dog, or a bird trapped in flight. Someone might have traced her hand with a pencil and left a turkey outlined on ruled loose leaf paper. Somewhere someone was always tracing the animal in himself, the world in the imperfect body.

When my neighbor suffered a debilitating stroke, her husband ensconced her in an indoor greenhouse of sorts.  I remember seeing her from our backyard patio: her feeble head poking up among a crowd of potted and hanging plants, grayish-white hair lost among a forest of green.  Her extended porch hung out over the outdoor pool, and was walled in glass; the sun streamed in effortlessly, patiently basking her — she formerly had been a tireless jogger, and an avid gardener — in a glow, otherworldly.  She had her beloved outdoors inside with her, in her lap, on her shelves, perimeter of glass and dream. As the suburbs re-created the natural world all around me, my neighbor re-created the natural world inside the unnatural world inside the suburban dream.  Freedom, ownership, convenience, property line.  The neighbors cleaned up the chemical seepage from their pool, although a small patch of our yard was scorched. And for a while my neighbor gingerly swam, the suburban fountain holding her aloft.  I smiled, and looked the other way.

Photo courtesy of Suburbia Calling.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Noplace USA

Officially, I don’t have a hometown.  From Wikipedia: 
Wheaton [Maryland]'s boundaries are not officially defined.  The United States Census Bureau has not chosen to make Wheaton itself into a Census-Designated Place, but instead combines it with Glenmont into a single Wheaton-Glenmont CDP, centered at 39°3′N 77°3′W / 39.05°N 77.05°W / 39.05; -77.05, whose 2000 census population was 57,694. According to Rand McNally, the Greater Wheaton area (which extends beyond Wheaton-Glenmont CDP) had an estimated population of 134,800 in 2005.  The United States Geological Survey, however, does consider Wheaton as a place whose center is at latitude [show location on an interactive map] 39°2′23″N 77°3′20″W / 39.03972°N 77.05556°W / 39.03972; -77.05556.  The United States Postal Service has assigned Zip Code 20902 to Wheaton but the Wheaton Post Office is part of the Silver Spring area.  Downtown Wheaton can be found at the intersections of Veirs Mill Road (Md. Rt. 586), University Boulevard (Md. Rt. 193), and Georgia Avenue (Md. Rt. 97). 

The mind reels.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Brief Conversation with the Author

Q:  You think about yourself a lot?
A:  Yes.

Q:  Pardon the cliche, but isn’t that a bit narcissistic?
A:  Sure.

Q:  Why such self-absorption, such self-interrogation?
A:  Of course.

Q:  Do you think anyone cares for you?  Your life?  Your memories?

Q:  Well?
A:  Art is in the shaping.

Q:  You know what V. S. Naipaul said to his father once, in a letter, right?
A:  Yes.

Q:  “No one cares for your tragedy...”
A:  “...until you can sing about it.”

Q:  Yes.
A:  Yep.

Q:  Define "sing."
A:  That's right.

Q:  Where did you go?

A:  I’m trying to be transparent.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sleeping with Bob Ross

When I lived in Athens, Ohio during graduate school I was tired a lot, the predictable consequence of balancing excess and discipline.  I'd often crash in the afternoons on a couch both hideous and insanely comfortable, and often while The Joy of Painting was on the local PBS station.

Bob Ross' voice — as millions know — is a sedative of the most pleasing, sonorous kind.  He'd ease me into my hungover or stressed-out nap not only with his susurrations but via the idealized little worlds, the realities, he'd create.  There's something comforting about Ross' landscapes, the slow emerging of tree lines, then trees, then foreground, then color, then a battered old abandoned barn that imported a (very small) gravitas into the scene.  Drifting in and out of sleep, I happily suspended my critical thinking and enjoyed the aesthetics of a kind of Prelapsarian prettiness where trees were happy because they were and because they provided shelter for little creatures who live beneath and inside of them.  It didn't matter to me that Ross was ignoring brutality, or, say, the grim emotional life of the farmer whose deserted barn might speak to disappointments and failures.  In fact, I'd chide myself for thinking such stuff.  Get over yourself.

The Joy of Painting is a feast for the ears, especially vulnerable, weary ears.  Ross' gentle voice and manner, yes, but also the sounds that his brushes and edges made: the swishes and soft taps; the calm scraping; the damp pats; the washes.  God, it's wonderful, sensual stuff when you're crashed on the couch with a headache and want nothing less than a nicer and less ugly world to wake up to.  Ross' gentle exhortations were comforting, too — rubbing up mildly against my stringent, increasingly rarefied notions of aesthetics and art-making and collapsing them all.  I wouldn't buy a Bob Ross painting out of anything other than cool, distant irony, supercilious humor, or would I?  The answer to that question says a lot, and I should pursue it, but I'm sleeping now....


I took a Linguistics course in graduate school and remember wondering on the warm, moist places in Bob Ross' mouth where his tongue would land when he said, so gently and invitingly, "titanium white."  In that dreamy haze between sleep and wakefulness Ross' simple recitation of colors, of a philosophy of representational painting that involved no existential mania, no senseless violence, no "nature red in tooth and claw," no questioning of God's place in the fractured design of a cruel world — it was enough to take my knees out from under me, and it was a good thing I was lying down.  Ross' small landscapes would sometimes bring tears to my eyes, vulnerable and exhausted as I was laid out by a hangover and a burdensome, tiresome way of seeing things.  Trees make friends with other trees, man, that's nice.

In our Post-Ironic era there are people who are inordinately obsessed with your personal life, or who spend hours on Photoshop rendering images of you painting "Hail Satan" on your canvas or mockingly deifying you, but Bob Ross, you always restored a simple elegance to the world and its making.  It's too easy to defend against small, genuine pleasures with irony and distance, with Godless indifference.  I may have teased you in public, or inwardly scorned your simplistic renderings, but it was nearly always in conflict with the real pleasures I experienced while watching you chasten me, and remind me of the world's beauty unburdened with lousy, imported dread.  I loved my naps with you.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

church and space

Dearborn Street, Chicago, October.
"Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space," Mies Van der Rohe