January 2005


The Ghost of C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Future?

The ever growing trend toward political correctness in addressing the C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ holiday, seems to have snowballed this year.

Public schools and institutions are particularly sensitive about using the “C” word in any pageants or displays, ever mindful of the tenet we all hold so dear: the separation of church and state. And while it is a concept embedded in the very fiber of the republic, we nevertheless wonder with some trepidation, about things like say… how long that humongous tree in Rockefeller Center will continue to stand uncontested.

And then of course, there is always economics to consider. What retailer in his or her— political correctness in the use of pronoun noted— right mind, would want to limit sales potential, by using the “C” word, and thereby jeopardizing, for example, that untapped Scientologist market segment?

Of course, the “C” holiday long ago became secularized so this is hardly news. But now, even the secularized version of C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ is causing consternation in the public domain. That guy in the red suit with the flying reindeer (and have the animal rights activists looked into this as yet?), dispensing toys (and no doubt running a sweat shop and violating union rules), has been coming under fire as well. And who knows, maybe he should.

Not wanting to be out of step with where future sensibilities might fall, we propose taking the pre-emptive step of renaming “you know who”, and adopting a new color-coordinated ensemble, to boot. As a picture is purported to be worth 1,000 words (though perhaps say only 860 these days, what with inflation), have a look below to get our drift:

Sani Tized

And fear not. It should be no problem to re-edit all the lyrics in the many songs we have sung in homage to this plump fellow, lo these many years. A few examples:

“…Sani Tized is coming to town.”

“I saw mommy kissing Sani Tized”

“Here comes Sani Tized,

     Here comes Sani Tized,

     right down Sani Tized Way.”

“Then one foggy Holiday Eve, Sani came to say…”

Finally, we’d wish you a Happy New Year. But whose year? And marked by what calendar? So I think we’ll take a pass on this, and wish you all “A Good One” instead.


An Encounter With Sir Shadow

While attending a 20th anniversary fund raising event hosted by the Working Theater in New York, honoring Harry Belafonte, we happened upon a gentleman who goes by the name Sir Shadow.

He sat at a nearby table, apparently doodling throughout the evening’s proceedings: the great entertainment, the speeches, the dinner that followed. Although… doodling? That’s like saying we saw Itshak Perlman fiddling.

This man, Sir Shadow, is a virtuoso of “the freehand line”— uninterrupted. Never lifting his meandering felt pen from paper in the course of the minute or so it takes him to finish, he turns out works of art that…well, once again a picture being worth, etc… see below:

We bought an original 12” x 18” sized illustration, similar to the one above. The cost? “Whatever is in your heart”, said Sir Shadow. Our heart said priceless, but we opened up our wallet instead, and gave him something that seemed at least somewhat worthy of his short time yet long talents.

And as he slipped it into his pocket, unmindful of the denomination, he continued drawing and philosophizing: “I call my writing and art work FLOWETRY; which is the art of positive thinking in action.”

You too can have a piece of this “Flowetry”…


“Spalding Gray was my favorite color…”

At the close of each year, The New York Times Magazine, in a collection of essays, offers a review of some of the more interesting people who have died in the past twelve months; people who have "made a difference."

One such person profiled in this year's issue was Spalding Gray. He committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island ferry last February. We couldn't help but recall the line from our poem, "I Keep This Journal In Lieu Of Keepsakes" (page 15; Shots From A Passing Car), which we have reprised and emboldened as a title above.

We had first become aware of Spalding Gray in the early 70's when he was starring in a Sam Sheppard play The Tooth of Crime. It was performed in a small theater in the then fledgling neighborhood of SoHo in New York.

He was a riveting on-stage presence, what with his cue-ball head- when such baldness was still bold- and menace in his eyes. But his "fame", as it were, was to come much later as a monologist- of all things- in such film exercises as Swimming to Cambodia, Monster in a Box and It's a Slippery Slope.

What we loved about Mr. Gray, so aptly named, is that he was constantly delving into gray matter and finding fresh insight into commonplace occurrences. And that he managed to captivate and hold one's attention with the spoken word alone, absent any real set or props, save a table upon which rested a pitcher of water and maybe a slide here and there on a screen behind him.

Many have said the suicide was inevitable. Is that not a given for the tormented artist? It's all but a cliché. But Spalding Gray- suicide aside- was a one-of-a-kind performing artist. And to complete the thought expressed in the line from our poem:

“Spalding Gray was my favorite color;
black & white— clear-cut: my least.”


Old Painting; New Context

In December, we made our first visit to the newly transfigured Museum of Modern Art in New York. We will spare you a full review of our take on the venue, other than to state in one sentence that: it is a marriage of art and architecture made, if not in heaven, then certainly in a place where there is no need for pre-nuptial agreements.

In the course of the six hours we spent there, much caught our eye; stopped us in our tracks. While too numerous to mention here, one particular “old” painting veritably jumped off the wall at us, by virtue of its hanging— not in a new place…but in “a new context”.

The Map (1978) by Jasper Johns— a rendering of the United States— was never a painting of which we took any special note. But coming upon this work now, one is immediately struck by the irony in the mish-mash of colors… red, blue, pink, orange, turquoise, yellow, gray, etc spilling across state lines. Implicit in this multi-layering of oils is that, so too, do the many American cultures and differences co-exist and overlap in vibrant harmony. All of the states (and us by extension) are part of the same canvas, if you will. See below:

The Map (1978) by Jasper Johns

Compare this to the rigid Red State/Blue State color demarcations, that have become so familiar on Election Day maps; that have so come to define our political landscape with all its attendant polarization.


Eclectic Katie From The U.K.

Last month it was an incredible “Gen-Xer” (Jane Monheit). Now, this past month, we have come across a “Gen-Yer”, whose voice and style belie her 20 years. 20 years! We have cats older than that.

The name: Katie Melua. The CD: Call Off the Search, which was number one in the U.K. as “long ago” as January 2004.

Recently coming to the U.S. from her homeland, she brings with her a rather eclectic mix of songs and intriguing vocal inflections. Ms. Melua reminds us in turn, of the likes of a Patsy Kline, Joni Mitchell, Buffy St. Marie and Marianne Faithfull, to name a few. Elusive as a butterfly, she is a singer hard to pin down.

Most of the songs on this CD are written by a guy named Mike Batt, with some by Ms. Melua herself, and one by Randy Newman (I Think It’s Going To Rain Today). There’s also an old chestnut included called, Learnin’ The Blues, which was recorded by Sinatra in ’55, with much success. (Did ‘Ole Blue Eyes ever experience anything less?).

Anyway, we don’t know whether to congratulate her or burp her. You decide. Check her out…

Web Design by Computaid
Copyright © 2004-2007