It was a somewhat vehicular evening, the common denominator being “vehicular”. When I lived on the north shore of Boston and commuted to my office in the leather district I always thought about making a blog with daily posts and pics of what I called the daily “Vehicular Altercations” but back then blogging software was not free, and, well.
The road rage was so rampant that I started listening to Howard Stern get in fights with his staff and guests as a means to remain calm for the duration of the commute; music merely added a soundtrack to the myriad rages and did not serve as distraction. On a weekend that ride took 45 minutes but at weekday rush hours – which was all hours between 5 and 9 am – it took 3 hours. I telecommuted 2 days a week but I felt lonely those days, even though I could do the laundry and wear a mud facial mask while I worked in my pajamas with those pedicure toe separator thingies inserted between little piggies going to market while my toe nail polish dried. I only used clear polish, BTW. Sometimes I ate bon bons while I worked.
Anyway, tonight I went to the Zea Mays reception at Wünderarts in Amherst, a really beautiful, spacious and somehow peaceful gallery – even jammed with people – showing really beautiful work by the Zea Maysers. (google asked “Did you mean: wonderarts Amherst, Ma” and I said no, I want the u and the dots)
The work that comes from Liz Chalfin’s Zea mays printmaking studio is all non toxically created and so beautiful that I want to ask her what her secret is. Some up-budget day I will take a class there, for certain, and then I’ll ask. Like that resonant scene in Six Degrees of Separation (wikipedia says “This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject.”) where the Donald Sutherland character has a dream that he is in a Kindergarten classroom full of the most amazing art in the world, ever; ever. His character, “Flan”, wants so badly to be an artist but his skill lies mainly in making overloads of money. So he buys art and gets involved in vicariously monetary ways. I lived at 123 Sutherland Road in Brighton for years and thought of him often, as you might imagine.
In his dream the Donald Sutherland character is awestruckishly wandering about the kindergarten classroom looking at the watercolors clothespinned to the dozens of clotheslines hanging from the ceiling. Then he encounters a woman, all in soft focus dreamscape. She is the teacher. He ups the awestruckness and, with tears in his eyes, humbly begs her to please tell him her secret for he has never seen such work. She smiles Mona Lisa-ishly at him and says, “I know when to take their paints away.” Brilliant scene. Maybe when I ask Liz Chalfin how all of the work coming from her studio manages to be so amazing she will say, “I know when to take their Prints/Inks/Relief Printing Linoleum/Inking Plates/Ball Grounds/Aprons/Lunch away”, or some such thing. She already knew to take their toxins away.
If Flan had wanted to be a writer and had a paralell dream I wonder what the Kindergarten teached would have said; “I know when to take their tangents and segues away.”, or, “I know when to take their extraneous topics away.”, or maybe even, “I know when to limit their punctuation palette.”
On the way to Wünderarts there was some sort of sartorially-enhanced function happening on or about the Lord Jeffrey Inn and a car in front of me braked fast for a parking spot and so I had to throw on the brakes as well. Then another threw open her car door right into my path and I had to swerve to avoid it. She was wearing a lovely dress which I noticed as she cluelessly unfolded from her car, simultaneous with my swerving and noticing.
I arrived to the reception unscathed due to hapful maneuvering and as I was driving into the parking lot (galleries with parking lots rock) I saw Dorothy Osterman and her son Jeff walking in and I waved and yelled so they smiled and waited while I hastily parked and caught up with them for hugs and comraderic arrivals and such. I am a big fan of Dorothy’s work and we reiterated my long ago promise to trade a website for a piece of her work. I can’t wait to own a Dorothy Osterman.
Other friends showed up late-ish because their car had broken down just 4 blocks away, which I felt was fairly decent of the car, so they called a tow truck and we chatted, for at receptions people chat.
After many huggings, fawnings, tapenades and lemonades, I left with my broken car friends to give them a ride to the tow truck and then back to Northampton. But when we got to my car I was embarrassed because there it was, appallingly parked all askew. My first thought was to blame the ubiquitous culprit Somebody, as in somebody unparked my car and reparked it obnoxiously, but I had a feeling it was me and my haste. My second thought was that it was high time to remove the State decal for Missouri that ovally reads MO from the bumper. I was embarrassed and I thought, given all the minor skirmishes, this is a day to be more careful driving, which is every day in Holyoke, really. I stop at every cross street in Holyoke even though the light/stop sign is on the cross street because someone seems to have painted all the stops signs with invisible ink. I have avoided many impacts to my passenger-side door this way. I have saved the lives of many passengers. When people come from out of town I tell them to slow way down at every cross street. I met a guy who got his car totalled here that way, by an uninsured driver no less. He was sad. I’ve met other hims, slammed into from swiftly and non-stoppingly approachers from side streets. I have also witnessed two hit and runs on the corner of Race and Dwight, across the canal from my studio, in which the hitter throws it into reverse and speeds off, sometimes followed by the hittee. It seems that public perception of Race Street is that it is eponymously named.
As I dropped off my broken car friends in Northampton they said “be careful driving” because it was getting dark and they know that after dark the world to me resembles any of a large genus (Amoeba) of naked rhizopod protozoans with lobed and never anastomosing pseudopodia, without permanent organelles or supporting structures, and of wide distribution in fresh and salt water and moist terrestrial environments. Yeah–the lines on the road are like vague shapeshifting organelles to me after dark.
Back at my studio I was sitting in the garden about to dial up a friend with whom I had plans when I heard a louder than usual bang (I often ponder the volumes of such and wonder if they are fireworks or gunshots) and then a CRASH, in all capital letters, squealing tires, and then a horn on permanent honk and yellings, lots of yellings. So I called 911 instead as my heart was racing. You never know what you’ll say to a 911 operator or what you’ll say in any given emergency situation till after you say it. Later it’s not unusual to ponder what you said or did in a situation that does not allow for forethought. A friend told me a story once of driving with a few friends in a car when suddenly they were sliding down this really steep hill and it was apparent that a crash was imminent. And right before the impact the driver turned to her with a funny smile and said, “Here we GO…”
So when I got the 911 operator and I heard me say, “There’s been another accident at Race and Dwight”, it was telling.
Quotes from Six Degrees of separation:
Paul: Always remember the wine from the even numbered years is superior to the wine from the odd numbered years.
Ouisa: We could have been killed! Oh, my God! The Kandinsky!
Flan: The Kandinsky!
Ouisa: It’s gone, oh my God! Call the police!
Flan: Oh, no, there it is. Oh! The silver Victorian inkwell!
Ouisa: How can you think of that thing?
Flan: What kind of behavior is this?
Ouisa: Tell me Flan, how much of your life can you account for?
Flan: Are you drunk? What’s the matter with you? Don’t you realize how important she is? What are you unhappy about? The Cezanne sale went through, the Matisse went through, we’re rich! Rich enough. Next month there’s a Bonnard.
Ouisa: These are the times I could take a knife and dig out your heart! Answer me! How much of your life…
Flan: -my life can I account for? All of it!
Flan: I am a gambler.
Ouisa: We’re a terrible match.