A way of looking at things.

It’s raining outside my window, not too hard, but a definite get-wet-if-you-stepped-outside sort of rain, going pitter-pat on everything, and it sounds wonderful.

It’s 8:54 p.m. The sun is trying to break through in the west, real golden-hour light, even though the rain isn’t abating at all. It’s almost, but not quite, Hollywood rain, the kind created by an industrial sprinkler on a bright Los Angeles day. I can hear a cardinal singing somewhere. If I weren’t sitting here, I’d go outside to look for a rainbow, but I’m enjoying the sound and the light filling the room too much to move.

The rain is harder now. Not a breath of a breeze; it’s falling straight down. Very very nice.

I know I’ve been bitching a lot lately, but today I am happy to be a work-at-home freelancer (even thought I have to go to work in, um, two minutes). But I’m working in a chaise in my own bedroom, on my laptop, enjoying the rain and the light and the cardinal. I just left Alan sitting over the remains of dinner — grilled salmon with cucumber-dill sauce, mixed green salad with herbs from the garden, Swiss potatoes — and he informed me he intended to listen to the rain for a while, too.


I don’t know why, but just sitting there enjoying the moment reminded me of something I heard on NPR — you know, that elitist radio network — a few days ago. Margot Adler’s story is headlined “Perfecting the Art of Frugal Living in NYC,” but it really should be called Perfecting the Art of Living, period. It was about a study of New York’s most endangered species — its starving artists, the people who in large part give the city its character and flavor, but who are also the ones least able to live in its staggeringly expensive apartments.

Wary of using too much in fair use, I urge you to click over and read the story of Hank Virgona, visual artist, who typically makes less than $30,000 per year, but still has the world’s riches outside his front door:

Virgona says when people come to see his art he never asks them if they’d like to buy anything.

“I talk about art. I talk about my love for art,” he says. “I talk about how a walk down a quiet street — especially toward dusk — is as good as going to Caracas or Venezuela or anywhere. It is nourishing. That is part of art’s purpose.”

Joan Jeffri, who directed the study for the Research Center for Arts and Culture, says for these creative people being an artist transcends every other identity — race, education, gender.

“They don’t ever think of giving up being artists,” Jeffri says. “If they have arthritis, they change their art form. They don’t retire.”

Jeffri believes these artists have wisdom to impart about living and aging. In a sense, she says, they are role models.

And what are the first programs to be cut when schools have budget troubles? Anyone? Yes, the arts. This has been your moment of Zen.

Jeez, it’s a hot one today. Of course, the hottest part of any day is late afternoon, which is when the (outdoor) kickoff party for the film festival starts. On a rooftop. Oh, well — if this day goes like the last 60 or so, it’ll be raining by then.

Some bloggage:

Of interest to media types only, a WSJ piece on the widening rift — there’s a piece of journalese, ain’a? when was the last time you used “widening rift” in casual conversation — between member papers and the Associated Press.

In the right blogosphere, Roy finds growing anxiety over “what the inaugural ball will be like” if Obama wins. I’m hoping for a five- hour set by Parliament Funkadelic, with lots of “get up offa that thang!” from the stage.

Color me astounded: Madonna’s teeing up a divorce filing. She’s said to be getting the best legal talent to preserve her giant pile of money, wherein live the souls of the men whose essence she extracted, creative succubus that she is. I think her husband’s best strategy is to go limp: Walk into the first negotiation and say, “I don’t want a dime. I won’t take a nickel. I’m off to live in a garret while I try to regain the semblance of originality and creativity I once had before you entered my life. I’m getting some futons from Ikea for the kids to sleep on when they visit. You are a curse and I am fortunate to have escaped with my life. Have a nice one of your own, what’s left of it.” And then walk out. She’d be running after him stuffing a check for $100 million in his pocket.

Not that anyone asked me.

OK, you all — work to do. Play nice.

Posted at 12:05 pm in Media, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

12 responses to “A way of looking at things.”

  1. LAMary said on June 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I’m all for the P-Funk inaugural. We need some class in the White House.
    Not as meditative but maybe the same sort of appreciation: my older son’s birthday dinner last night. I stopped at the Cuban bakery and got a lemon cake and some potato balls on the way home from work. Older son wanted black beans and rice for his birthday dinner, and we had avocados with lime juice and some sliced mangos on the side. No big party, one gift, a new camera to replace the one that got stolen when he was up in Berkeley visiting friends. He’s eighteen now and he’s a good person. Not perfect, but imperfect in ways I’m ok with. I’m so proud of him.

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  2. Danny said on June 26, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Hmm. I’d really like Earth, Wind and Fire. They are awesome.

    And I think some Sir Mix-Alot wouldn’t be amiss.

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  3. Sue said on June 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I vote for Kirk Franklin, and make sure he performs Revolution. Seriously.

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  4. Jolene said on June 26, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I’d like to have Jessy Dixon andd Yolanda Adams reprise their performance of “Gone at Last” at the concert honoring Paul Simon as the first recipient of the Gershwin Award for American Song, given by the Library of Congress. Really amazing. If you watch this video all the way to the end, you’ll see Dixon demonstrate what the phrase “dig deep” means.

    If an Obama presidency did nothing more than bring to prominence dark-skinned men wearing white suits, we’d already be better off. Note that Dixon was just short of 70 at this recording.

    Very touched by your description of your son’s birthday, LAMary. It’s a great thing to have a parent who loves you, but even better to have a parent who knows you and still loves you.

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  5. Dorothy said on June 26, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Many happy returns to the sweet 18 year old LASonny!

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  6. MichaelG said on June 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Nicely said, Mary. Very nicely said.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 26, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Another Clinton in the White House! George, that is . . .

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  8. joodyb said on June 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    And The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership shall obliterate the sounds of faux-evangelical neoconservatism in the White House at last.

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  9. coozledad said on June 26, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Bootsy’s downright nasty. It is an inaugural ball, though. There may not be another chance.

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  10. Catherine said on June 26, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Heck, if we can elect a Democrat, maybe we can bring Rick James back from the dead, too.

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  11. Gasman said on June 27, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I too, heard the story on NPR about the starving artists. Hank Virgona’s words resonated with me. I have followed a somewhat similar path in the arts as an independent classical musician. Financially, it is probably the dumbest thing that I’ve ever done, but I am doing better than I initially thought. While I won’t be vacationing in Tuscany anytime soon, I am much less stressed than when I was in any of my former jobs, music related or not. There is much to be said about having a job in which you are not asked to violate the law or professional ethics. I also like the ability to have my cup of espresso while I rehearse or compose, sans shoes and socks, with a small pack of dogs lolling about my studio.

    As a recovering high school music teacher, I am appalled at our art ignorance at all levels of our society. If it doesn’t generate headlines and positive press coverage (or better yet, cash) for school boards or superintendents, then it isn’t worth funding. I can’t help but believe that our karmic woe that has been accumulating for most of the last 28 years is directly related the draconian cuts in arts education that began during Reagan’s first term, coincidentally, 28 years ago. This is one area that the Europeans have us beat hands down. When I’ve travelled in Europe, I’ve been amazed at the general level of cultural & artistic awareness of average folks over there as compared to our own.

    Maybe if we were a bit more culturally and artistically aware we wouldn’t feel compelled to have cowboys and neanderthals as our national leaders. Just a thought.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got to get out my tux for the premier of the Santa Fe Opera tonight. For only the second time ever, I get to be a patron and not a working stiff. ‘Scuse me while I polish up the Land Rover. Ta ta.

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  12. Brandon said on July 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Up until 2003 Madonna was one of the most creative pop stars around. Artistically and commercially, she was a success. People were always counting her days (especially when Erotica came out in conjunction with the Sex book and “Body of Evidence”), but she kept coming back, proving her naysayers wrong.

    Madonna’s done many things no one thought she would: go country, not all the way, of course, but “Don’t Tell Me” is countrified (See http://www.amazon.co.uk/Music-Madonna/dp/B00004WMXZ), not only have a cameo in a James Bond movie but provide its theme song, write children’s books, and even have an entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

    As a longtime fan of hers, I must admit Confessions on a Dance Floor and Hard Candy have been uneven albums, but I won’t count her out yet. If Cher could achieve one of the biggest hits of her career with “Believe,” imagine what Madonna could do.

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