Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Poetry Wednesday

Dead Things

I'm really worried about the squirrel
on the high point of the roof, sleeping,
with his his belly pressed against the slats.

He reminds me of our ginger cat
who died in a strange place that he had

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

Hades' Pitch
by Rita Dove

If I could just touch your ankle, he whispers, there 
on the inside, above the bone—leans closer, 
breath of lime and pepper—I know I could 
make love to you. She considers 
this, secretly thrilled, though she wasn’t quite 
sure what he meant. He was good 
with words, words that went straight to the liver. 
Was she falling for him out of sheer boredom— 
cooped up in this anything-but-humble dive, stone 
gargoyles leering and brocade drapes licked with fire? 
Her ankle burns where he described it. She sighs 
just as her mother aboveground stumbles, is caught 
by the fetlock—bereft in an instant— 
while the Great Man drives home his desire.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

THROW YOUR LIFE AWAY (Or Just The Parts You Don't Need Anymore)

There’s this steamer trunk I’ve had since middle school. It’s grey and crooked like an old elephant, and it’s covered in an unfortunate sticker hodgepodge representing various phases and causes and foreign countries I may or may not have visited. There are terrifying “meat is murder” PETA ones, a Harley Davidson flag, and a Scottish coat of arms. There’s a Beatles sticker I got in Liverpool, and a Berlin sticker I found in Poughkeepsie. The trunk lives in the back corner of my sun porch. One of the wheels broke off the last time I moved, so one end rests slightly higher than the other. If you set a round object on it, the object will roll. Cylinders, when placed on their sides, will also roll.

Periodically, I open this steamer trunk, and evaluate the contents. There are photos of my grandparents when they were young, my graduation caps from high school and college, concert tickets, museum pamphlets, valentines, and every beer bracelet I’ve ever gotten. Last summer, my boyfriend worked an early morning shift, and I’d wake up to a note or a drawing EVERY SINGLE DAY. They’re all in there. The corsage my best friend from high school (who turned out to be gay) gave me for our first dance is in there. The New York Times from the morning after Obama was elected. My hospital bracelet from the time I almost cut my finger off at Vassar. A headless, shapeless “Nefertiti Statue” I whittled out of clay when I was ten. Basically, it’s all in there.

Today I opened up the trunk for the first time in more than a year. It’s a strange thing to look at your life condensed and so selectively. Like, I hated high school, but it all looks very pleasant in material retrospect.

I’m happy to have most of what’s in my trunk, but during this particular evaluation, I was very much bothered by all of the shiny plastic trophies. We really need to stop rewarding kids for perfect attendance. I went to school with pneumonia more than once for the sake of those darn trophies. MORE THAN ONCE.

Flute trophies, math trophies, history trophies. SO MUCH PLASTIC. I was even “MOST IMPROVED” in my kiddie soccer league, because I learned where on the field I should be standing when I was playing “offence” versus when I was playing “defense”. Annnnnnnnnnnd there was a trophy for it.

So, basically, I am laden with plastic trophies I will never display, and probably (definitely) didn’t deserve. WHY DID I BRING THESE TO GRAD SCHOOL WITH ME? They might be made of plastic, but cumulatively, they are. So. Freaking. Heavy. I should apologize to my stepfather and brother-in-law for bringing these trophies with me to Rochester. They were carried up many stairs.

Picking through my trunk, I suddenly HAD to purge them. I have no idea why it hadn’t occurred to me sooner, but once I started throwing genie-lamp-shaped “BEST CURSIVE WRITER” trophies away, lots of other things fell into the trash bag vortex. Drawings I did of mermaids when I was eight, with their chests covered by mint green clam shells. GONE. An eye patch from the Pirates’ Cove mini golf course in Lake George. GONE. Dry, rotten carnation corsage. GONE (sorry Michael, it was gross). Picture-day pictures from the most awkward years of my life. GONE GONE GONE. Oh, and the beer bracelets.

Holy cannoli, it felt DAMN good to get rid of these things. Why do we hold on to so much STUFF? I’m not even talking about photos. I’m talking about stuff. The horrible little knickknack-y things we can’t stand to throw away but really really REALLY just need to throw away.

Throw that shit away. I highly recommend it.

But neon pink Vassar FannyPack, I AM KEEPING YOU.

Friday, June 22, 2012

All The Little Houses Now Has A Tumblr!

That's right kiddies. You can now weed out all of my art/music/life blather by simply visiting for all of your image needs. Don't worry. If you like it all lumped together, I'll still do Wanderlust posts here on blogger once in a while.

Enjoy. Alternatively, feel free to hate it.

Lost At Sea: The Art of Alex Weinstein

You've got to love a surf-bum who knows his way around a paint brush.

Alex Weinstein translates his love and need for the ocean into gorgeous oil paintings and fiberglass sculptures. "The ocean has been such an overwhelmingly benevolent force in my life," he has said. "I can't stand leaving it and I really don't even want to take my eyes off it for long." His works become something more than pleasant or even contemplative landscapes; they feel rather like portraits of a lover. Familiar, obsessive, and necessary.

Somewhere between Turner's sea-scapes, Rothko's color-fields, and Judd's minimalist objects, his creations are the confluence of the misty sublime and material reality. 

Images, from top to bottom:
Alex in his studio
(Just Like) Passing Clouds, oil on panel, 2011
In This Light, oil on panel, 2011
Ocean Size (Wish I Was), oil on canvas, 2005
Untitled, oil on panel, 2009
Untitled Swell Model, resin, wood, pigment, foam, bondo, 2009
Detail from Swell Model

Summer Solstice

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Unemployed in Summertime: Ryan McGinley

I've posted before about Ryan McGinley and how his photographs seem to me to be a frenzied celebration of youth. I love to look at them in the summertime, when school recesses and nobody wants to give a PhD student a minimum wage for three months. It's fine, they say. You live in Neverland. You are young and immortal and the sky is purple. They're all about bonfires and road trips and swimming naked and having absolutely nowhere to be. Here are a few of my favorite pictures he took in 2011.

From the top: 
Purple Beacon
Ocean Rain
Amanda (Haystacks)
Taylor (Rushing River)
Amanda (Monsoon Mount)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Poetry Wednesday


you are drawing me
(no one ever draws me/
it hasn’t happened in a while)
but it’s pleasant like soda pop
fizzing all over
falling short of my fingers
but welling over in places

there is a terrible mania
in me
when I think of it, as it must be
pooling on the floor

I feel this way when someone else washes my hair
and when the doorbell rings.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

The Tree
by Alfred Kreymborg

I am four monkeys.
One hangs from a limb,
chattering at the earth;
another is cramming his belly with coconut;
the third is up in the top branches,
quizzing the sky,
and the fourth—
he's chasing another monkey.
How many monkeys are you?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Looks Like Home: Brooke Berman's Memoir

I had Brooke Berman's No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments in my Amazon shopping cart for a really long time. Like, more than a year. House and home and leave-taking...these are concepts that are hugely meaningful for me, almost to the point of being talismanic. Not that I've lived in 39 apartments or anything. But one of my dearest childhood wishes was stasis. I wanted a big white colonial, like the one in Father of the Bride. And I wanted to live there until I turned 18, and I wanted my room to remain untouched so I could come home on break from college and sleep on wildly age-inappropriate sheets, surrounded by my perfect attendance trophies and unicorn beanie babies.

I finally caved and bought it two weeks ago, and I'm still not sure what I think of it. Berman tells the story of the twenty-odd years between her grand move to New York City at the tender age of 18 and her discovery of "true love" as she nears 40, all while struggling to define her own success as a playwright and find spiritual enlightenment through scented candles and neighbors who read tarot cards. Instead of chapter-headings, we have addresses. Instead of characters, we have friends and lovers who blend into one another and merge and inevitably disappear, fading in and out of Berman's history and becoming ex-friends and ex-lovers that, along with un-loved possessions, are purged from storage spaces and end up curbside.

The thing about the book I can't get past is the way it settles into an ending. Berman's beautiful, theatrical, one-footed mother dies, and she can finally embrace her success without guilt or the fear that, halfway across the country, her mother is overdosing on something. She finds a man who wants a committed, monogamous relationship (or are their neediness gauges just the same?), and they get engaged. She finds...mortgaged bliss? Harumph. It's much too tidy, I think.

One of the book's strengths is the way in which it links transitions between spaces and transitions between people. The implication is that, when you find a space you can settle into, you can probably settle into a relationship as well. And vice versa. As the book morphs from a story about the intangibility of home into one about the tangibility of love, are we meant to fully embrace that implication. Does one equal the other?

Being at home in another person. It's a mighty clich├ęd idea, but also a pretty nice one. 

Wanderlust: LusterDust