New York Stories: ‘Just Art?’

I feel at home at the Museum of Modern Art. It’s an educational beacon. Most of the time — this defines a successful trip — I leave wanting to research artists for their art, for their madness.

Write something memorable, he said. Some guy.

Because writing something memorable allows you to be memorable, more marketable, more remarkable. Writing something memorable, standing out is that much easier. That’s similar to saying “go viral” — do something, snap fingers, enjoy the ride. No, it’s not that easy, but what if it was? It wouldn’t be any fun. Everyone would be doing it, leveling the playing field, and the entire planet’s human race would be back to square one, again.

If there wasn’t any challenges, there would be no opportunity to get down oneself. With almost instant success and gratification, there would be no true excitement when pulling out of that rut. Ultimately — everyone being happy — the challenge would be to be unhappy.

There is no need to get all philosophical about it. It’s just fun to think about.

Write something memorable. I just want to look at art. Here I am There I was, in New York, starting at a painting of a gigantic eye with clouds in its iris. It was a staring contest with the odds in the painting’s favor, but hey — it’s a challenge.

There is comfort in being in an art museum. There is a lot of greatness, intelligence, and even some bullshit housed in MoMA. But it is creative bullshit that can’t fully be understood, intelligence that cannot be matched, and greatness that cannot be grasped.

It’s the wonder of it all. The inspiration. The ability to ask questions and then try to answer them. The venturing toward full explanations, seeking them out entirely before brain decides to explode.

While driving to work — to Auburn — the other day, the sun was shining perfectly. The trees were capturing its rays, and it was so ecstatic about the success — its leaves, in the midst of changing color, illuminated in tones of green, yellow and orange.

There was a slight breeze in the air. When the branches swayed, bursts of sun pelted me in the face. After rolling down the window, the rushing air felt warm despite the cool temperatures.

The habitual driving wasn’t as draining. It was invigorating, and that’s probably the mentality and determination a person should have when trying to break the mold.

A commute is nothing to me now. I could drive it in my sleep. That’s fantastic, but would you really want to drive it in your sleep? It’s the same route, but there are different things to see: good and bad, humorous and grave.

Rene Margritte's
Rene Margritte’s “The Menaced Assassin” was also on display.

For example: A couple months ago I saw three dead kittens on the road. One was in the middle of the road. It was fucking heartbreaking. My eyes welled up. I questioned the sky on why people were so neglectful to let this happen. There was a whole lot of anger. They are young, so the animal doesn’t know any better; cat’s are “naturally curious.”

While coming home from homer the other night, I saw a kitten on the ramp leading onto 81 North. It was alive, and it dove into the weeds. If there wasn’t a risk of an accident, my foot would have slammed on my brakes so I could go look for it, rescue it, take it home, and never let it leave my sight.

I still feel as if I should have stopped. There were no cars behind me, and there was no room on the side.

[I’m looking for a cat, Officer.]

That real-life experience could be a metaphor for writing. It has to be done right then-and-there, in that moment, because what raw and honest thought you had could disintegrate or get twisted like a phrase in telephone tag. There are memes and quotes for this, and there is normally an irrelevant picture of  a VW van with happy people and camping gear or some scenic mountain surrounded by clouds — if you’re a visual learner.

Clouds — back to Magritte’s iris again.

Last night, before I went to cover a town board meeting, arriving early to hopefully obtain an interview, I took about 10 minutes to just stop. At the corner, a tea was ordered — bamboo tea. While walking to Thayer Park, a bumbling street preacher tried to hand me a piece of paper; there was nothing wrong with him, he could speak fine — he did have conversations with others — he just wasn’t ready or really didn’t want to be there. On the way back to my car, he was leaning against the wall of Skaneateles 360′ with his hands behind his back.

Instead of saying no thanks again to him, I crossed elsewhere.

One of the Thayer Park benches was moved right up to the stone. One of the best things about the Skaneateles parks is the ability to move the benches wherever you feel like. Although I’d done so before, there was a momentary mental lapse as to why someone would put it so close; I quickly remembered why.

The sun wasn’t blazing, it was subdued. The clouds were prominent, and there was a light haze while looking down the lake — the view of the far end through an opaque screen. The tree line was on point. It was distinct. Not even an artist — let’s say the late Bob Ross — could have made it that precise.

The hot water seeped up through the loose tea bag, and the water began to noticeably drip. The spots that clung to my slack were not noticed while walking. After fiddling for my phone, it wasn’t there; it was in the car as figured to be: plugged into the charger and slipped between the seat and the console.

It felt good to just sit on the bench, be idle.

A duck floated by. I said, Hey. It stopped, turned its body 90 degrees, stayed in place and looked up at me. She eventually left; as she did, she quacked once.

Back to memory.

I don’t want to write something memorable. I just want to write. If what I write moves someone, inspires them, it’s not on purpose. That’s not my intention.

Writing is a selfish thing. The author of whatever it may be is compiling their thoughts and observations on a particular moment, whether its purposeful or it’s “just because.” Writing for a hobby is partially to get better at the craft, and it’s also purposeful — for the writer only and whoever cares to read — when wanting to remember something. Thoughts stain the paper.

Because writing was completed, the job was done — memorable in itself.

“The False Mirror” (Source: MoMA

“The Menaced Assassin” (Source: MoMA)

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