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Friday, September 21, 2018

About that time my friend and I were victims of sexual assault

Let's see, I was 16. Teri was 15.
We had a club held over our heads.
We got back to Teri's house and called the police.
I was crying as i gave the info to the operator--we had car description, perpetrator description, etc.
We waited for many hours.
The police never showed up.


Massapequa NY circa 1970.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

In Between: a Draft

When Tom and I first lived here, we met a very brainy couple. Cara was the daughter of a nurse and a radical lawyer. Cara and Kirk explained to us  a characteristic of Louisiana. They said that to understand Louisiana, we had to understand that there was a small upper class, a giant lower/poverty class, and a relatively small middle class. I don't know if this is statistically true, but it APPEARS to be true.

At the gallery opening, I talked to other people in the middle, teachers mostly. As I wandered around, I overheard bits of conversation. A tough looking guy in a motorcycle teeshirt with cut-off sleeves was talking about a property in Paris that he had looked at for 800,000 euros. Only 1800 square feet, he exclaimed. He must have been the owner of the Harley outside.

Most of the attendees were members of the upper classes: beautifully dressed women, preppily dressed men (except for Mr Harley), who bore themselves with aristocratic self-assurance. Everyone was white.

Earlier that day, I visited the Food Bank Thrift Store (which has recently rebranded as a RESALE store). There I mostly encounter members of the lower classes, some black, some white, and, since Hurricane Katrina, some Hispanic. I have quite a few buddies among the shoppers--we go way back! But their financial struggles are not mine. I try not to mention that I travel to Europe. I call myself a teacher, not a professor. I dress way down.

I do encounter some of the upper classes at the thrift store...erm RESALE store. Based on newspaper coverage, I can say that this is the high status place to volunteer, to serve on the board, and to donate. Recently, a whole fleet of black Mercedes were in the parking lot, including one with an Honorary Consul license plate!

My encounters with the upper classes are with their cast-offs. I have learned a lot from drycleaning tags!

To be continued....maybe

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Just some notes

Tonight we went to an art opening downtown. Our dear real estate agent is the president of the Art Association. He asked us to come. He said there would be a nice set up of cheese and fruit (he knows me).

I always think we don't know anyone around here, having lost most of our friends from the school days of our children. And I feel extremely alienated among the upper-class Trump voters who are the culture vultures here. But in a small town, one knows many people. Even recluses like Tom and me. The artist for instance: he is excellent and I have long admired his work. But I have a little spot of resentment, from something almost 20 years ago. The artist is somehow affiliated with the Benedictine Monastery nearby. I was teaching a Shakespeare course  at the seminary college there. He and another older fellow sat in on the first two sessions--looking extremely bored and almost contemptuous. They threw me off my stride. Of course, they voted with their feet and never returned...

I saw two people we know from school. And a very good artist/teacher who retired some time ago. From afar, I saw a New Orleans cultural bigwig, who always surprises me--he remembers me from a brief period when he ran an Arts Administration program at our school. That memory for people must be why he is so good at his job--in the stratosphere of New Orleans musical culture.

Best of all, I ran into a former student--she is about my age. She must have been in my class more than 20 years ago. A few years ago, I saw one of her pieces in a gallery. It was outstanding! And then there she was. I was surprised that she remembered me. And she was surprised that I remembered her. I run into  her now and again.

Tonight she asked me when I planned to retire. I must have started stuttering...something or other. She told me I should rechannel my creativity and recommended a book called "The War of Art," which is about overcoming resistance to creativity. She suggested that I teach something at the Art Association in retirement. And recommended that I start journaling. Hence this little piece of writing.

I mentioned that idea to my pal the President of the Art Association. He said "Why not do something on poems that are about works of art, like "Ozymandias?" This guy is a fount of unexpected knowledge. We told him that such poems are called "ecphrastic." He is always happy to learn a new word (we had a little tiff recently about the meaning of "penurious"--we were both right.)

I remembered an essay that blew me away in college: "Ecphrasis and the Still Moment of Poetry, or Laocoon Revisited" by Murray Krieger. I found the article because it was mentioned in a footnote in a book by Rosalie Colie, a critic whose works taught me so much about how to read and set me on a path to studying the English Renaissance. Those kind of accidental discoveries--in footnotes, in a book NEXT TO the book you were seeking on a library shelf--were the hallmark of my studies in the days before the internet. And thank God for that, because my students tend to do internet searches for the EXACT thing they are writing on, and seldom if ever wander down the meandering paths of literature and essays on literature . . .  and on other things.

So Ozymandias, Ode on a Grecian Urn, the shield of Achilles, that poem by Auden about the Brueghel painting ("Musee des Beaux Arts")--I'm sure I'll think of some others.

Thanks to Maggie for setting me down this meandering path of memory.