A Shade of Blue

Blue is one of those mystical colors which has long inspired artists and cultures around the world. Pablo Piccasso’s Periodo Azul lasted for three years, from 1901 to 1904, whereby he painted the world in monochromatic melancholy. Many artists before Picasso, and after, had their own blue periods, too. Toni Morrison wrote of the racist […]

Making Art Great Again

Remember Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light™”? He ripped off the term from JMW Turner and trademarked it, but was more often called “that mall artist.” His achievements, for a decade or more, were impressive—starting with getting “art” into malls for purchase by ordinary folk, who bought it in unprecedented numbers. Joan Didion wrote in 2003 […]

This Is It, Harriett

You always read about it: the plumber with the twelve children who wins the Irish Sweepstakes. From toilets to riches. That story. —“Cinderella,” Anne Sexton     Who does not have the feeling, now and then, that the pot of gold is out there, sitting around, waiting for harvest? A woman in England discovered hers […]

A Playlist for the Snow

When I email a friend in Chicago to tell him the snowpocalypse is coming to St. Louis this Friday at noon, I beseech him not to laugh too heartily at us lesser, lower-Midwestern mortals. We who buy all the bread and milk and thin-crust frozen pizzas topped with provel when only five to eight inches […]

My First 100 Years

The meme is going around again: You are an egg in your mother’s ovaries, and she is a fetus curled in your grandmother’s uterus. The drawing is based on a longstanding scientific belief that human females were born with all the egg cells they would ever have, which made for a matryoshka scenario, three generations […]

A Genius of the South

“I love myself when I am laughing … and then again when I am looking mean and impressive.” —Zora Neale Hurston   Writer, folklorist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston was born 128 years ago, give or take a week (January 7 or January 15, 1891 may be her birthday). She will have been dead 59 […]

An Oath of Silence

Two decades ago, give or take, I took a 24-hour oath of silence. The moratorium on talking was not my idea, but rather an honors professor who assigned every undergraduate student in her “creative processes” class a full day of no talking. Our goal was to receive and observe the world around us. We picked […]

Blade Runner 2019

Welcome to the year Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) hunts down replicants in the film Blade Runner, which was released in 1982. It is fun to compare a futurist vision to reality, once we get there and look back. Remember the Voight-Kampff test in the film, which identifies replicants as non-human because their empathy is off? […]

Axe Culture

Where the hell is a semiotician when you need one? The self-appointed critics of late-stage capitalism? My family received the gift of axe-throwing at Christmas, and I only am escaped alone to tell thee it was satisfying. But what does it mean? Throwing axes for fun and profit was the invention of a Toronto bartender […]