YOU CAN’T TRUST YOUR MIRROR


I have always felt that the mirror takes advantage of our gullibility. For instance, when I pass a mirror, I see a middle-aged blonde woman, who at one time, if not exactly pretty, is at least interesting.

mirror2

The word ‘interesting’ is interesting in itself. It’s a word people often use to comment on something, rather than telling them what they really think. If they don’t want to insult the artist’s latest effort, which they hate, it seems kinder to tell them it’s interesting.

Some years ago while we were at a family gathering, while watching a cousin across the room, a relative said “You’re not attractive, and I’m not attractive, but she’s attractive. To show that I don’t hold grudges, I am still speaking to her.

But back to the mirror, I was shocked to find from a photograph, that my hair is silver! Everyone else had told me it was, but I chose to believe my mirror. In the 70’s, when hippie clothes were in style, I bought a long denim dress, which I thought was quite cool. But when I saw a photograph of myself wearing it, I looked just like a mushroom in a long blue dress. The mirror had lied once more.

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I don’t obsess about my clothes, but I must confess that I do have a fixation about my hair. Along with so many other things that youth steals, I truly miss having good hair. Throughout the years I have invested in numerous wigs and hairpieces in a variety of colors, and it has always been fun. I was greeted by a fairly close acquaintance once at a large dinner party while I was wearing a very cute wig, and she asked to be introduced. What is true is that I am older than I look, and the hair on my head is exactly where it should be given the hard life I’ve given it.

At one time or another, I have been a blonde, had various shades of brunette, or a combination of the two, and for one luau we gave, it even became black. Later instead of actually dying it, I bought a black wig. This was after seeing the movie “Chicago” with Katherine Zeta-Jones dancing her way through killing her husband.

I was astonished to discover that the nice woman who cuts my hair, is wearing a wig! You just never know.

I always wanted to have red hair, since so many people in my family have it, but the only time mine became red was an accident. I gave myself a home perm, and instead of following directions and waiting a certain amount of time, I put some brown coloring on it. It immediately bunched up, became brilliant red, and looked exactly like a Brillo pad, or Harpo Marx in drag.

It would have been OK except that a widower friend of ours brought a new girlfriend to dinner that night to introduce us. She was a pretty and much-younger natural redhead with long flowing curls she had a habit of tossing around during dinner. Worse that that, she arrived accompanied by an unannounced Schnauzer dog, who snarled at my two dogs, a German Shepherd and a large Dobermann, who did not snarl in return. It was not a happy occasion. However, it did put the lie to the old saying that people look like their dogs because she did not look at all like a Schnauzer. And they did not marry.

So what I needed to tell you is not to believe anything your mirror or your friends tell you about your hair. If you think you are a willowy 5″8″, and blonde, then you are, and in the real scheme of things, why does it matter anyway? It’s OK to believe whatever you wish.

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HOW THEY SEE THINGS–THE OUTSIDERS


bill traylor_0003

bill traylor_0001

Bill Traylor’s talent surfaced suddenly in 1939 when he was eighty-five years old and had ten more years to live. By then he had left the plantation in Southern Alabama where he had been born a slave in 1854.

After Emancipation, he scratched out a living as a sharecropper before moving to Montgomery, the state capitol where he slept on a pallet in the back of a funeral home and spent his days watching the world pass before his eyes on Monroe Street, the center of the city’s black district.

One day he picked up a pencil stub and began to draw what he saw and what he remembered. He ultimately produced hundreds of drawings and paintings. He was a born storyteller who pushed images of the life around him toward abstraction with no loss of vitality.

His work exists because of Charles Shannon a young white artist and admirer who watched him drawing on the street. He began visiting him every day and while hearing stories about Traylor’s life, he watched him recreating scenes still vivid in his mind as well as that of passing strangers. Shannon brought him art supplies, and buying some and taking others for safekeeping he saved the memories of a long life.

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“Outsider” art encompasses all sorts of art which lies outside the boundaries of official culture, otherwise thought of as those on the outside of the established art scene. Typically, though not always, an outside artist doesn’t move in the mainstream of the established art world. The sculptor Beatrice Woods might have been thought of as an outside artist, and surely her lover, the artist Marcel Duchamp, would have been seen as part of the movement (if the term had been around then).

See my blog NAUGHTY LADY for more about Beatrice Wood. She wrote a book called “I Shock Myself”. I’m not sure which was shocking to her, her art or her sex life! Her favorite reply when asked to what she attributed her old age (103) was “I like young men and a piece of chocolate every day.” Either way, she was a grand old lady.

Beatrice fell in love with the French artist Marcel Duchamp when she went to Paris as a young woman first starting out in the art world. She quickly formed relationships with Duchamp and his friend Henri-Pierre Roche, two of the avante-gard artists of the time.

Duchamp bounced around trying any number of art styles, never really settling on any one type. He liked to think of himself as a Dadaist or conceptual artist, or anything which challenged the conventional thought abut artistic processes.

In 1917 he submitted an upside-down urinal to the Society of Independent Artists show. It was titled “The Fountain” and signed “R. mutt”. It was rejected even though the rules clearly stated that all works would be accepted if the fee were paid. Instead it became even more famous than it would otherwise have been when he had his friend the photographer Man Ray photograph it, and then take it to New York where it was celebrated as a huge joke by the reigning artists of the day. Clearly Duchamp would qualify as an “outside” artist even though he had been classical trained.

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The na├»ve art of Grandma Moses, another artist with latent talent, falls into the category as well as some of the following type of art. These paintings by Henry Taylor, a Los Angeles artist, and some of the art we classify as folk art are by those considered “outsider” artists.

Henry Taylor
Painting by Henry Taylor

Banksy, a pseudonymous of an England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director and painter is also considered an outsider artist. His satirical stenciled street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humor with graffiti. Banksy’s work can be seen on streets, bridges, and walls in cities throughout the world. The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher in Bristol, but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980’s.

Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti directly himself, however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.

Banksy

THE CRACK OF THE BAT


Balk
“Balk” original watercolor by kayti sweetland Rasmussen”

I like baseball. My father was a big fan and when he was home and there was a game, any game, on the radio, we listened and cheered at the appropriate times. He went to the ballpark whenever he had a chance.

He put a baseball bat in my small hands when I was about eight years old, and shook his head in disgust whenever I missed the ball, which was often. Dr. Advice and I bought two of our grandsons small plastic bats and were entertained on many sunny afternoons watching them learn to play the game. They were pretty decent players by the time they were on their high school teams. Another grandson who lives in the Northwest, did not benefit from our coaching, yet he was a superior player of the game.

A pitcher can commit a number of illegal motions or actions that constitute a balk. In most cases it involves a pitcher pretending to pitch when he has no intention of doing so. If the umpire calls it a balk, each runner takes another base and the batter remains at bat. It could be dangerous indeed depending on how many were on bases. The painting above was taken from an article in the newspaper after a “balk” was called.

I loved the expressions on the faces of the catcher on the left, and the pitcher on the right. Righteous disbelief at its best! Meanwhile, the large bulk of the umpire stands unperturbed and unyielding in the middle, with just the top of the manager’s head peeking out from behind. Unfortunately, I did not write down the players names in my records, but the manager was Tony La Russa, who has recently been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and who managed the Oakland Athletics from about 1986 to 1995. But the painting is proof that the cardinal rule of baseball is ‘never argue with the umpire’

CODPIECES AND CODFISH


Orange “Fishheye Orange” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

The codpiece luckily went out of style along with hoop skirts and a dozen petticoats, but it’s importance to gentlemen’s fashion is undeniable. As men’s pants became more form-fitting, the figure nature had given them emerged to full-view, and lest it become an embarrassment, a separate small article of clothing called a “codpiece” was invented to protect/enhance their endowments. Though it was fashionable for several hundred years, eventually it was the Spanish who went too far and the codpiece reached it’s pinnacle of elaboration. Leave it to the Spanish.

The fashion world is a world of its own and ever will be. What goes around comes around, and yesterday’s fashion may again capture the designers of the future. However, the current style of the young men I see too often, bares the backside rather than the front, with baggy pants dragging on the floor in front of them, so I imagine it will be some time before the codpiece is needed.

What do codpieces and codfish have in common? Not a darn thing except the first three letters and the fact that they are both in short supply.

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Now, unfortunately, the codfish may be disappearing. The cod’s importance to American history is proven. It was the cod which first attracted Europeans to North America. When they discovered all sorts of delicious ways to cook cod such as fish and chips, brandade, cod cheeks, etc. it was the beginning of the end of the codfish. You might say it was gluttony which is doing it in.

In centuries past it was hard to find a family who did not have someone connected to fishing and the sea. In San Francisco it was small fishing boats catching salmon and crab. In Alaska it was halibut and salmon. But in Boston it was always cod. Young boys looked forward to the time they could join their fathers on the boats. In 1893 at the age of 14, my great uncle Philip Chamberlin signed on as a cabin boy on a four masted sailing ship to sail from Boston around the Horn. The SS Kennilwworth was the fasted ship of her day, and made the trip from Boston to San Francisco in 105 days.

For several hundred centuries, careful mothers protecting their children from any and all germs of the day, fed them a spoonful of codliver oil each morning with their oatmeal. Sadly I must confess that I gave each of my children a spoonful with their orange juice each day before school. It is an amazing fact of the good nature of children that they have either forgotten or forgiven me.

CODLIVER OIL

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Now, as a result of these centuries of over-eating, the cod is in short supply. In Boston, where the codfish is even used as a symbol, some restaurants hanging a replica of a cod over the front door, chefs are resorting to the use of “trash fish” to satisfy their fish-happy customers. The importance of the codfish to Massachusetts is undeniable.

Of course, to make these “trash fish” palatable, chefs are being driven to develop new recipes. They will probably have to choose new names for these throw-away fish with the funky monikers. The Blood Cockle for instance is a sort of chewy clam filled with some blood-red goop, which upon seeing in on a plate, a squeamish diner may lose his appetizer and his martini. Or the tautog, known as the poor man’s lobster. It has rubbery lips and buck teeth which look almost human. “Really sort of scary”, says Richard Garcia, executive chef at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

Mr. Garcia was part of the Chefs Collaborative which held the “trash fish” dinner, even using miniature trash cans to hold the heavily spiced Atlantic Pollock. It was a great success. A tribute to the chef’s ingenuity.