The not-so-subtle art of being a New Yorker.

There’s a not-so-subtle art about being a New Yorker. Much like a Jackson Pollock piece–every movement defines a very strong emotion; deep urge; challenged spirit; unseen possibility; thickness of character; blurred intent; desperate hope; and a thinning line of innocence–hard to understand until you really see it up close.

It may take someone smarter than you, perhaps a fellow New Yorker, to point out that Pollock is to be felt and not explained. Suspicious, as any good NY transplant will become, you walk up close to see the intense imperfections for yourself. Pictures and postcards–the second-hand accounts–do not capture the beautiful chaos of One: Number 31, 1950. Standing in the MoMa PS1, you understand Pollock’s masterpiece, and like the city that brought it to you, the allover approach is now all over you.

A closer look at this work reveals some of the decisions made in the act of painting: the selection of colors; the use of contrasting matte and glossy paints; if the lines would be thick or thin, fast or slow; whether to wait for the paint to dry or to work wet-on-wet, so that different paints bleed and pool; and a host of others. Only when the painting was completed did Pollock determine where the edges should be. In One: Number 31, 1950, Pollock left a breathing space bordering all four sides of the field of paint. However, in other paintings, the lines and spatters continue beyond the edges.–MoMa

After an unspecified amount of time has passed, you walk away with a Pollock-thick inspired aesthetic that you carry with you wherever you go–this is the art of being a New Yorker.

I can’t quite say that I understand Mark Rothko, so maybe I’ll bump into a Los Angeles transplant at the MOCA who will open my eyes to the brilliance of color.

New York, I will miss you.

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Dignity

As I pack, yet again, to move to another place to put my stuff, I pack my brother’s urn into his green-velvet box with the words ‘Dignity’ written inside.  I suppose it’s the name of the boxmaker, or the company in which the funeral home orders from.  The words I only see as my little brother travels from place-to-place with me.

Dignity; an oxymoron that his few bones in that pewter urn, which were scattered over the Oklahoma mountain after decomposition from one (or two) that threw his dead body out like a sack of rotten potatoes, rests in such a capsule being that he was 6″3.

I think about that scene in Face Off where the kid, so innocent and unaware, is amidst the gunfire and chaos as Over The Rainbow” blares through his headphones.  That’s how I imagine my brother spent his last moments; innocent of the pollution around him.

Although at times I think about one of the most famous Shakespearen quotes, “Et tu, Brute?” I wonder if my brother felt the ultimate betrayal like Caesar when he realized that someone (or two) he deeply cared about was the hand that took his life, and LET ME ASSURE YOU IT WAS SOMEONE (OR TWO) THAT HE ADORED.  The moment he realized he was going to die, he also realized he was betrayed.  Can you imagine leaving the world with that knowledge?  You die alone, this much is true, but it probably feels less scary to see those you love around as you make the transition into the afterlife.  The last look of this world my innocent brother got was deception.   It makes it hard for me to not betray my opposition to capital punishment, I’ll tell you that!

It won’t be long until I unpack by brother, yet again, and read “Dignity” on his green-velvet box as I place him on my desk where he belongs; beside me as we write his story.

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