what is art?

what is art?

essential.

it made me cry tonight. like with tears rolling down my cheeks.

that’s the thing about art — it makes you feel.

because art is an interactive experience.

that probably sounds heavy, i know, but you didn’t see the dance performance i did tonight. think how staring at a magnificent painting can make you feel, reading an incredible piece of literature or listening to a symphony & maybe you’ll understand.

it was modern dance — the kind that some people would say, that’s not dance, just because it’s not conventional. the dancers were male and female, different shapes, sizes, & colors, but none of that mattered. it was the dramatic emotion they were able to convey that was important. with just the dynamic movement of their bodies set to music, the dancers were able to make me understand things i never had before.

the art was that powerful.

i’ll never forget the night i went to a concert — it was a beatles cover-band, so i thought i knew what to expect — a little “eleanor rigby” & “love me do,” but it was so much more. the music lit me up in such a way that i couldn’t wait to get home & write. i set my computer keys on fire that night, & the story ideas & word combinations were so exciting — well, i didn’t come up with them all by myself.

have you ever seen ballet performed to hard rock? i have, & it changes the experience entirely, in a way that’s damn cool. it’s the unexpected that makes you consider things in a whole new way. & that’s good.

so, yes — art is an interactive experience that inspires the expression of the human soul.

no kidding.

TTFN

larger than life

larger than life

a dear friend of mine was having a special birthday — you know one of the dreadful birthdays with a zero at the end?

i was lucky enough to be invited to the party.

the hostess asked everyone to bring a story of their favorite memory of the birthday boy, because it’s a shame that people usually only do that at funerals. totally rotten timing for the corpse, not to mention a being a tad anti-climatic.

& this story — you weren’t just supposed to jot something down on a napkin — you were supposed to like think about it & actually print it out. then @ the party, everyone took turns reading the stories while the birthday boy tried guessing whose was whose.

this took a while — I hang out with a bunch of writer-ly types, some of whom are rather VERBOSE, and you know who you are…

anyway — my friend is a super cool-cat. one of those guys all the women want & all the men want to BE? you know the type — they kind of make you vomit a little bit because they’re so damn awesome, but not this guy. several people, myself included, mentioned the fact that not only is he tall, dark & handsome with perfect hair, no less – but he was also his high school valedictorian, lead singer & guitarist in a punk rock band — I mean a groundbreaking performer, used to play at raul’s on the drag & even LA (how rockin’ is THAT?), an accomplished, best-selling novelist & historian, oh – & a kick-ass lyricist, bass player & showman. plus, he’s funny as hell & that humor comes out in everything he does. & i probably left half-a-dozen things out.

& he’s a loving & devoted husband & father. couldn’t leave that part out, because that’s the most important thing of all.

so, anyway — one day, he up & decides he wants to become an artist. like a month later, & i’m seriously not kidding, he’s showing in a gallery on south congress avenue. not too shabby. next thing, he becomes a blues-man. changes his whole musical schtick, pulls out the standing bass — you know one of those huge things, like a 10-foot-tall guitar – & starts composing & yowling like muddy waters or something. if muddy waters was like somebody you could actually stand listening to. you know what I mean.

many of the stories said my friend is a master of reinventing himself.

yeah, that’s right, everybody nodded & said.

then, another story said something profound. or, at least it was to me.

that my friend wasn’t reinventing himself, he was simply calling upon parts of himself that were there inside him all along.

it makes it sound sort of easy, doesn’t it?

easy enough for anyone to do it, right?

i guess in the back of my mind i was thinking…. hmmm. i’ve always wanted to be a potter. not a stoner. i mean like throwing pots. ceramics, okay? i seriously imagine myself doing it. sounds like fun, you know? wouldn’t have to get all artistic — lopsided pots can look kinda cool, in an avant garde sort of way….

you’ve got something like that in mind for yourself, i’ll bet.

come on, yes you do.

i don’t mean self-improvement especially. more like self-enhancement. making yourself larger than life.

or, how about larger inside your life?

just a little something to think about.

because i sure am.

TTFN

pennies

pennies

a friend of mine picks them up every time she sees one & she sees them a lot.

she was going through a hard time many years ago. she moved back to her hometown from los angeles. her family needed her.

this was the 80’s. you remember the 80’s, right?

the decade from hell, according to my friend, & not just because of the unfortunate fashions. jobs were scarce & she couldn’t find one.

so, she did what most of us seem to do when we’re in trouble. she talked to God.

I mean really talked to him while she’d be out taking a walk.

that’s when she started seeing pennies. lots of pennies.

she’d bend down & pick them up off the sidewalk & slip them in her pocket.

soon, she noticed it wasn’t only on the sidewalk she’d see them. it seemed like they were everywhere.

sitting on a windowsill.

on top of the morning paper outside her door.

pennies.

a flicker in the grass would catch her eye. she could see it from a mile away.

beautiful, copper pennies.

sparkling in the sun. like they were following her.

she got some spotty temp jobs, a demeaning stint peddling yellow-page ads. she had to sell some of her things, but somehow, she always made rent. & she knew she had a lot to be grateful for.

she pulled up to a traffic light. there on the pavement next to her car.

a penny.

she opened the door.

hello there, she said. you’re so pretty & shiny, & i know you’ve been working hard all of your life & you’ve got to be tired. why don’t you let me give you a lift?

as she picked it up and looked down at it in her palm, she remembered something.

she’d sucked her thumb when she was little. it’s how she comforted herself, always wrapped up in the same soft, satin-edged blanket.

& like kids do, she gave her blanket a name.

penny.

that’s when she knew what they all meant.

the pennies were God’s way of comforting her now. letting her know everything wasn’t going to just be okay, it already was okay.

now, if you’re thinking i’m making this up, or that I swiped it off the back of readers digest, or that my friend’s a wackadoodle, which she’s not, just work with me & listen to the rest of the story. okay?

do you always pick them up, i asked her.

the 1st penny was over 30 years ago & even now, she finds one almost every single day.

absolutely, she said. of course.

what do you do with them? i imagined them spilling over her flowerbeds at home.

lots of them are in piggy banks, & regular banks, too, she said, because she’s traded lots of them in. but, she also has books & books of them under her bed. she’ll tape them to the pages and write a little something alongside. like where she found them.

& how she was feeling that day, before she found them & after.

she’s been seeing the same penny on her drive to work. right in the middle of a busy street & she sees it again on her way home, too. twinkling on the pavement, it seems to wink at her.

it’s been several weeks now, in the middle of all those cars whizzing by & the penny hasn’t moved.

freaky, huh?

all right, remember that line from grease? somebody’s got to say it, so i guess it’s got to be me.

“see a penny, pick it up. all day long you’ll have good luck.”

i think it sounds like a spectacular idea. don’t you?

TTFN

thanks, mom

thanks, mom

sometimes, I’ve just got to say it.

my mom will send me canned emails sometimes — the ones railing about  obama being a muslim, i delete faster than you can sarah palin. the cheesy, uplifting variety, i usually skim real quick so i won’t feel guilty, & say,   yeah, whatever ….. & delete those, too.

it’s totally not my style to pass along this kind of thing, so don’t get used to it — my next post will be snarky, i promise…………………  so, THANKS, MOM!

to realize the value of a sister or brother, ask someone who doesn’t have one.

to realize the value of ten years, ask a newly-divorced couple.

to realize the value of four years, ask a graduate.

to realize the value of one year, ask a student who’s failed a final exam.

to realize the value of nine months, ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

to realize the value of one month, ask a mother who’s given birth to a premature baby.

to realize the value of one minute, ask a person who’s missed the train, bus or plane.

to realize the value of one second, ask a person who’s survived an accident.

to realize the value of a friend or family member:

LOSE ONE.

Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have.

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