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25 November 2010

Thxgiving, 3 portraits, pointless anecdote

Five years ago was a crazy time. Lots of artists I knew on the cusp of this and that. Above is one of the boys, below is ma’ boy, and after the jump is the boy — all of them in photos from half a decade ago, long before anyone cared.

The reason they do it is not for thanks. It’s for something else…

And what I’m here to do now is say thanks, for the opportunity to follow a creative path in life. Please use this opportunity to do the same, k?

I think of today, Thanksgiving, as the only real American holiday. When I was a kid of 5 and 10 years old, the crew I rolled with — if you’d call it that — was heterodox to the point of Little Rascals-like absurdity, well, a sort of dark absurdity. There was an Italian kid who got beat by his father; a Sikh Indian kid, turban and all; another white ethnic kid of uncertain derivation whose dad worked on an assembly line and blew his money gambling in Atlantic City; and an African-American Jahovah’s Witness kid named Clifton.

As I recall, even Clifton got to celebrate Thanksgiving. (Halloween & birthdays he sat out.) And there’s something very wonderful about that.
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28 January 2010

Ultimate effacement

“The only recent photograph of him (taken many years ago) is of him wearing a furious face as he fends off an intruding cameraman.”

Indeed. His name is JD Salinger, and now he’s dead.

In some ways, it feels wrong to reproduce that picture, but let it underscore the mechanical age we live in, an age in which people’s likenesses and personalities are reproduced with the same brutal efficiency as texts and records and automobiles and television shows and microwave ovens. It was the exact thing Salinger’s life seemed a silent protest against. This Rick Moody tribute which appeared on NPR today encapsulated a number of my thoughts. His one time literary home The New Yorker is running a memorial, including subscriber-only access to his stories.

My main thought is about the work which might await us. Yes, there’s been speculation about boxes of unpublished work, recapitulations of Salinger’s statement in 1963, a few years before he went quiet…

“I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.”

…but there’s been little notion that maybe now (or at least soon) these writings will be published. Let’s remember it’s not publication that Salinger seemed to mind, so much as it was the dangerous, self-exposing, quintessentially modern phenomenon of widespread renown. He committed to staying away from the spotlight, and stuck to it like few others one can recall.

Greta Garbo said: “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be let alone.'”

Artie Shaw said: “Tell ’em I’m insane. A nice, young American boy walking away from a million dollars, wouldn’t you call that insane?”

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