Sunday, July 20, 2008

Everything Happens for a Reason

Saturday morning, I woke up in downtown Seattle and needed to get to Capitol Hill by 11. This distance is walkable. I've done it many times. But I had a heavy backpack with me and had just spent the night in a half-sleep daze on an air mattress, so I decided to bus it. My plan was also to get to the cafe early to get some work done on my research project.

I got to the bus stop, looked at the timetable, and saw that the bus was due to arrive at any minute. Because of my previous experience with Seattle Public Transportation, I believed the timetable. When the bus didn't come for ten minutes, I thought, "Oh well, maybe there was a mistake. The bus will come eventually, I just have to be patient." Twenty minutes later, as the clock inched closer to 11, I was in that weird in-between time where I could have walked and been late or taken the bus and been on time. "Oh, I'll just wait. It's bound to show up. It's been forty five minutes already." At around 11:10, I was thinking, "Screw you, Seattle Public Transportation. How DARE you?! After years of loyal patronage and bragging about how MY city's public transportation system is better than YOURS, THIS is how you repay me?!?"

So I started walking. I was supposed to meet some friends on the very end of Capitol Hill at a cafe. While walking, I saw a bus that went in vaguely the same direction I was going, so I hopped on. It then veered off the path I wanted in front of another cafe I frequent. My friends called me to find out where I was and told me they would just drive down and meet me there. So we met at said other cafe, whose upstairs seating, wifi, and soy on the bar make up for the absolutely awful music the baristas choose to play.

Coffee with friends went well. I calmed down a bit and felt better. After a twelve ounce americano, my friends said goodbye and I decided I needed a bang trim. I started walking in the direction of the salon, past a handful of stores on the 500 block of Pine. I glanced sideways into the window of Spine and Crown, a used book store, and stopped short. There, displayed in the window, was The Literary Criticism of Marshall McLuhan.

Now, to some, okay, most everyone, the compiled essays of Professor McLuhan concerning the works of Joyce, Pound, and Poe that "embrace the whole continuum of human experience that [goes] into the art of printed creation and that [goes] on in the aesthetic assumptions and psychological biases of the reading public" doesn't mean much and certainly isn't very "cool". But this book is exactly, exactly what I need for my research project. I had never even heard of the name Marshall McLuhan before this summer's Institute, and now here he was, writing about books and authors I love, circling around a subject I am focusing on in my research. I rushed in and bought it, exclaiming to the booksellers how they made my day. Strike that, my life.

And had I not waited for the bus, gotten angry, decided to walk, taken that other bus, and been dropped off at secondary cafe, I would have never found it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I Thought the Walrus Was Paul?

I absolutely love the interplay between image and sound in this video. The sound is more than words. It's associations, contexts, history, celebrity, giant concepts and personal meaning. The ideas are all connected using beautiful, crazy-cool images that make sense while challenging the imagination.

However, in the song "Glass Onion" from The White Album, the lyrics are as follows:
"I told you about the walrus and me, man/ You know we're as close as can be, man/Well here's another clue for you all/ The walrus was Paul". So the title of this piece is really the only thing that doesn't connect in this beautiful work.

Wish List

This is at the top.

Friday, July 4, 2008


July 2nd was the night of the long-awaited Art Party. Before leaving for my friend's apartment, I witnessed a freak rainstorm. Torrential downpour, some may call it, complete with thunder and lightening. I threw open my windows to let the scent of fresh rain in. No matter how hard companies like Johnson & Johnson try, a lab cannot recreate the smell of rain. There is some palpable about it. Something that sticks to the back of your tongue and presses against your eyelids.

I walked to my friend's apartment on the other side of the campus. The passing shower left a charge in the air. Summer storms are possibly the best kind of storms. My hair feels like it carries a halo of static electricity. The air is crackly, but the ground is damp. The clouds act as a giant filter in the sky, making every surrounding color brighter and more vibrant. In this kind of weather, if I bit into one of the many flowers dotting the campus, its nectar would gush over my hands and chin and stain my skin a Day-Glo pink.

My friend had covered her apartment with newspaper. People made art with paint, glue, stamps, stencils, Exacto knives, crayons, pizza boxes, blocks of wood, construction paper, plastic cups, envelopes with sticky backs, black-and-white pictures of unicorns, their bodies. We listened to 60's girls bands and ate taffy, crackers, and an expired key lime pie. We saw a transformer go KA-BAM outside the window. We thought someone was celebrating the 4th early.

P(ART)Y was a success. A communal piece of art was started. A big, green piece of construction paper hangs on my friend's wall which now contains a drawing, handprints, a small clipping, and writing. It is an evolving piece and will make an appearance at the next event. Another friend discovered block-printing. He became a one-man printing press, stamping the canvas paper over and over with his totally wild and beautiful image. Below, his original creation is on the left. My contribution is on the right.

The thunder storm started up again, early in the morning. I woke to what sounded like someone dropping a piece of sheet metal off of the roof.