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Art begins in a wound.

“‘My mother was a whore,’ Alec told the author John Le Carre and his wife Jane, standing in the kitchen of Le Carre’s house, Tregiffian, on the cliff top of the south coast of Cornwall.”

– First line of Piers Paul Read’s very fine bio of acting great Alec Guinness.

“‘Whether my mother did any hustling, I cannot say’…In fact, she was almost certainly working as a prostitute on Perdido Street, a part of town that was rough by even New Orleans standards…”

– Opening chapter of Terry Teachout’s very fine bio of musical great Louis Armstrong.

Special Walker Percy bonus from the Teachout:

“[Liebling] knew what he was seeing, but Walker Percy, who lived and died there, cast a cooler eye on the same sights: ‘The ironwork on the balconies sags like rotten lace…Through deep sweating carriageways one catches glimpses of courtyards gone to jungle.’ Unlike Liebling, he caught the smell of decay.”


  1. While fictional, of course we can't forget that Winner of Best Insouciant Line to a novel:

    "Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday."

    And then there's this – which would be so much better with accompanying fretfulness of Gilmour et al.

    Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?
    Mother, do you think they'll like this song?
    Mother, do you think they'll try to break my balls?
    Mother, should I build the wall?

    Ah, socially alienated artists – what would they do without their mothers?


  2. Jonathan Webb says

    Public art doesn't start in a wound, only good art.

    Public art starts with 1% For The Arts.

    I'd pay %5 to avoid it.

    Quin, can you explain what does the stuff on the Metro garage mean?

    Tell me smart guy, Mr. Inside/Outside;consult with Yig Central and get back to me (ref. "Miller's Crossing").

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    That stuff on the side of the Metro garage "means" that we live in an extremely decadent society. A society that, as you say, can easily set aside huge sums of money for large scale works of public art under a freeway overpass, while just as easily allowing that 350 lb. woman who squats on the sidewalk at 3rd and James to kneel over a garbage can and reach into the waste just to pull out a squeeze bottle of Hershey's chocolate and suck the air out of the container for the last few precious drops of syrup …

    Well, it's a free country.

    Honestly, I don't know what there is to do about this.

    I am not, on principle, opposed to works of public art. And there will always be committees, and committees that are responsible for allocating funds for art, and this will always be an imperfect process. Hence, that stuff on the side of the garage.

    I do think we are badly failing the mentally ill in our society, and that the increasingly fuzzy boundaries around socially unacceptable behavior does not bode well.

  4. Jonathan Webb says

    Yeah, I agree. The problem seems to stem from the sixties legacy. Both in terms of constitutional law (emptying our asylums and forbidding states from institutionalizing the obviously insane), and in terms of the subcultural self-justifications people make while squeezing chocolate syrup into their mouths at 3rd & James. If I were to write a book about that decade I'd call it "Leavings" and the cover jacket would have a picture of Woodstock after the show.

  5. Quin Finnegan says

    "So … tell me about your mother!"

    On the one hand, the 20th century was so over-steeped in crackpot Freudianism that I don't much doubt its effect on the way most of view our various … maternal motivations. Fact of life. Deal with it.

    On the other hand, Who really wants to consider even the healthiest of sex lives experienced by our mothers? No thanks. Pass me some of that chocolate syrup …

  6. Jonathan Webb says

    Like the mother tie in with Job's post. You see, everything is connected. Let's drop acid at the next summit.

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