Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It was a good mail day; I received the original 1987 poster for The Smiths ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’. Ahh, Ebay.

I’ve spent an eon looking for this particular poster, difficult to find because it was produced for record store promotion only. This means that someone had to first save a flimsy, disposable item, and then part with it after 20 years.

The photo of Elvis Presley was taken by James R. Reid, his hairdresser. He’s young; not yet the cocky, confident, leather clad icon, but we recognize that uniquely handsome face.

There will always be detractors of The Smiths and Morrissey, but I’m a loyal fan. Not of just their music, but also the fine design of their album covers (the Rough Trade releases have such beautiful vintage photos and minimal typography). I went to one of their concerts in Chicago at a small venue that had no seating, just dance floor. Morrissey crooned and swayed and was drenched in sweat. The room was dark and packed and everyone was dancing. I remember afterwards riding home on the El with the window open, the wind drying my damp t-shirt.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chuck and Judy

I attended the 50th anniversary celebration for Chuck and Judy at Papa Cristo’s. Everything was delicious; the salty olives rolling around the plates as they were placed, the other couples seated around me that were nearing their own 50th marker, the little gold wedding rings strewn across the long tables, and the tiny portrait buttons we received as favors.

Judy remarked that she had ‘half a brain, and so does Chuck.’ I laughed, because Chuck told me that same thing a number of years ago. It’s their way of saying they complete each other. Because there were a lot of people and we all sat wherever there was an empty seat, they wound up at separate tables. It didn’t matter, because it’s clear they are now and always will be together.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Vincent Gallo, Tetro

I saw two new films this week; Tetro, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and Moon, written by Nathan Parker and directed by Duncan Jones.

Tetro is the name of the film’s main character, who has left his American home and complicated family for a modest life in Argentina. Several years have elapsed when his young brother Benny arrives unexpectedly; unraveling his current life and unhinging their shared troubled past.

In Moon, Sam Bell has worked solo on a lunar mining station with the assistance of a soft-spoken and slow moving robot named Gerty. His three-year contract is nearly complete; a good thing, because Sam is beginning to lose his mind.

It seems unfair to compare such wildly opposite films, whose stories are different in every way besides their genres. Except that in both films, the idea that memory can be both a blessing and a curse is so powerful. Sam longs to return to Earth and leave the bleak loneliness of the mining station, Benny reaches out to Tetro for the comfort of family, Tetro can hardly breathe when he recalls his former life. Each of these characters is deeply imprinted by his memories and possessed with the idea of ‘home’.

Both films are somber and provocative, and the cinematography in Tetro is a visual treat (Argentina and the Patagonia region are gorgeous!). You do have an alternative to the summer films that are heavy with car chases, romantic romps and Sensurround explosions.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I took a writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg many years ago. She offered some helpful advise for the problem of writers block; simply begin a page with, “I remember…” or “I don’t remember…”

With painting, when I feel stumped, I noodle around with the simplest still life. Over time, my go-to object has been a glass of water. I have a series now, and try to paint one glass each week.

I just finished reading the very good biography of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch. If you’ve never read any of her work, give yourself the gift of her short stories. She was disciplined, deeply religious, outspoken and funny. She succumbed to lupus at the age of 39, but through her stories and letters you sense an amazing spirit and great strength.

I lift this week’s glass to Flannery.

Friday, June 26, 2009


The popsicle was invented by an eleven year old. Sure, the original name was Eppsicle and it took many years for Frank Epperson to receive his patent for "frozen ice on a stick" and his grandchildren to rename it, but kudos to kid power.

Twin popsicles were introduced during the Great Depression, long before and completely ignored by my friend Alice and me when we split the cherry-banana version on a daily basis. Alice would break the popsicle in two, pull the cherry pop towards her, leaving the banana side for me. Neither flavor tasted like the actual fruit, but the cherry pop would leave your mouth all magenta.